Jumping back into the story of Jesus’ first interaction with his disciples, in John 1:35-42, we met two men who were already disciples of John the Baptist. John the Baptist points out Jesus, and the two men start following Jesus. Jesus, it seems, catches them in the act, saying to them, “What do you want?” They appear to me to be taken aback by Jesus’ question, and they stammer out a bizarre answer in the form of a question of their own, “Where are you staying?” But as we learned, Jesus is gracious in his answer, “Come and See.” In the previous post, we learned about how “Come and See” is invitation to observe a new possibility about life. Today we learn that Jesus’ call to “Come and See” was also literal.
The two had asked him where he was staying, and he responds with a simple, “Ok, let’s go.” In verse 39, we learn they went and saw where he was staying.
I wonder if they were embarrassed. I can totally see one of them whispering to the other, “Why did you ask him, ‘Where are you staying?’ He’s going to think we’re weirdos. Now we actually have to go there with him!”
Then when Jesus shows them where he was staying, what was there reaction? “Uh, okay, thanks, this is awesome…” It just sounds like a really awkward situation, but notice that Jesus indulges them. He could have easily said, “Sorry guys, you don’t need to see my house. There’s way more important stuff we have to talk about. So let’s talk.” Now, of course, we don’t know that they didn’t talk. Knowing Jesus, he was the kind of teacher who made the most of opportunities, and usually in very creative ways. In fact, we read in verse 39 that they spent the day together, and my guess is that Jesus did talk further with them, and likely asked more questions of them, learning about them.
Instead of those details, we read in verse 40, that the name of one of the two men was Andrew. We also learn he had a brother named Simon Peter. In verses 41-42, we learn that Jesus must have made quite the impression on Andrew, and perhaps that impression was boosted by John the Baptist calling Jesus “The Lamb of God, Spirit-filled, and the Son of God,” that the first thing Andrew does is get Peter and brings him to Jesus, saying, “We have found the Messiah!”
We don’t get any reaction from Peter. But what Andrew has claimed here is earthshaking. The Messiah is the savior that God promised in many Old Testament prophecies. The Jewish people were eagerly praying for, looking for, and waiting for the Messiah, especially because the Jewish land of Palestine and their holy city of Jerusalem were occupied by the Romans. They hated the Romans and wanted freedom.
So the Jews looked to numerous ancient prophecies and believed that God would keep his promise to send a deliverer. For the most part, they also had quite specific ideas about the Messiah. He would be a great military and political leader, of the line of their great King David, and this new Davidic King would lead the people to wage war against the Romans and free their land.
Notice that John the Baptist didn’t say any of that. Instead John the Baptist called Jesus “The Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, and the Holy Spirit-filled Son of God.” So what did John’s disciple Andrew understand about the Messiah? We don’t fully know, but it seems that though the disciples over the course of the next few years with Jesus sometimes confess their belief that Jesus was the Messiah, they still likely had a military and political leader in mind.
Fast-forward to John 18:10-11, when Jesus is arrested in the Garden and Peter whips out a sword, cutting off the high priest’s servant’s ear. Peter is ready to fight. He is ready for war. That gives you an inside look into Peter’s understanding of the Messiah.
And Jesus says, “Peter, put your sword away.” Peter lowers his sword, the soldiers take Jesus away and put him on trial. What does Peter do next? He denies Jesus three times, totally going back on his earlier promise to Jesus that he would die for Jesus. Why the sudden reversal, Peter?
Could it have something to do with Peter’s misconception of what it meant that Jesus was the Messiah, and when Jesus is not going to fight, Peter’s world is rocked and he has lost his moorings? All the disciples but John would run away and hide, fearing for their lives. Thankfully, we know they would come around after Jesus’ resurrection, and finally understand what it meant that he was Messiah, who takes away the sins of the world.