Creating New Disciples

The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, “Look, here is the Lamb of God!” The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them, “What are you looking for?” They said to him, “Rabbi” (which translated means Teacher), “where are you staying?” He said to them, “Come and see.” They came and saw where he was staying, and they remained with him that day. It was about four o’clock in the afternoon. One of the two who heard John speak and followed him was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first found his brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which is translated Anointed). 42 He brought Simon to Jesus, who looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You are to be called Cephas” (which is translated Peter).

The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth.” Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” When Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him, he said of him, “Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!” Nathanael asked him, “Where did you get to know me?” Jesus answered, “I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you.” Nathanael replied, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” Jesus answered, “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these.” And he said to him, “Very truly, I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.”

John 1:35-51

There is one huge difference between this passage in John compared to the other three gospels. The only disciple Jesus says “come with me” to is Phillip. The others are all recruited by word of mouth. Andrew and whoever was with him followed Jesus because John the Baptist called Him the Lamb of God. Peter came at Andrew’s suggesting. And Nathaniel came after Phillip told him to.

I have always doubted my ability to bring people to Jesus. But if there’s a moral to this passage, it’s that telling people about Jesus works. Notice, however, that nobody is converted simply by talking to their friends. They  all became disciples after meeting Jesus. THAT is the step I have been missing my whole life. I  tell people about Jesus, but I don’t invite them to church to see for themselves. Once we get someone into God’s presence, He is perfectly capable of taking care of them Himself.

This strategy even works for people who are disinterested! Nathaniel was doubtful, saying nothing good comes out of Nazareth. But Jesus showed him He was the real deal by knowing things he couldn’t have known, and Nathaniel believed.

Or consider my friend Brittney. In high school (and after) Brittney was the kind of person who would make fun of you for calling yourself a Christian, who was actively mean to anyone who brought up Jesus, and genuinely hated the idea of God. After high school she got very into drugs and alcohol, leading to an abusive relationship that resulted in several pregnancies, one of which went full-term. Brittney relied on family and friends to take care of her daughter while she continued in her addictions. She was broke, hungry, and had no permanent home. A good friend of her family who had known Brittney since she was a baby was often inviting her to church. One day the friend said if Brittney would come she would take her and her daughter to lunch. Brittney was so hungry that she couldn’t say no. So she went, fully prepared to hate everyone she met and everything she saw. But when she got there her heart and her eyes were open, and her life was completely changed. She gave up the drugs and the alcohol, said no to an abusive relationship, and a short few months later gave her life to God. She is now married with a second daughter, and while still learning how to be loving and kind to others, she is a completely different person than she was three years ago, and she definitely loves God.

I owe it to the people I love to at least try and get them to church. Who knows, one day my brother could end up like Brittney, in love with God.

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