Monday 21 October 2013

John 1:35-51 - Making disciples

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John now turns to the process by which Jesus began gathering followers around him (John 1:35-51). Later, he told these men to "make disciples of all nations, and to teach them everything I have taught you". By that process over the generations you and I have become followers (disciples) too. So the same teaching applies to us - including the teaching about making disciples.

Anything we can learn about the way Jesus made his followers will help and inform us in making more today. So we need to pay attention to the process.

But first, notice the differences between the four gospel accounts. John tells us that Andrew was originally one of the Baptist's followers, elsewhere we read that he was called with Peter on the beach in Galilee and they left their nets to follow Jesus. Perhaps both are true, but these are the sorts of differences we should expect when different people recall the same events some years later. In fact, it sounds quite authentic and historical.

Now let's look at some of the ways Jesus collected followers, ways that we can use too.

First, it may be that someone else says something about you. John the Baptist told two of his followers, "Look, the Lamb of the Almighty". Sometimes someone may come to you and ask about Jesus because they have heard that you follow him, or they might read something you've written and get in touch. Or maybe they have a problem and someone suggests they ask you to pray with them. We need to have good reputations in some sense. But always remember that we are not looking for people to follow us, we are looking for people to follow Jesus. And in the end it's not our reputations that matter, but his.

Secondly we need to be welcoming in our nature. When they asked Jesus where he was staying he didn't say "Why do you want to know?" or "Mind your own business", he said "Come and you'll see". He didn't tell them where he lived and hope they'd make their own way there, he did it in such a way that they would walk with him. No doubt there would have been good conversation along the way. Nor did he say later "OK, I have things to do now". They spent the day with him.

Andrew goes to find his brother Peter. Sometimes people will do this spontaneously, but often we can encourage this process by asking, "Do you know anyone else who'd be interested to hear about this?" In the same way Philip brought Nathanael.

With Peter and again with Nathanael, Jesus knew something about them that surprised them. Don't rule out a word of knowledge, but also remember that you may hear a bit about people in conversation. Try to remember these things and use them to make people aware that you are interested in them. Most people respond well when you show that you know where they live or what they do for a living.

Are there other things in this passage that might help you or that stand out as significant or especially interesting? What do you suppose is going on with Nathanael and the fig tree?

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