John 1:35-51 is John’s account of Jesus’ calling some of his first disciples. The thing that strikes me as I look at this passage is the array of titles ascribed to Jesus. There are at least 7 titles/descriptors given to Jesus here:
1. The Lamb of God, ultimately referring to his atoning sacrifice
2. Rabbi, ascribing to him the place of teaching and wisdom
3. Messiah (the Christ), acknowledging him as the answer to Israel’s expectation
4. Jesus of Nazareth, son of Joseph, which reminds us of his incarnate humanity
5. Son of God, referring not just to Jesus positional relationship with the Father but his unique nature in connection with the Father
6. King, which is pretty self-explanatory
7. Son of Man, an earthy title which actually belies its prophetic and apocalyptic meaning, in v.51 connected to his exaltation
Seven titles, seven facets of Jesus’ identity. Seven angles at his all-surpassing awesomeness.
In just 17 short verses, in just one short narrative recounting Jesus calling men into the radical life of following him, we see a big picture of all that Jesus is.
And it occurs to me that this is not just a great picture of this call to discipleship, but that it’s a wonderful picture of our call to discipleship. We tag along and Jesus asks, “What do you want?” and so many of us answer with a piddlin’ amount of expectation compared to the all-satisfying goodness he is actually drawing us into.
Think about the mentors you’ve had throughout your life. What would you say if they were to ask you, “What do you want out of this relationship?” The expectations we have vary: guidance, information, affirmation of gifts, encouragement.
We go to Jesus asking for these slices of wholeness, as well.
The titles in John 1 speak to these needs — he is the Rabbi for those needing wisdom, he is the Messiah for those needing fulfillment, he is the Lamb for those needing forgiveness — but the truth is that we need all that Christ is, and the truth is that in becoming his disciples we actually receive all that Christ is!
We settle too easily. As C.S. Lewis says, “We are far too easily pleased.” We want and expect Jesus the information desk, Jesus the ATM, Jesus the boyfriend, Jesus the socially conscious vegetarian, Jesus the culture warrior, Jesus the chest-thumping ultimate fighter, Jesus the tea drinking beatnik, and he is none of those things (but perhaps, in some way, all of those things). He is all of God, and he is all of life.
There are two instances of “evangelism” in this account, also. The Baptizer’s disciples ask Jesus where he’s staying and Jesus responds, “Come along and see what’s happening.” Philip doesn’t just tell Nathanael about Jesus; he says to him, “Come and see.”
Clearly it is one thing to impart information about the goodness of Jesus, but the real affect, the real impact upon those desperate for life, occurs when someone “sees” the fullness of Christ in action. If discipleship means embracing the fullness of Christ, the community of disciples should radiate the wonder and worship life in the fullness of Christ really evokes.
We worship an amazing God who supplies all our needs according to his riches in King Jesus.