Commented Bible Passages

These Bible meditations are meant as a way of seeking God in silence and prayer in the midst of our daily life. During the course of a day, take a moment to read the Bible passage with the short commentary and to reflect on the questions which follow. Afterwards, a small group of 3 to 10 people can meet to share what they have discovered and perhaps for a time of prayer.
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John 1:35-42: The First Disciples
The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!” When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus. Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, “What do you want?” They said, “Rabbi” (which means “Teacher”), “where are you staying?” “Come,” he replied, “and you will see.” So they went and saw where he was staying, and they spent that day with him. It was about four in the afternoon. Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ). And he brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas” (which, when translated, is Peter). (John 1:35-42)

In this narrative, the Baptizer sees Jesus passing by and points to him, saying, “Look, the Lamb of God!” The two disciples of John then set out to follow Jesus. But Jesus is not satisfied with their submissiveness. He wants to know why they are following him. He turns to them and asks for an explanation of their decision.

Jesus was not in a hurry to take them on as followers of his. He did not hold on to them. He wanted them to express the reasons for their step. “What do you want?” This question can echo in us during our entire lives as followers of Jesus. Whoever truly wants to be his disciple must do so intentionally. At all the important moments of their life they will have to ask themselves where they are in their searching. In this way they will realize anew what matters most for them.

The reply given by the two disciples can seem banal or even awkward. “Rabbi, where are you staying?” Is all they really want to know the place where Jesus lives? Naturally, in a first discovery there is necessarily an element of modesty, of shyness, as if the desire was too strong to express itself. Jesus invites the two of them simply to come and see. They join him and enter his dwelling. “And they spent that day with him. It was about four in the afternoon.”

We should give full weight to the verb “to stay.” They did not only want to get his address or spend a few moments in his home. They did not ask for information about what kind of training they could receive from him. What mattered to them was to encounter him, Jesus. What was important for them was to be with him, to be “at home” with him, to remain in his presence and to allow this first contact to last. They wanted to get to know him.

They were not looking for any material or spiritual benefits from him. The modesty of their first reply expresses admirably their lack of self-interest; all they wanted was to be with him. That is how, from that moment on, they began to share his existence.

Andrew, one of the two disciples, shared his discovery with Simon, his brother, and brought Simon to Jesus. Looking at him, Jesus immediately gave him another name. As the gospel writer remembers it, from that very instant Simon’s life was marked by a new significance. Whoever begins to share Jesus’ life no longer belongs to themselves.

- What am I looking for in attempting to follow Jesus? Has this search changed in the course of my existence?

- How can we “stay” with Jesus today?

- What has changed in my life because of my faith?

[This text is an excerpt from the book written by Brother François of Taizé, Suivre le Christ et se faire disciple. Réflexions bibliques (Following Christ and Becoming a Disciple: Bible Reflections), recently published in French by the Presses de Taizé.]

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Last updated: 1 December 2014