KNOW THE STORY
In the early days of His public ministry, Jesus intentionally gathered a number of disciples around Him. As was the custom of rabbis in those days, Jesus intended for these young men to follow Him during His travels in order to both learn from Him and contribute to His ministry.
The following story shows how Jesus called two of those first disciples.
43 The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. He found Philip and told him, “Follow me.” 44 Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the hometown of Andrew and Peter. 45 Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the law (and so did the prophets): Jesus the son of Joseph, from Nazareth.” 46 “Can anything good come out of Nazareth? ” Nathanael asked him. “Come and see,” Philip answered.
47 Then Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said about him, “Here truly is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit.” 48 “How do you know me? ” Nathanael asked. “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you,” Jesus answered.”
49 “Rabbi,” Nathanael replied, “You are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel! ”
50 Jesus responded to him, “Do you believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than this.” 51 Then he said, “Truly I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”
What do these verses teach us about following Jesus?
How would you summarize the process through which Nathanael became a disciple?
UNPACK THE STORY
DISCIPLES HAVE AN ENCOUNTER WITH JESUS
The first step in becoming a disciple of Jesus is encountering Him in a deep and meaningful way. Nobody inherits a relationship with Jesus from their parents. Nobody earns their status as a disciple by attending church, doing good things, or avoiding bad things.
We become disciples of Christ when we experience Him in a way that changes our lives.
How has your life been changed by an encounter with Jesus?
Looking at John 1:43-51, it’s interesting that Philip and Nathanael encountered Jesus in different ways. Philip received a direct call from Jesus. The Savior sought him out specifically and said: “Follow me.” Nathanael, on the other hand, took a little more seasoning. He resisted Philip’s attempts at evangelism, scoffing at the notion that the Messiah—the One prophesied in the Scriptures as the Savior of God’s people—could come from an insignificant town like Nazareth. Even when he met Jesus, Nathanael challenged His assessment of his own character, asking, ”How do you know me?”
Fortunately for Nathanael, he wasn’t stubborn to the point of unbelief. When Jesus revealed Himself in a supernatural way, Nathanael responded by submitting himself before the Savior in worship and praise. “You are the Son of God!” he said, acknowledging that Jesus was indeed the Messiah. “You are the King of Israel!”
All of this tells us there’s no template for receiving the call to follow Jesus. There are no magic words you have to say and no amount of steps you must follow in order to officially be considered a Christian. Instead, followers of Jesus are simply those who respond to His call.
Excerpt from Disciples Path: The Journey Volume 1, Session 9