Tag Archives: disciple

Discover the Unnamed Disciple

At the beginning of each gospel, Jesus calls disciples to join his mission. Jesus will not be a solo prophet, working independently. He starts a community that will explore God’s new reality together.

In John’s Gospel, John the Baptist introduces two of his own disciples to Jesus with the words, “Behold, the lamb of God.” (John 1:35-42) The two disciples follow Jesus at a distance but soon Jesus spots them and invites them to spend the evening. As we read further, we discover that one of the disciples is named Andrew. Andrew is so excited by the encounter that he hurries off to his brother Simon and brings him to meet Jesus as well. Jesus renames Simon as Peter – The Rock.

unknown-personBut the other disciple remains unnamed.

Immediately following this story comes a second like it. Philip meets Jesus and he also is transformed by his encounter that he tracks down his friend Nathaniel and brings him to Jesus.  By the end of chapter one there are five disciples following Jesus: Andrew, Peter, Philip, Nathaniel, and the “unnamed disciple.”

We can speculate who that disciple was, but I think a more productive reading is to reflect on who that disciple is. I believe the unnamed disciple is you (and me), the reader of the Gospel. Like Andrew, we are invited by Jesus, to “come and see” as we study the Gospel of John. We are invited to experience the life transformation of a personal relationship with Jesus as we read the Gospel of John.

John, the writer of the Gospel, address the reader (you and me) directly at the end of the Gospel.

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book.  But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.(John 20:30-31)

As you read the Gospels, place yourself in the story. See yourself in the mirror of scripture.  And receive the life Jesus has to offer.

How do you respond to Jesus invitation to “come and see?”

Lord Jesus, open my eyes to see you today.

Cleopas the unknown apostle

Cleopas is mentioned once in the Bible.  In Luke 24 two disciples leave Jerusalem on Easter evening and walk to Emmaus, a village seven miles away.  They are distraught that their leader has been executed.  They are joined in their walk by a stranger who is the resurrected Jesus, but they do not recognize him. (This is a common experience for Jesus after his resurrection; I think it still happens today.)   As they walk along the stranger (Jesus) asks what they are discussing about Jerusalem. 

Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?” (Luke 24:18). 

Jesus Revealed During The Meal in Emmaus - Rembrandt

Cleopas is not listed in Luke 6 with the other apostles.  We do not know how deep his commitment was to Jesus.  Yet Jesus chose to reveal himself to Cleopas and his unnamed companion when they stopped for a meal together.  Cleopas, in turn, had the opportunity to race back to Jerusalem and tell the other disciples what he had seen and heard. 

He did not care whether he got future credit.  He simply had to tell someone.   

I think ministry is often like that today.  God does not always choose the most committed or gifted or wisest person to be the messenger.   God chooses the one who is willing to speak her mind and who is willing to share the good news that God is at work. 

Cleopas was willing to hurry back to Jerusalem and to testify to the truth.  He ended up where he started, but everything changed in the journey to Emmaus and back. 

What journey are you on?  Are you open to God speaking through a stranger?

Prayer: Lord Jesus, open my heart, soul, and mind to hear your voice and to do your will.

“Come and See” Invitation or Command?

Jesus said, "Come and See"

After Jesus’ baptism, two of JB’s disciples began to tag after Jesus (John 1:35-39).  Jesus spotted these secretive observers and asked a deep question, “What are you looking for?”  I could write my whole Sunday sermon on Jesus’ question. What are we looking for when we come to prayer, Bible study, or worship? 

The two responded with their own question, “Rabbi, where are you staying?”  Again, one could dwell with that question for a long time; where is Jesus staying today?  Where do we find him?  Is he in the obvious or in the hidden? 

Then came Jesus’ response, “Come and see.”   I have often thought of these words as a gracious invitation to explore a relationship with Jesus Christ.  As if Jesus were giving the two followers the choice on whether to stay with him or go someplace else.  In our American culture, we like to have choices, options, possiblities.  We want to decide what we do or don’t do.   And so we see this word of Jesus as a choice.  A choice that seems to ebb and flow in our lives among the many choices.  Some days we respond with joy; some days with hesitation or fear. 

But could “come and see” be more like a command or declaration?   Like when Jesus commands the sea to be calm or when Lazarus is raised from the dead (John 11)?   Later Jesus declared, “No one can come to me unless drawn by the Father who sent me” (John 6:44).  The two disciples responded as if it was a command. “They came and saw where he was staying” (John 1:39).  

Could it be that our faith is more a gift of God than a heroic choice by us?  I find comfort and hope in the promise that the Father draws me to Jesus.  Some called it “irrestible grace.” Jesus pulls me along, rather than me running to catch up.  The more I think about it the more I am looking forward to preaching on Sunday!

How have you experienced the pull of God in your spiritual life?