The First Disciples

Posted by Thaddaeus

John 1: 35-42


John was standing with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he said, "Behold, the Lamb of God."  The two disciples heard what he said and followed Jesus.  Jesus turned and saw them following him and said to them, "What are you looking for?"  They said to him, "Rabbi" — which translated means Teacher —, "where are you staying?"  He said to them, "Come, and you will see."  So they went and saw where Jesus was staying, and they stayed with him that day.  It was about four in the afternoon.  Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, was one of the two who heard John and followed Jesus.
He first found his own brother Simon and told him, "We have found the Messiah" — which is translated Christ —.  Then he brought him to Jesus.  Jesus looked at him and said, "You are Simon the son of John; you will be called Cephas" — which is translated Peter.


Background:  Each of the gospels have particular audiences.  John writes to the followers of John the Baptist to prove that Jesus is the Messiah.  Traditionally, John is the unnamed disciple in this passage.  He is the son of Zebedee and Mary Salome, Virgin Mary’s first cousin.  His brother is Apostle James the Greater.  Jesus calls James and John “Sons of Thunder.”  This scene takes place late in the day.  Sunset is the beginning of the Sabbath; so, they stay with Jesus to avoid traveling on it.  Andrew finds Simon and the three have a mini-retreat with Jesus.  When Andrew brings Simon to Jesus, Jesus foretells that he will be called Cephas - which in Aramaic means rock; a huge rock.  Matthew tells that the name change actually occurs later in Jesus’ ministry at Caesarea Philippi where Herod the Great built a massive pagan temple out of white marble on a huge foundation, cliff rock about 100 feet high and 500 feet long.


The First Disciples:  It is on this later occasion that Simon professes that Jesus is both Messiah and the Son of the Living God.  At the time of Jesus, the Jewish people are expecting God to send the Messiah, but they are uncertain what they are looking for.  Some are looking for a political Messiah; a deliverer such as Moses, but it was yet to be revealed that the anticipated Messiah would be the Son of God.  This revelation is Simon’s alone; not through human means, but revealed by the Father.  Jesus reacts to Simon’s profession of faith by looking towards the cliff rock and naming Simon the Rock, upon which he will build his Church.  In the O.T., God changes a person’s name to designate an office, or authority, or status.  Jesus promises he will give Cephas alone [and his successors by virtue of the office] the keys to the kingdom of heaven.  Thus, the pope is first among equals on matters of faith, morals and doctrine.