17: The First Disciples
Six weeks had passed since Jesus was baptized in the Jordan. John the Baptist still preached at the Jordan every day, crying out happily to the people that their King had come. He did not stop, for he simply could not be silent about Jesus. From far and near people streamed to the Jordan to listen to Him.
Some men who listened to John did not want to leave him. They stayed with him and became his disciples. They were not scholars, nor were they highly respected among the people. They were simple men with rough, calloused hands—poor fishermen from Galilee. But their hearts were upright and pious and full of yearning for the Savior. They had been baptized by John and had confessed their sins to him. Now they were ready to receive their King. Where could they better wait for Him than here, next to His herald, who already knew Him? They listened eagerly to John whenever he spoke of the Savior. They never tired of hearing about Him.
One day, as John stood by the Jordan preaching, he saw Jesus approaching again. Happily he threw up his hands and pointed to Jesus.
"Look!" he cried out. "Here comes the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. He is the one who I said was coming. I have seen the Spirit descend like a dove out of heaven and rest upon Him. This is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit. This is the Son of God!"
All the people who listened to John that day now knew Jesus. He stood among them, listening silently as John spoke. And then He left again, just as quietly as He had come.
The next day, when two of John's disciples were present, Jesus came again. John saw Him walking along the river, as if He were waiting for someone. John looked at his two disciples and said, "There is the Lamb of God!"
He nodded to them. "Go!" he was telling them. "Don't worry about me. It doesn't matter that I am left alone."
The two disciples left their master and followed Jesus. They walked behind Him silently, their hearts pounding with joy. Yet they did not dare address Him.
Suddenly Jesus turned around and looked at them. In a friendly way He asked them, "Whom do you seek?"
They stammered, "Master, where are you staying?"
Their hearts were overflowing. There was so much more that they wanted to ask Him, but they could not find the words.
He answered, "Come along, and you will see."
They went with Him and saw where He lived. From that day on, they stayed with Him. By evening of that unforgettable day, they knew that they would never leave Jesus. They had become His first disciples.
One of the two was named Andrew . The other bore the same name as Jesus' forerunner—John.
Andrew had a brother named Simon, who was also a fisherman. He immediately went to find his brother, for he could not remain silent about his great happiness. "Simon!" he cried out. "We have found the Messiah, the Christ!"
Andrew brought Simon to Jesus. Jesus looked at Simon. He looked right into his heart. It was a heart full of love and zeal, but it was not always strong and faithful. Simon loved nothing more than to serve God, but too often he forgot. Jesus knew that this man would be His most courageous and fiery disciple when the power of God's Spirit came into his heart.
Jesus said to him, "You are Simon, the son of John, but you shall be called Peter."
Peter! That name meant rock. There was no name Simon would rather have borne.