The various encounters discussed in today’s blog are all found in a single section of the gospel of John (1:35-51).
On the day after Jesus was baptized, John the Baptist saw him walking by and announced, "There is the Lamb of God!" John's followers went to Jesus and asked where he was staying, to which Jesus responded, "Come along and you will see." One of the major qualities we see in Jesus is his openness and availability. Not only did the men go with him but they spent the rest of the day enjoying his companionship. Jesus was very open and approachable, one with whom others enjoyed spending time, a genuinely hospitable man.
One of the men in this group was Andrew. The first thing he did was to find his brother, Simon, and tell him that they had found the Messiah. The two of them went immediately to see Jesus and when they arrived, Jesus gave Simon the name Cephas, which means "Rock." The point is that Jesus saw Peter in terms of what he would become. We know from subsequent stories that Peter was given to quick responses that revealed considerable instability. But Jesus knew what Peter was capable of becoming and dealt with him in that positive way. Jesus was optimistic about change.
On the following day Jesus decided to go to Galilee so turning to Philip he queried, "Would you like to come along with me?” No reason to make the journey by oneself. It is clear that Jesus was very relational. He enjoyed being with his disciples not only to share what he had to teach but also to enjoy the simple pleasure of getting to know them.
When Nathaniel learned that Jesus was the man that Moses had written about and that he had come from the town of Nazareth, his response was, "Can anything good come from that place?” When Jesus saw this somewhat pessimistic Nathaniel approaching he said, "Here comes a true Israelite, a man in whom there is no decent." Nathaniel may have questioned if anything of worth could possibly come from the little town of Nazareth but Jesus saw in him the model of a true Israelite – one in whom there is no duplicity. Jesus was insightful. And as the story continues we hear Jesus telling the new convert that he would "see even greater things” than Jesus’ immediate recognition of Nathaniel’s basic character trait – that is, he would see “heaven standing wide open with the angels of God descending." In addition to insight, Jesus had a profound ability to encourage others.
In these five encounters we learn some important things about Jesus’ approach to life. His encounter with Andrew and his brother Peter shows how approachable and hospitable he was. Viewing Peter in terms of who he would become is both positive and helpful. His desire that Philip go with him to Galilee reveals how comfortable he was in the presence of others. And finally, from the relationship with Nathaniel we see how insightful and encouraging he was. For us to live like Christ is to mirror these same qualities in the world in which we find ourselves. To be like Jesus is to be approachable, positive, relational, insightful, and encouraging. Becoming like Christ is to allow him by his presence to change us into this kind of person.