Wednesday, April 27, 2011

John 1:43-46

The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, “Follow me.” Philip, like Andrew and Peter, was from the town of Bethsaida. Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael asked. “Come and see,” said Philip.

So the disciples are assembled. Notice that Jesus doesn't wait for people to come to him, he finds people and calls them. Only Philip and Andrew have Greek names and it is noticeable that when some Greeks wanted to see Jesus they approached Philip.

It will be immediately apparent that this story of the calling of the disciples differs from that given in the synoptic gospels. You can attempt a harmonization, but you will find no support for it in Scripture. Again, Simon was called Peter much later in the synoptics. It has to be recognized that various books in the Bible were written for different purposes. John's gospel was probably an aid to evangelism. Chapter 20:30-31 says "Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name." The gospel should not be read as a straight narrative as if it were the six o'clock news. The whole gospel is constructed around certain signs and certain 'I am's' and concentrates especially on the last week of Jesus' life, in order to present an incomplete yet 'whole' picture. In a sense John's gospel is a work of art; he is constructing a whole that puts the reason for believing in Jesus in an attractive and winsome way.

We should not be afraid of presenting the gospel to sceptics; Nathanial was one such. He was probably the same person as Bartholomew in the synoptics, Bar-tholomew is a surname. He was someone well versed in the Scriptures, hence his scepticism over Nazareth. This was not just inter-town rivalry. He knew that the Messiah should be born in Bethlehem according to prophesy so Philip's description, "the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote" found in Nazareth immediately raised his hackles.

Philip's reply was the one that Jesus gave, "Come and see."

There is no room for bluster or theological argument, the witness of one's eyes should be enough.

1 comment:

LANGDALE said...

You . . . retired? . . never!
This is nothing to do with John and the gospels, but why arent you writing about all the Indian cricket (IPL) that is going on right now . . or dont you feel that T20 cricket is the real deal?
Best Wishes