The two disciples heard him and went after Jesus. Jesus looked over his shoulder and said to them, “What are you after?”
They said, “Rabbi” (which means “Teacher”), “where are you staying?”
He replied, “Come along and see for yourself.”
They came, saw where he was living, and ended up staying with him for the day. It was late afternoon when this happened.
Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard John’s witness and followed Jesus. The first thing he did after finding where Jesus lived was find his own brother, Simon, telling him, “We’ve found the Messiah” (that is, “Christ”). He immediately led him to Jesus.
Jesus took one look up and said, “You’re John’s son, Simon? From now on your name is Cephas” (or Peter, which means “Rock”).
The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. When he got there, he ran across Philip and said, “Come, follow me.” (Philip’s hometown was Bethsaida, the same as Andrew and Peter.)
Discipleship begins before we get started. It begins not with us, but with a living Jesus who seeks us, who draws alongside us, and who calls us to follow.
Before we get started, Jesus is invisible. It is not a bad thing that the church is awakening to her severe isolation from the people who live all around her. We are isolated from Jesus to begin with as well. Just as Jesus takes the initiative in discipleship, so does the church take the initiative.
Healthy churches seek the people in their community. They don’t wait for the people to come to them, they go out to them. If Jesus had to descend from the heavens to seek out humanity, why would be it surprising that the church would have to leave its hallowed halls to seek out the people who are yet far from God.
Jesus came alongside the disciples where they lived and worked. While “it was his custom’ to be in the synagogue each week, we almost never see new disciples emerging from the synagogue. The new disciples who come to follow Jesus are found on the fishing boats of the seashore. The new disciples are found at the tax office, in the market, at a well, in the fields. Healthy churches draw up alongside people where they live and work, not waiting for them to find their way to an altar on a Sunday morning.
The word of Jesus that breaks the heart open is “come with me.” Is there any kinder thing to say to someone than “come with me.” It is what the doctor says to someone anxiously awaiting news of their sick friend’s surgery. “Come with me,” is what a bride says to her groom on their wedding night. “Come with me,” is what you say to a trusted friend when you’ve found a great treasure. “Come with me” is what you say when you’ve found the secret of life.
Who is waiting for you to seek them? Who will be blessed for you to draw alongside them? Who is ready to respond to a loving “come with me?”