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Called to Discipleship

by Brian Brodersen

John 1:35-51

When you hear the word “Christian,” what do you think of? Many people today don’t have the slightest idea what it means to be a Christian. Being a Christian is more than embracing an intellectual belief—it means following Jesus closely as a disciple.

John the Baptist, the herald of the Messiah, stood one day with two of his disciples as Jesus approached him. As he had done the day before, John called out, “Behold the Lamb of God!” (John 1:36). Powerful words.

Behold the Lamb of God

In the late 1800s the famous London pastor Charles Spurgeon spoke at the 20,000-seat Crystal Palace. Before the event Spurgeon tested the acoustics. In the vast auditorium he shouted over and over, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” Elsewhere in the building, a laborer heard the repeated phrase. For all he knew it was a voice from heaven. Simply from hearing this proclamation, this man gave his life to Jesus Christ.

So it was with these disciples of John the Baptist. Knowing that John was the herald of the Messiah, they rightly concluded from John’s statement that Jesus was the Messiah and that they were now to follow Him.

Following Jesus

The word “follow” in verse 37, because of its Greek tense, implies that these two men followed Jesus permanently from then on. Too many today follow Jesus for a while and then drift on to other things. Some likely think that this is part of the Christian experience because it happens so frequently. But it never has to be the case. Like these men, we can become disciples of Jesus and never turn back.

Andrew, one of the two who had followed Jesus, found his brother Peter and told him, “We have found the Messiah” (John 1:41), and he took him to Jesus. Andrew and Peter were common folk—ordinary people. The common people were full of messianic expectation. Ironically, there was little messianic expectation among the religious leaders—at least they didn’t speak or write much about it. This is likely because they weren’t too anxious for the Messiah to come and disturb their position (see John 11:47–48). But the common folk had been looking for the Messiah and were ready to follow Him when He called.

God Uses Ordinary People

It’s a beautiful thing that God calls and uses ordinary men and women. Unfortunately, throughout much of church history, the idea of hierarchy has been prevalent. People have believed that God mainly uses pastors and leaders, while the folks in the pew simply watch. But this isn’t a biblical picture.

The next day Jesus found Philip, who was from the same town that Andrew and Peter were from, and said to him, “Follow Me” (John 1:43). Philip in turn found Nathanael and told him, in essence, “We have found the Christ!” Thus the Lord’s band of twelve began to form.

Jesus still calls people to be His disciples. As we answer the call to follow Jesus, we end up doing things we would have never dreamed. God may send us to the Philippines, Uganda, France, or elsewhere to minister the gospel and to serve others. And whom does He call? Ordinary people.

God used an ordinary man named John Bunyan. He was a handyman yet felt called by God to minister His Word. He began to preach, but it got him cast into prison for 13 years. He didn’t have much education to speak of, but in prison Bunyan felt inclined to write. He wrote several books, one of them, The Pilgrim’s Progress, the second bestselling book of all time.

Being a Christian

Implied in the word “Christian,” or “little Christ,” is the idea of discipleship. The word “disciple” means “learner” or “follower.” It implies devotion, commitment, and submission to a master. In our culture the term “Christian” no longer means what it originally did. Perhaps it’s time that we identify ourselves differently—maybe we should simply call ourselves followers of Jesus. That’s what being a Christian is really all about.

Are you Jesus’ disciple? If you’ve drifted from following the Lord, get back to the place where you should be. Follow after Jesus. Do it consistently, steadfastly, permanently. Now is not the time to be drifting. God is choosing you—and He wants to use you.

Brian Brodersen

Brian Brodersen is the senior pastor of Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa, CA, president of Calvary Chapel Bible College and featured speaker on “Back to Basics” radio program.