When John declares Jesus is the “Lamb of God,” two of his disciples follow Jesus (John 1:35-39). This is the third day in John 1. In John’s gospel significant events take place on the “third day.” In this case, John the Baptist publicly identifies Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah.
The first disciple to follow Jesus is Andrew. The other gospels tell us nothing about Andrew, but in the Gospel of John he figures significantly in several stories. In each story, Andrew brings someone or something to Jesus. The relative silence about Andrew led to the development of several legendary stories about Andrew’s ministry. According to Dennis MacDonald, the apocryphal Acts of Andrew was “a lengthy, verbose expansion on the slight bit of scripture devoted to Andrew. In it Andrew’s missionary efforts took him to Achaia, but had to leave in order to save Mattias from cannibals. It appears that the writer of the Apocryphal work was attempting to write some kind of Christian Odyssey” (“Andrew” in ABD 1:242-243). The other disciple may be the “disciple whom Jesus loved” in the second half of the gospel, although John’s gospel has a number of unnamed disciples so it is not necessarily important that this unnamed disciple is the Beloved Disciple.
John recommends Jesus to his own disciples as a new teacher. This indicates the superiority of Jesus: John is saying he has taught his disciples all he can, they are ready to move on to a superior teacher.
The first words of Jesus in the gospel are “what do you want?” These may be programmatic in the gospel. Köstenberger (John, 74) points out that the gospel writer has a tendency to use double entendre to make several points at once. On the surface, Jesus is responding to these two disciples who have followed him. But on the level of the whole gospel, the question asks the reader “what do you want” with Jesus?
In the Gospel of John people frequently approach Jesus and want something from him, but it is not necessarily what he came to give! The woman at the well asks for water, but Jesus is offering living water; the people in the wilderness want bread, Jesus is offering the Bread of Life.
This question ought to be on our minds whenever we read John’s gospel. What is it we want with this Jesus? Salvation, with no real responsibility? A warm feeling of belonging with no real commitment? Or do we want to enter into a serious relationship with God as his child, ready to be a disciple of Jesus no matter where that takes us?