Year B 2nd Sunday: John 1:35-42

1:35     The next day as John stood there again with two of his disciples, Jesus went past,

1:36     and John looked towards him and said, 'Look, there is the lamb of God.'

1:37     And the two disciples heard what he said and followed Jesus.

1:38     Jesus turned round, saw them following and said, 'What do you want?'

They answered, 'Rabbi' -- which means Teacher-'where do you live?'

1:39     He replied, 'Come and see'; so they went and saw where he lived,

and stayed with him that day. It was about the tenth hour.

1:40     One of these two who became followers of Jesus after hearing what John had said

was Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter.

1:41     The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother and say to him,

'We have found the Messiah' -- which means the Christ

1:42     and he took Simon to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said,

'You are Simon son of John; you are to be called Cephas' -- which means Rock.


In the prologue of his Gospel (1:1-18) John presented his namesake the Baptist as a witness. Immediately after the prologue he resumes that line (1:19), ‘And this is the witness of John...’ The next day his witness points at Jesus who is coming along (1:29), ‘Look, the lamb of God.’ The following day he repeats it (1:35), ‘Look, the lamb of God.’ There our reading starts.


What might John have meant with the title ‘lamb of God’? We may think of the Fourth Song of the Suffering Servant of Isaiah (53:7), ‘Ill-treated and afflicted he never opened his mouth as a lamb led to the slaughter-house...’ Let us not forget that John wrote his Gospel looking back on Jesus’ life. He has the whole story, including the passion, death and resurrection in his mind, when he starts writing. So, he can write at the beginning of his Gospel (that Jesus is the lamb of God) which will be explained at the end.

But certainly John may have thought of the lamb of the Pesach meal, the Easter lamb as well. The lamb marks the transition from the slavery in Egypt to the redemption heading to the Promised Land. That could be a metaphor of the redemption Jesus brought. The flesh served as food for the way to go. Jesus himself will allude to the metaphor when he will say (6:55), My flesh is real food...’ John will point at the metaphor when he tells about Jesus’ crucifixion. According to John the crucifixion took place at the very moment that the Jews slaughtered the Pesach Lamb! At that moment John will tell us that no bone of Jesus was broken (19:33-36), just as it was the case with the Easter lamb. There John solemnly declares ‘This is the witness of the one who saw it, true witness, and he knows his witness is true...’ By emphasizing these words John makes it clear how important this moment is for him. Well then, he anticipates this moment at the very beginning of his Gospel when he presents us John the Baptist saying, ‘Look, the lamb of God.’


The disciples who follow Jesus ask him, ‘Where do you remain?’ The word ‘to remain’ is a very important word in John’s Gospel. It has to do with the nature of God. So Jesus says to his disciples that they have to bear fruit that remains (15:16). Jesus invites them, ‘Come and see.’ Notice that John doesn’t tell here where Jesus remains, and what the two disciples saw. But the conclusion is surprising. After that visit one of them, Andrew, has the conviction that he has found the Messiah! What could have happened...? I imagine that I were there. What would have to happen during an encounter to make me say, ‘I believe, I have found the Messiah!’

Much later in his Gospel John will answer the question where Jesus ‘remains’. In 15:10 Jesus will say to his disciples, ‘If you keep my commandments you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.’ There is the answer to the question, ‘Where do you remain?’ Is it possible that the two disciples who followed Jesus and were invited by him to come and see..., is it possible that at that moment already these two experienced that Jesus was remaining in the Father and that they could say afterwards, ‘We have found the Messiah?’

Picture Meditation

I took this picture of a painting by an unknown master (end 17th century?) in the Church of St Andrew, Antwerp, Belgium forty years ago. The two disciples have left the group which is scarcely visible behind them. They followed the one who was indicated as ‘Lamb of God.’ He had turned to them and asked, ‘What is it that you want?’

(That is already food for my meditation. And what if I were one of these two? I imagine that Jesus looks at me and asks me, ‘What is it that you want?’).

They answered, ‘Lord, where do you remain?’ The words of Jesus are pictured, welcoming and encouraging words, ‘Come and see.’

These words open a new future for them... and for the group behind them. From now on the light will shine upon Jesus. That is what the artist illustrates. The light is upon Jesus; the group behind the two are in the shadow.

I look at the feet of these two disciples. The one on the right takes a little step, since the other takes a big step. Two ways to follow Jesus. That they are following Jesus is illustrated by their bare feet. Jesus is a little bit taller than the two disciples. But it is not a sign of pride or being placed far above everyday people. On the contrary, it enables him to look upon these men with love and tenderness. Just as it is said of God himself: that He is gazing at us with kindness.

In John’s Gospel there is a moment when Jesus will say, ‘Anyone who sees me has seen the Father.’ In that case, when I look at Jesus, I see a tender, welcoming God, not urging, but softly inviting...

I take the time to ponder how I know God. And if I ever had a moment in my life where I met Him in this way.

by Fr Dries van den Akker SJ