It is not a little remarkable that the first and last utterances of our Lord in the gospel by John consist of three words each. The first (John 1:39) is “Come and see,” and the last (John 21:22) is “Follow thou me.”
The first recorded word that falls from His lips in this gospel is the most welcome of all words as sounding from Him—“Come.”
He had come Himself. He, the Word, in all the glory of His person, ever-existent, distinct, divine, omnipotent, having become flesh, and seen in the grace that displayed His moral glory—He said, “Come.” Welcome and winning word indeed? Unknown by the world He had made, refused by His own, He is a stranger in His own creation. But, spite of all, His heart still full of grace, He moves on in His path of love to man. The most absolute rejection does not chill the warmth of that heart, nor dry up its mighty springs.
Hence, when asked by two of the Baptist’s disciples where He dwelt, His gracious reply was, “Come and see.”
And the result? “They abode with Him.” Where is not stated. Whither He conducted them is not told us. A palace on earth He had not; ofttimes He had no pillow for His head. He could supply no luxuries to these two disciples, saving that of being with Himself. And is not that the palace of delight to the heart of the true disciple? Is that not heaven on earth
“When, blest with a sense of His love,
A palace a toy would appear,
And prisons would palaces prove
If Jesus would dwell with me there”?
Well, they came and they saw, and they abode with Him, and they did not regret their choice.
The grace that attracted and kept these two men, Andrew and John, is exceedingly beautiful. Their conversion was one of heart-affection. They were won, drawn, attracted. Terror did not drive, self-interest did not impel. The one influence that acted upon them was that of grace. “Come and see”—fell upon their ears in divine and charming power, and from henceforth they were captives in the chains of love. But the lips that say “Come” also say “Follow.” To become a subject of grace is also to become a true-hearted follower. It is incumbent on “them that are His” to “depart from iniquity.” The two features are as clear as the two sides of a coin. Let either be wanting, and the coin is spurious; it lacks the legal mark of the mint. Hence the “come” of grace in John 1:39 is balanced by the “follow” of authority in John 21:22.
“Come and see” — “Follow thou me”—forms the perfect libration, and proves the completeness of the coin.
But does the word “follow” sound as sweetly in our ears as did the “come”? We valued the grace, do we prize the claim? We rejoiced when we received all, do we find equal pleasure in the path of obedience? When we came and said we found all our need supplied; when the Lord says “Follow thou me,” He means us to find pleasure in that which interests Him.
To follow Jesus is practical Christianity, and service which is not following, although perhaps very imposing and successful, is not of any real worth. Hence He said, “If any man serve me, let him follow me” (John 12:26). Yes, the Lord would have that word engraven on the heart of each of His people—“Follow thou me.” It is His last recorded sentence in the precious gospel by John. It must have fallen with tremendous force on the ear of Peter, to whom it was said. It had a mighty effect upon His after career. May we hear it in like manner, and may our course be truly formed by following the Lord Jesus Christ.