Some Disciples of the Lord

The disciples of the Lord of whom mention is made in John's Gospel do not appear there in their official capacity as apostles, as in the earlier Gospels. We have no account in it of their being chosen as Apostles, or being sent out to preach during the life, of the Lord with them. They are there rather as individuals in whom the Lord wrought, and so illustrate for us His grace and its results.

It is generally believed that the unnamed disciple who with Andrew followed the Lord in chapter 1, was John, the writer of the Gospel, and in him the choicest results of grace are seen. He is introduced to us as following the Lord without a command to do so, and the last sight we have of him in the Gospel reveals him as still following without being told. Between this first and this last appearance he is "the disciple whom Jesus loved;" he leaned his head upon Jesus' breast at the Last Supper, and he stood by the cross.

There are other interesting features of the work of grace in his soul, recorded in the Gospel, but these will suffice to show how real his contact with the Lord was, and how deep was the work of grace in him. He represents the chiefest work that the Lord is doing in souls in this present Christian period. What moved him first was John the Baptist's exclamation, "Behold the Lamb of God!" This is the basis of everything. No sinner could come into relationship with the Lord apart from this. He is the Lamb of God who was sacrificed for our sins — wounded for our transgressions and bruised for our iniquities. But it was not only the great work, that He had come to do, that arrested John and Andrew, but Himself who had come to do the work. We all have to learn, what we are sure John learnt truly and well, that we not only need a great sacrifice for the salvation of our souls, but a great and living Saviour for the satisfaction of our hearts, and that having died for us He has the right to command and control us. He is our Lord.

This is illustrated in these two men who followed the Lord without a command or invitation from Him; they were attracted. He took their hearts captive and the inevitable result of that was that their feet followed Him. Where the heart is there the feet will be. This was the secret of John's after life. He sought the Lord's company, and answered truly to the Lord's challenge "What seek ye?" "Master, where dwellest Thou?" That simply meant: — I want to be with Thee. And from that time onward he allowed no rival to the Lord in His affections, and consequently he was well qualified to say, "Little children, keep yourselves from idols."

In the company of the Lord he learnt not only His love to himself, that he had a place in the Lord's heart and was the disciple whom Jesus loved, but he could trust Him; he could lean upon His breast in the most trying and darkened hour, with the result that he could stand by the cross bearing the reproach of Christ. Of all the disciples we feel that John, probably the youngest of them all, and not more than a youth, yielded the greatest pleasure to the heart of the Lord. In John we see appreciation of the Lord's love and communion with Him.

Andrew's contact with the Lord brings out another side of the Christian life. He was the successful servant. Attracted equally with John, that day spent with the Lord filled him with desire that others should know Him too, and so every time we read of him in the gospel he is bringing someone to Jesus. "He first findeth his own brother Simon." Could anything be better than that? There must have been an earnestness about him that arrested his more robust and perhaps more worldly brother. And with what conviction and certainty he speaks "We have found the Messiah." "And he brought him to Jesus." He had found a new centre for his life, God's centre, and to that all-sufficient and all-satisfying centre he must bring others.

So in chapter 6, when the multitudes were likely to faint for want of food and Philip had no solution for the difficulty. Andrew brought the lad with the barley loaves and fishes to Jesus; and though he seemed to falter somewhat, probably because his brethren regarded him pityingly because of his apparent folly, he was the one who put the lad's supply of food within the reach of the almighty, creative hands of the Lord.

Again in chapter 12, when the Greeks desired to see Jesus, Philip was in a quandary, which was strange seeing the Lord was so accessible. He had to seek Andrew's help, and Andrew and he tell Jesus. Happy is that servant of the Lord who has found such heart satisfaction in the Lord that He becomes the Centre of his service and his Object in it; the man who can truly say, "We have found." That is the sort of service that is acceptable to the Lord.

Simon Peter belongs to this same period of grace, and illustrates for us what the Lord can do with the most unlikely material. He who was by nature a profane and erratic man was transformed by the word and work of the Lord into a stone for the spiritual house that God is building, in which He is worshipped. He was made a stable witness for His Lord before the world, and an example of grace to the whole flock of God.

These three seem to cover the whole work that the Lord is doing in souls in these days; and illustrate Christian worship, work and witness as a result of following the Lord.