The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ). And he brought him to Jesus. (verses 41-42)
One of the central moments in each of the other Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke) is when Jesus asks the disciples, “Who do you say I am?” Peter immediately responds, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God”, to which Jesus replies, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but my Father in heaven” (Matthew 16:16-17).
This portion in John’s Gospel shows us something of the progression of the Father’s revelation, for the very first thing Peter’s brother, Andrew, says about Jesus is that he is the Messiah (that is, the Christ). Further, just a short time before, John the Baptist had declared Jesus to be “the Son of God” (John 1:34). It’s much later, in answer to Jesus’ question at Caesarea Philippi, that Peter himself puts into words both these pieces of revelation – that Jesus is the Christ, and that he is the Son of God. It turns out both insights are already present as the story begins in John 1.
Reading between the lines, it seems to me there are several things we learn about the revelation of the Father.
(1) Revelation can come through a variety of means. I’d always assumed that revelation came to Peter as an ah-ha moment, out of the blue, in a flash. While some of that may be the case, here we see that the raw content of revelation had already come from the mouths of others – his brother Andrew and John the Baptist. It doesn’t diminish the work of the Father, it simply reveals the variety of his methods.
(2) Revelation can take time. Presumably this chapter in John happens at about the same time as the formal “calling” of Peter to discipleship that is recorded in Matthew 4. If so, it’s not until twelve chapters later in Matthew 16 that Peter has his full revelatory moment. By then, Peter has had much time for thought since Andrew’s first declaration. He’d also heard the depth of Jesus’ teaching (including the Sermon on the Mount) and seen a multitude of his miracles. The Father has been at work in Peter through it all.
(3) Revelation is more than mere content. Andrew spoke the content to Peter right from the start. But true revelation happened when it finally gripped Peter’s soul, when it travelled, as they say, the twelve inches from his head to his heart. It was then that he himself could speak Andrew’s declaration with conviction, indeed with understanding beyond what Andrew himself had known. It was as if the kindling was ready, each piece in place, simply awaiting the flint to light it. That, too, was carried out by the Father – setting the fire ablaze was the work of the Father’s hand. So, Peter looked Jesus in the eye and declared passionately: “You are the Christ!”
Learning from Peter’s experience, I aspire to have my own eyes open to each step of the Father’s unfolding revelation. I want to listen to brother’s and sister’s around me as they speak out words that may open doorways into God’s truth. I choose to patiently submit to the process, allowing the Lord to work in time as he chooses.
I desire to keep my heart open that the Father’s revelation may truly grip me.
Father, reveal your Son to me, more and more deeply. Grip my mind and heart with your truth. Apprehend me with the Truth himself.
Reflect: Lately, what aspects of Jesus’ Person and Work have you seen in your own life more clearly? Ask the Father to complete the sighting. Pray for revelation to grip your soul.