Come and See. John 1:35-42

The Gospel reading for the Second Sunday in ordinary time (John 1:35-42) for 2012 gives us an account of the calling of Peter and the first Apostles. It is somewhat unique: see Matthew 4:18-22 or Luke 5:1-11.  In the synoptic accounts, Peter is called by the Sea of Galilee (I will make you fishers of men – Mt 4:18; c.f. Lk 5:10). In John’s Gospel, there is no association of the calling of Peter and the Sea of Galilee.

"The Calling of Peter and Andrew." Caravaggio, 1602. Queen's Collection, Buckingham Palace.

The Gospel of John suggests to us that John the Baptist introduced the first disciples to his cousin, Jesus.  It would not be surprising that John the Evangelist would remember events not known to Matthew or Luke.  Because John the Baptist is not the only person in this story who may be related to Jesus. Scripture tells us that the mother of John the Evangelist (Mt 27:56), named Salome (Mk 15:40), is also the sister of Mary (Jn 19:25), the mother of Jesus.  Some scholars and early Fathers of the Church conclude, therefore, that John the Evangelist and Jesus are also cousins.

John the Evangelist tells us that both he and Andrew accompanied John the Baptist, and that Andrew found his brother Peter and introduced him to Jesus.  The account seems a bit stylized: John and Andrew very precociously say, we have found the Messiah, before Jesus even performs his first miracle.

The Divine Call of the Apostles and the Inconstancy of Peter

The differences in the Gospel accounts regarding the call of Peter might suggest to us that Peter’s call required a little persistence.  All of the Gospel accounts of Peter suggest that he is a bit of a hard-headed, stubborn man. Luke’s Gospel (5:8) tells us that Peter exclaimed, Go away from me Lord, for I am a sinful man!   Peter is the one who leaps out of the boat on Lake Galilee to meet Jesus, only to falter among the waves (Mt 14:30).  When Jesus tells the disciples that he must go to Jerusalem to suffer, it is Peter who replies, This shall never happen to you! (Mt 16:22)  Given what we know of Peter, it should come as no surprise that Jesus may have had to call him on more than one occasion.

Come! See!

The accounts in John’s and Luke’s Gospels have one thing in common, though.  The calling of Peter is associated with an act of faith and with the witness to the mighty works of God.  In Luke’s Gospel, Peter is told to put out into the deep.  When Peter objects, Jesus tells him where to drop his net and Peter catches a large haul.  In other words, it is Jesus who wills the success of the fisherman’s (Peter’s) work.

In John’s account, Jesus simply tells his Apostles, come, and you will see (John 1:39; John 1:46). But this challenge is not merely idle conversation.  Jesus warns his disciples (twice) that they will see the mighty works of God made manifest through Him.  They will witness the seven great miracles in John’s Gospel, and the Transfiguration as well.  And of course, they will come to know of the Resurrection, and encounter the risen Christ in the Upper Room.  The author of the Fourth Gospel attributes to Jesus, six times, the phrase  ὄψεσθε: you will see. 

The Lost Painting.

Caravaggio’s original painting of Jesus, Peter and Andrew was thought to have been lost.  In 2004, a restoration of a painting in the possession of Queen Elizabeth II established that the painting was an original Caravaggio, purchased by Charles I in the 17th century.   The painting is now thought to be worth far in excess of $50 million, though it cannot be sold as the monarchy’s art is held in public trust.  In 1688, a commentator noted that the painting “is one of the finest in the King’s possession.”

ἔρχεσθε καὶ ὄψεσθε. Come and See!

John was standing with two of his disciples,
and as he watched Jesus walk by, he said,
“Behold, the Lamb of God.”
The two disciples heard what he said and followed Jesus.
Jesus turned and saw them following him and said to them,
“What are you looking for?”
They said to him, “Rabbi” – which translated means Teacher -,
“where are you staying?”
He said to them, “Come, and you will see.”
So they went and saw where Jesus was staying,
and they stayed with him that day.
It was about four in the afternoon.
Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter,
was one of the two who heard John and followed Jesus.
He first found his own brother Simon and told him,
“We have found the Messiah” – which is translated Christ -.
Then he brought him to Jesus.
Jesus looked at him and said,
“You are Simon the son of John;
you will be called Cephas” – which is translated Peter.

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