Inauspicious Beginnings

One day on the shores of the River Jordan, the incarnate Son of God passes by his older cousin. Though Jesus has walked this path the past two days, John the Baptist still marvels at his presence: “Look, the Lamb of God!” (John 1:36, NIV). Two of his disciples hear him say this, and rightly turn to follow after the Christ.


And so we come to the inauspicious beginning of the Church, that holy and eternal community instituted by God—and alone of all institutions to persist into eternity. Jesus, noticing two young men hard on his heels, turns and asks, rather bluntly, “What do you want?” (v 38). They inquire as to where he is staying, an innocuous enough question. He only replies, “Come, and you will see” (v 39).


The two men pursue him, knowing little, if anything, of the path they have just started down. By following Christ, they will see—his kingdom, his glory, his humiliation and death. But all this is still a long way off. For now, “they went and saw where he was staying, and they spent that day with him” (v 39).


And this is how it all started. Two men, followers of another, longing for the coming kingdom of God, spend the afternoon with a promising young rabbi. A.B. Bruce remarks, “All beginnings are more or less obscure in appearance, but none were ever more obscure than those of Christianity.”[1]


We should take heart, for rarely are our beginnings in disciple-making less obscure than this. To come alongside a younger brother or sister in Christ and ask if they want to come and see Jesus with you, knowing they might spurn the offer; to approach a godly older man or woman for counsel and guidance, fearing they might turn and peg you back with a hurried, “What do you want?”—all this seems to have so little of the kingdom of God in it. And yet, millennia later, we might just still see the fruit of these inauspicious beginnings. Little obedience, when done in the strength of a mighty God, might just change the world—one or two lives at a time.

[1] The Training of the Twelve: Timeless Principles for Leadership Development (rev. ed. Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1971; reprinted from 4th ed., A.C. Armstrong, 1894): 1.

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