They followed Jesus
The next day, John was standing with two of his disciples. When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!”
The two disciples heard him say this and followed Jesus. (John 1:35-37)
Jesus called his first disciples the same way he calls all of his disciples—sovereignly and irresistibly.
As John the Baptist fades from view, turning his own followers away from himself to Christ, the soon-to-be-apostles Andrew and John do not hesitate to commit themselves to Jesus, the Lamb of God (Jn 1:36). If Jesus truly is the Messiah, the only appropriate response is to follow him. Later, thousands of shallow, temporary disciples turn back and refuse to continue following Jesus, which prompts Christ to ask Andrew, John, and the others remaining, “You don’t want to go away too, do you?” (Jn 1:67).
Peter replied, “Lord, to whom will we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God” (Jn 1:68, 69).
How do we explain the commitment of these men and many others like them who hear Jesus say little more than “Follow me,” and they leave everything behind to follow him? (Mk 2:14). How can two words, and sometimes less, be enough to persuade sinners to abandon their homes, comforts, friends, reputations, and livelihoods to wholly devote themselves to an apparent stranger?
Alternatively, we may wonder how so many people could witness his miracles firsthand and continue to deny his deity. It seems strange to think some would follow him in an instant while others would adamantly oppose him for years despite plenty of evidence to the contrary.
Jesus explains the situation this way:
“The works that I do in my Father’s name testify about me. But you don’t believe because you are not of my sheep. My sheep hear my voice, I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish.” (John 10:25-28)
Sovereignty and irresistibility.
We may not see these realities when we first come to Christ. We hear the gospel call, repent, believe, and begin following Jesus, assuming we were lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time before personally, autonomously choosing to follow him. The truth is, however, God was at work behind the scenes, orchestrating the moment and drawing us to himself and his Son.
Let’s not forget where we begin. You were dead in your trespasses and sins, without hope and without God in the world (Eph 2:1, 12). We were enemies to God (Ro 5:10). Those who are in the flesh cannot please God (Ro 8:8). In other words, salvation is not possible apart from divine intervention any more than a dead man is capable of bringing himself back to life. Salvation belongs to the LORD (Ps 3:8).
Jesus will later tell Andrew and his other apostles, “You did not choose me, but I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce fruit” (Jn 15:16). He will tell the crowds gathered around him, “Everyone the Father gives me will come to me” (Jn 6:37).
Sovereign and irresistible.
Appearances can be deceiving. While it is true that men and women are outwardly called and make a willful choice to follow Christ, unbeknownst to them, God sovereignly chose them first and irresistibly drew them to himself. By his providence, he ensures the means and circumstances align just right to accomplish their conversions. Then, he issues a profound inaudible call that captures more than their ears. It seizes their hearts and minds. “My sheep hear my voice,” Jesus explains, “and they follow me” (Jn 10:27).
Andrew was certain he had found the Messiah, though he had not yet seen Jesus perform his first miracle or even preach a sermon (Jn 1:41). By the grace and power of God, he didn’t need to. He recognized the voice of his Shepherd and that was more than enough.