After Jesus was baptized in the River Jordan by John the Baptist (JTB), He went into the wilderness and fasted for forty days. When He was finished with his fast, Satan appeared and tried to tempt Him into worshiping him. Essentially, he wanted Jesus to abandon his mission to save us. Satan offered Jesus a fast-track to rule the world as his right-hand man without the burden of the cross. Jesus defended against Satan’s attacks with the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God (Eph 6:17). Satan likewise tells us to take the easy way out, but Jesus said Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. John does not include the temptation in his Gospel, but it is around this same time that his account begins. Having finished his fast, Jesus returns to where JTB was ministering and begins to call his disciples.
Father, give us understanding as we read thy word, in Jesus’ name. Amen.
29 The next day [after JTB spoke to the delegation from the Pharisees] John [the Baptist] seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.
JTB did not say, ‘Behold, our new King who will save us from the Romans’. What the Jews wanted at that time was a King to free them from the yoke of the Roman Empire, but what they needed was a Messiah to free them from their sins. Jesus performed his duties perfectly and not only paid for Israel’s sins, but the sin of the world. This free gift is offered to anyone, anywhere, no matter what he may have done, however terrible it may have been. The precious blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all unrighteousness. Having accomplished his first mission to take away the sin of the world (for anyone who will receive Him) Jesus is now poised to execute his second mission: To free us from the New World Order, which is an extension of the Roman Empire—iron mixed with clay (Dan 2:41-43).
30 This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me: for he was before me.
31 And I knew him not: but that he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water.
32 And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him.
33 And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost. [Cf Acts 2:38; 10:44; 11:16; 1 Cor 12:13]
From the very beginning in Genesis 1, over and over the Bible says, ‘God said…’
God spoke to JTB the same way He spoke to other people we read about in the Bible. Jesus’ name is the Word and He still speaks to his people today. If you are having trouble hearing his voice, it is because you are not spending enough time in his word. Christianity is not a religion, it is a relationship. In order to have a relationship, there needs to be communication. In times like these, it is more important than ever that we make time for Jesus and do our utmost to discern what He is saying to us through meditation in the word and prayer.
34 And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God.
35 Again the next day after John stood, and two of his disciples;
36 And looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God!
37 And the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus.
38 Then Jesus turned, and saw them following, and saith unto them, What seek ye? They said unto him, Rabbi, (which is to say, being interpreted, Master,) where dwellest thou?
39 He saith unto them, Come and see. They came and saw where he dwelt, and abode with him that day: for it was about the tenth hour.
Andrew and his friend followed Jesus and Jesus welcomed them to do so. Before introductions were even made, they inquired about his address, which is a bit of a personal question to ask someone you don’t know. Jesus was not offended, however. He simply said Come and see. He is still saying that today and his invitation is open to everyone. Do you have an interest in Me? Come and see. Be no more blind, but seeing. Come and see.
40 One of the two which heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother.
41 He first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ [Gk Christos; lit Anointed One].
In this first chapter of John’s Gospel, we have both Andrew and Nathanael (v 49) confessing that Jesus is the Messiah. When people met Jesus, they often recognized who He was (eg John 4:29, 42; 7:26).
John was sensitive to the wider Gentile audience he was writing to. He interprets more words for his readers than any of the other Gospel writers. Luke, the Gentile, does not use Hebrew words that need interpreting. Luke simply translates the words to Greek. For example, in Luke 6:14 Luke refers to Peter by his Greek name, Petros, rather than the Aramaic form that Jesus used. (See next verse.) Luke does, however, interpret foreign names in the Book of Acts.
42 And he brought him to Jesus. And when Jesus beheld him, he said, Thou art Simon the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone.
Enter Simon Peter. John and Peter, the original odd couple, became friends and were often seen together. (John 20:2; Acts 3:1, 11; 4:13; 8:14) They did seem to have a bit of a friendly rivalry, however. John even pokes a little fun at Peter in his Gospel. He tells us the name of the servant whose ear Peter cut off. (John 18:10) John tells us that he outran Peter on the way to the empty tomb. (John 20:4) He tells us that Peter went into the tomb first, but when he went in after Peter, he believed, the implication being that he was a believer before Peter was. (John 20:8) He tells us that Jesus rebuked Peter when he asked Him what John would do and adds that Jesus told Peter to mind his own business. (John 21:22) I think John probably had to put up with Peter trying to pull rank on him because he was the elder. I think that maybe he wanted to rib him a little to get back at him.
Here in Chapter 1, Jesus gives Peter a new name. I believe we will all eventually get new names. (Rev 2:17; 3:12) Throughout the Bible, God gives his servants new names. Take Jacob, for example. His name means heal catcher, but it came to mean supplanter. Imagine if you had to go through life introducing yourself that way. It would be like having to say, Nice to meet you. You can call me Used-Car Salesman. Depending on where you live, the idiom may be something different; for example, in India, it would be Insurance Salesman, but I think you can get the idea. One day, however, after an all-night wrestling match, God changed Jacob’s name to Israel, which according to Cruden’s Concordance could be translated Soldier of God. Esther Fleece Allen has written a book called Your New Name, Saying Goodbye to the Labels that Limit (Zondervan, 2020). In her book, Esther explains that:
“Too often, our identity gets tangled up with our circumstances, and suddenly, the truth of who we are is colored by our relationship status, our job title, the shame of our past, or what others say about us.
“People might pin toxic, untrue labels on your back. Life might knock you down. And you might even wrongly label yourself. But God never does. Our God-given identity is the truest thing about us, and God spends a lot of time in the Bible telling us who we are. It’s time to take Him at His word.
“God’s names for you are not post-it-note provisions; they are names to be studied, taken to heart, and believed, all in the journey of becoming your truest self just as He created you to be.”
Maybe this explains why Jesus gave Simon a new name. Simon was named for Simeon, a son of Leah. His name means ‘He heard’. In Greek, however, his name translates to Simon, which also means ‘snub-nosed’. Could it be that this was something that Peter was kidded or even picked on for? What about you? Do you have a label that someone else put on you? Maybe you carry a negative label that you gave yourself, but that is not how God sees you. God sees us much differently than the world sees us and different than the way we see ourselves. Where the world saw only a shepherd boy, God saw a king. Where the world saw a harlot, God saw a princess. Where the world saw a fisherman, God saw an apostle. Once you understand your identity in Christ, you can shed your old labels and be the woman or man that God has called you to be. Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. God says He has made you into a new creation and it is his label that is the important one: My princess. My soldier. My platinum-tipped arrow of truth. Why not ask God what your new name is? When He tells you, don’t forget it and act accordingly.
Father, thank You for making all things new. Please conform each of us into the image of your Son, that we may live up to the new name You give to each of us. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Coronavirus Update: Dr Scott Atlas, health adviser to President Trump, nailed it when he tweeted earlier this week on Sunday: “the only way this stops is if people rise up. You get what you accept.” Remember how they told us the lockdown would only last two weeks to ‘flatten the curve’? Dr Atlas was specifically referring to Governor Whitmer’s draconian lock-down orders, but you could apply it to the rest of it: the masks, the vaccines, the distancing, all of it. The only way we are going to get ourselves out of this straightjacket the new world order is forcing us into is to simply ignore them and remember that we are human beings created in the image of God, not barcoded slaves who blindly obey Satan and his minions. We do not have to obey their mandates.
Magog Update: It has been reported that there is a hot civil war taking place in Ethiopia. Ethiopia, one of the nations listed as part of the Russian-Islamic alliance in Ezekiel 38 and 39, has amicable relations with Israel but that could quickly change considering current events.
Election Update: On Thursday, Trump’s lawyers held a press conference and dropped earth-shattering assertions of unprecedented voter fraud involving Dominion voting machines. They say they will be able to prove their allegations in court. Their claims are so momentous and their implications so far-reaching, that they should have been the only thing being talked about in the media on Thursday and Friday. Instead, however, they were promptly dismissed, ignored, or ridiculed not only by Democrats but Republicans as well, except on small, independent, media outlets. Driving through the Midwest on Thursday and Friday, as I was wondering why the conservative talk show hosts were discussing old issues like the efficacy of Hydroxychloroquine instead of what should have been the obvious topic, I happened upon a radio show by shock jock, Matthew “Mancow” Muller, and got my answer. He said he believed that the election had been stolen but he was not allowed to say so. He said he would like to discuss what was said at the Trump press conference, but he was not allowed to. He said that therefore, after decades on radio, he will be retiring and signing off on November 25, in order to “save my soul.”
PS: There is an ancient Chinese curse that goes something like this: ‘May you live in interesting times’. As Christians, however, we must keep in mind that we are not cursed, we are blessed. As the sun sets on 2020, 2021 is still a wildcard. The US election is just one of many different plots in the epic end-times drama we are all living through. The world is at war over the soul of humanity. There are so many plots and themes in this unfolding drama that it is hard to keep track of them all, but suffice it to say that if nothing else, recent events have made me more thankful than ever that our hope is in heaven. Jesus is preparing to bring in his kingdom. That is something we can all be thankful for. In my travels as a missionary, I have enjoyed participating in the traditions of other cultures. Getting covered with colorful powders on Holi to celebrate the triumph of good over evil was a memorable experience. If you are not an American, I invite you to join us in one of our cherished traditions this coming Thursday: Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is a day that we Americans dedicate to God by giving thanks for all He has done for us. Traditionally, we invite people for dinner and eat turkey, but you can substitute any food you like. The important thing is to take turns thanking God for what He has done each of us.