A couple of weeks ago I talked about Jesus as the Lamb of God and why John the Baptist referred to him in that manner. One thing I didn’t touch on a great deal, was why Jesus was baptized. John preached a baptism of repentance, yet Jesus had nothing to repent of, so why would he be baptized?
Did you ever notice when Jesus met someone how he didn’t see them as they were at that moment, but he saw their potential, or he looked not at their actions but their character? Take for example the first time he meets Simon, the brother of Andrew (John 1:4-42). Jesus changes his name from Simon to Peter, which means rock. What was it about Peter Jesus saw that would prompt him to change his name? Of course, we know through the Scriptures what Jesus saw. Peter went from someone who denied Christ to someone who helped to establish the church as we know it today. But Jesus didn’t tell him why he changed his name or what he would do or become. He also did not rename any of his other disciples. He did have pet names (if you will) for his cousin’s James and John. He called them the Sons of Thunder (Mark 3:17). When he met Nathanael, he saw his character right away and said, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no deceit!” Nathanael asked Jesus how he knew him and Jesus told him that he saw him under a fig tree before Philip called him. Now at that time, Nathanael was making fun of anyone who came from Nazareth. Jesus knew this but didn’t fault him for it. And Nathanael (also known as Bartholomew) was amazed and declared Jesus to be the Son of God right then and there (John 1:45-51).
When John the Baptist came on the scene encouraging people to repent of their sins and be baptized he was like a throw-back to the prophets of old. The people of Israel had not seen a prophet like John in over 400 years, and suddenly there he was preaching repentance with baptism and announcing that “someone” was coming whose sandals he was unworthy to untie (John 1:27). Servants would untie the sandals of anyone entering a home, to wash their feet of dust. John placed himself lower than a servant and yet every one of the four Gospels begins their account of Jesus’ life with John’s testimony. Jesus said of him, “Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he” (Matthew 11:11, NKJV).
What was Jesus really like? How different were His teachings compared to that of His disciples? If we only used the four Gospels as our example to follow the Lord, would they be enough? For the next little while, we will look closely at Jesus’ sermons, His interactions with people, His take on the Scriptures and His views of the society and culture of His day. How He related to the people, politics, and issues in His world, plays a huge part in how we relate to them, as His followers, in our world.
To be a disciple of Jesus means “to follow Him.” But what does that look like for the 21st century Christian? Where does one start in not only following Jesus but in knowing Him? We start with an eye-witness to His life, death, and resurrection – the Apostle John.