“Then Jesus turned…”

John 1:29-42

January 16, 2005
Epiphany 2a

John 1:29-42

[Jn 1:29] The next day he *saw Jesus coming to him and *said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! [30] “This is He on behalf of whom I said, ‘After me comes a Man who has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.’ [31] “I did not recognize Him, but so that He might be manifested to Israel, I came baptizing in water.” [32] John testified saying, “I have seen the Spirit descending as a dove out of heaven, and He remained upon Him. [33] “I did not recognize Him, but He who sent me to baptize in water said to me, ‘He upon whom you see the Spirit descending and remaining upon Him, this is the One who baptizes in the Holy Spirit.’ [34] “I myself have seen, and have testified that this is the Son of God.”

[35] Again the next day John was standing with two of his disciples, [36] and he looked at Jesus as He walked, and *said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” [37] The two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus. [38] And Jesus turned and saw them following, and *said to them, “What do you seek?” They said to Him, “Rabbi (which translated means Teacher), where are You staying?” [39] He *said to them, “Come, and you will see.” So they came and saw where He was staying; and they stayed with Him that day, for it was about the tenth hour. [40] One of the two who heard John speak and followed Him, was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother. [41] He *found first his own brother Simon and *said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which translated means Christ). [42] He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon the son of John; you shall be called Cephas” (which is translated Peter). (NAS)

John 1:29-30

[Jn 1:29] The next day he *saw Jesus coming to him and *said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! [30] “This is He on behalf of whom I said, ‘After me comes a Man who has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.’”

The Lamb of God

286, lamb, amnos (am-nos'); 142, who takes away, airo (ah'-ee-ro); 266, the sin, hamartia (ham-ar-tee'-ah); 2889, the world, kosmos (kos'-mos)

John does two things in this initial statement about Jesus:

  • He testifies that Jesus is the long-awaited Messiah, the Christ; the anointed one of God.
  • He testifies to Jesus’ role in history; he is to be the sacrificial lamb who will bear the cost of our sin.

The sacrifice of the lamb (the Passover Lamb) was ordained by the Lord Himself in Exodus 12:

Exodus 12:2-13

[2] “This month shall be the beginning of months for you; it is to be the first month of the year to you. [3] “Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying, ‘On the tenth of this month they are each one to take a lamb for themselves, according to their fathers’ households, a lamb for each household. [4] ‘Now if the household is too small for a  lamb, then he and his neighbor nearest to his house are to take one according to the  number of persons in them; according to  what each man should eat, you are to  divide the lamb. [5] ‘Your lamb shall be an unblemished male a year old; you may take it from the sheep or from the goats. [6] ‘You shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month, then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel is to kill it at twilight. [7] ‘Moreover, they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses in which they eat it. [8] ‘They shall eat the flesh that same night, roasted with fire, and they shall eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. [9] ‘Do not eat any of it raw or boiled at all with water, but rather roasted with fire, both its head and its legs along with its entrails. [10] ‘And you shall not leave any of it over until morning, but whatever is left of it until morning, you shall burn with fire. [11] ‘Now you shall eat it in this manner: with your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it in haste—it is the LORD'S Passover. [12] ‘For I will go through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments—I am the LORD. [13] ‘The blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live; and when I see the blood I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.

[14] ‘Now this day will be a memorial to you, and you shall celebrate it as a feast to the LORD; throughout your generations you are to celebrate it as a permanent ordinance.’”

The lambs were also used in the daily temple sacrifices (see Lev 14:12,21,24; Nu 6:12);  each morning and evening, a lamb was sacrificed for the sins of the people (Ex 29:38-42).

Isaiah was the first to prophecy that the Messiah would pay the ultimate price for our sins by offering himself as the “Lamb of God”:

Isaiah 53:7

[7] He was oppressed, [yet when] He was afflicted, He was submissive and opened not His mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so He opened not His mouth.

To pay the price for sin a life had to be taken: “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord [Ro 6:23].”

In an act of incomprehensible love, God himself picked the perfect sacrifice for our sins; His only son: “Clean out the old leaven so that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened. For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed [1Co 5:7].”

Jesus, the Lamb of God, is the prophecy of the Old Testament completed; the fulfilled Covenant:

Isaiah 53:4-6

[4] Surely our griefs He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted.

[5] But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed.

[6] All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him.

This same message was repeated by Peter in his last letter to his beloved church:

1 Peter 2:24-25

[24] And He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed. [25] For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.

Through John the Baptist, Jesus, the hope of the world, is introduced on to the stage of eternity.  In the most remote corner of the known world, through a man known for his unwavering focus on the coming King, Jesus splits the seam of eternity and salvation steps into the Jordan.  It couldn’t be anymore ridiculous from a worldly standpoint; the Savior of humanity doesn’t descend upon Rome, the world capitol, and is unheralded in Jerusalem, his religion’s capitol.  Instead, a bony finger points out from the wasteland and says; “There stands the reason for creation.”
Are we adept enough to see the bony fingers in our wastelands?  Are our lives so attuned that we could recognize the salvation of the world in the calloused hands of a backwoods carpenter?  Would I recognize the world’s Savior—and if I did—would I move aside for him?  Or is my life too fettered by comfort and sin to be attuned to the improbable or influenced by the preposterous.

The call of John is a call to simplify, to reduce, and to seek clarity in the midst of the religious and the political. Would I be unencumbered enough to see the salvation of the world if he came in the form of a lamb—not a lion?

A higher rank than I

The exact translation of John’s words are very important; Jesus is both of higher rank [GSN1096 ginomai] and existed before [GSN4413 protos] John the Baptist.  The full meanings of these terms were that Jesus was the “prototype” of God.  He was “before, the best, and the chief” among all.  He was ordained for, united with, and assembled by God for a singular purpose towards which John can only hope to point.

These words don’t flow from John the Baptist in a false humility; they flow from his very essence.  All of his life boiled down to that one moment; that singular purpose: To launch the reign of the Lamb of God.

When will we finally awaken to our ultimate purpose?  When will we step aside for he who was before; the best, and the chief of all creation?  Are we sitting on a throne that isn’t ours?  Do we think of ourselves as the “protos” as opposed to a road sign?

Our purpose in life is to become more like John daily; totally transparent.  We will have lived well if we have become so translucent that people look completely through us and see Jesus.

The complex issue for any biblical translator today is to take the concepts of a pastoral culture and meaningfully translate them into an economic society.  The word “lamb” had many uses in Christ’s day.  It is interesting that John (the author) does not use the word, “Pascha,” which means “sacrificial lamb” (the term for the lamb that was used to bear the sins of the people in Passover sacrifices).  Yet, it reveals to us that the author, John the Beloved, is not trying to impress a nationalistic church—but a new church that is being birthed in Christ.  John is addressing a church replete with Hebrew and Greek concepts—a church of the world.

However, his term for “who takes away the sins of the world” could not be any more forthright and culturally meaningful.  It is a word that translates with clarity whether my background is Hebrew, Greek, pastoral, or economic.  The word for "takes away the sins," Airo, is not only to “take away”—but also to "lift up."  God takes away our sin—but he also lifts us up before God.  Our Lord—the true sacrifice—would be lifted up (on the cross) and, through his action, our sins would be taken away.

In essence, the sacrifice of Jesus would both lift up and take away the sin of the world.

After me comes a Man who is preferred before me, for He was before me

1096, he was preferred, ginomai (ghin'-om-ahee); 4413, before, protos (pro'-tos)

After me is the One who comes before me.  Confusing?  Of course—but only from a linear perspective.  However, John did not write from a linear perspective.  God does not exist in a linear framework.  God is not ruled by past, present, or future—he is able to use all time and space (omnipresent), all cause and effect (onniscient),  and all power and authority (omnipotent) to His advantage.

What John the Baptist is telling his followers is that he did not always recognize Jesus as the Messiah.  Literally, the term means that “it was not given to John to recognize Jesus.”  It is as though John initially had a hard time seeing his younger cousin as the Chosen One of God.  No doubt John knew him as someone special.  However, Jesus was hidden from all (especially Satan) for those nameless years.  Mary treasured (pondered) these things in her heart—but God was not revealing his hand to anyone.

It was not until the baptism—until Jesus decided to step into public ministry—that anyone could be sure that Jesus would indeed wear the mantle of “Messiah.”

Then John would see that the one who was born after him, would be the one that was greater than him (before him); .the one whom God called into preeminent existence.  Once again the word protos [GSN4413] is used to tell us that Jesus was “before,” the root word for prototype.  Jesus is not just “before,” he is greatest, unique, and the example (prototype) of God’s love.

What does all this mean?  Before we ever turned to God, before we even had a hint about His plan—while we were “yet sinners” our salvation existed in the form of Jesus Christ.  Jesus was not an afterthought to the fall of man; he was precursor to the inevitable. God knew we were going to sin and created us anyway; our salvation was already in place before we even fell.

John 1:31-34

[31] “I did not recognize Him, but so that He might be manifested to Israel, I came baptizing in water.” [32] John testified saying, “I have seen the Spirit descending as a dove out of heaven, and He remained upon Him. [33] “I did not recognize Him, but He who sent me to baptize in water said to me, ‘He upon whom you see the Spirit descending and remaining upon Him, this is the One who baptizes in the Holy Spirit.’ [34] “I myself have seen, and have testified that this is the Son of God.”

“I did not recognize Him…”

1492, I knew him not, eido (i'-do); 5319, revealed, phaneroo (fan-er-o'-o)

Here is a statement of faith that should remind us of a true Christian’s work.  John literally says, “The Messiah was not revealed to me yet [GSN1492 eido]; but I still did what I was supposed to do.”

John was willing to do the task to which he was assigned with or without reward.  He was called to baptize, to prepare the way, and to get a generation of lost believers ready for the arrival of the Messiah. Indeed, his call was summarized by the prophet Malachi and repeated by the angel Gabriel even before John was conceived: “It is he who will go as a forerunner before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers back to the children, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous; so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” [Luke 1:17]

He did this despite the pressure of Herod Antipas, the verbal attacks of religious leaders and without the emotional or visible assurance of God.  He showed up faithfully everyday at the front lines of ministry and did as he was called.  He did all of that with no hint of reward; only by faith!

Will I be that faithful?  Do I keep working on the task of Christ; even when I don’t feel emotionally or spiritually charged?

Our task is no different than John’s:

Matthew 28:19-20

[19] “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, [20] teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (NAS)

Will Christ find me at the furthest edge of my world (or even my city) introducing the lost to him?  “Lord, give us the faith of John, to carry on with the task even when we don’t feel your presence.”

John’s situation was something like this: Think of someone you knew as a child—you don’t see him for years, then one day you read about him in the paper; He has been nominated for a Nobel Prize.  Immediately we think, “Well, I knew him when…”  “I didn’t think he was all that smart!”  “I remember teaching him everything he knows…”

Other people in Jesus’ village would use this statement to dismiss the Lord’s authority.  It is to John’s credit that he was able to sit down when his cousin stood up.  “He must increase, but I must decrease.” [John 3:30]

How many of us recognize that this is exactly what we must do to get out of the Lord’s way?

I saw the Spirit descending

2300, I saw, theaomai (theh-ah'-om-ahee); 2597, descending, katabaino (kat-ab-ah'-ee-no)

Yet, once again, how do we who live in a culture of materialism and immediacy relate to the idea that, for a moment, all time stood still and creation bowed to the Messiah.  In that instant; the barrier between heaven and earth united as the Lord stooped to kiss his beloved child on the forehead.  This was the Spirit descending.  This was the incredible miracle of the ages; the covenant of the Old Testament signed and sealed.

It seems to have been an instant shared only by John and the Trinity.  In the backwoods desert of Perea; John the Faithful was given the opportunity to witness the Trinity in full harmony; all centered upon the goal of salvation.  Who would have suspected that the glory of God would be revealed in the muddy Jordan in a no-name desert kingdom abhorred by all the world powers around it?

The only worth of this kingdom was that it was the crossroads to the known world; the land bridge between Africa, the Orient and Europe.  In the crux of that land bridge, our Lord was baptized.  Could it have been any more appropriate that “the bridge” between God and man would be born on the bridge between all trade routes, north, south, east, and west at a time when the entire world still had to pass through that area.

John the Baptist witnessed the crossroads of mankind linked with the cross of God.  What an honor to the man who was most faithful.

I have seen and testified

3708, seen, horao (hor-ah'-o); 3140, testified, martureo (mar-too-reh'-o)

John had not only “seen” the Lord, he had “perceived” the Lord.  It is a testament to God’s plan that the revelation had begun.  It began with John in the waters of the Jordan as John invoked crowds to; “Prepare ye the way of the Lord.”

Then, Jesus wasted no time in taking the revelation to the devil himself.  Immediately after his baptism; Christ made straightway for the desert. The area was called Satan’s Lair by the locals.  Normally, we mortals would not want to act in like manner.  Who could imagine walking straightway into a den of snakes and stating; “I’ve come to take the poison out of all of you!”

However, to Jesus, the hidden time of God’s protection was over.  God wanted Jesus revealed to the heavens, the earth, and the underworld.  It was the only way the plan of salvation and the sacrifice of the Lamb of God could be completed.

In addition, it is the action that accompanies John’s revelation that should spark a breathtaking response in Christ-Followers.  John shares; “He has been revealed to me and I would be willing to die for him (testify, witness, martyr—all of these are rooted in this word; Martus).”  It was not an empty promise; John did die for his convictions.
In contrast, am I even willing to die to my own pride to announce him as my Lord?  Are we even desirous to let go of something as eternally minuscule as our self-rigteous judgment and anger so that we can become his witnesses? 

Are we willing to even put our pride aside and reach out in compassion and reconciliation?  Let’s not even talk about testifying, witnessing, or being a “martyr” until we are at least able to die to ourselves and put the needs of other’s first.

John 1:35-37

[35] Again, the next day, John stood with two of his disciples. [36] And looking at Jesus as He walked, he said, “Behold the Lamb of God!” [37] The two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus. 

Two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus

191, heard, akouo (ak-oo'-o); 190, followed, akoloutheo (ak-ol-oo-theh'-o)

John perceives and testifies; his apostles hear and follow.

Akouo [GSN191] means to understand, not just to hear.  Akouloutheo [GSN190] means to hear and follow.  Once we understand who Jesus is; what he has done for usj and what he is willing to do for us, we simply must take action.  The scriptures have taken this concept a step further; if the knowledge of Jesus Christ does not lead to a changed life, then a person doesn’t “know” Jesus, he simply “knows of” Jesus.

The actions of the first apostles tell us more about John than they do about Jesus.  These two (we know one is Andrew and we suspect that the other is John the Beloved) were actually John the Baptist’s disciples—not Jesus’.  They were willing to live in the desert and eat grasshoppers with their master (John the Baptist).  In the language of the church today, these would be our most critical volunteers.  When you have a bible study—they are there; when the church needs a new toilet—they are there; when funding is bleak—they reach for their wallets.  Such dedication is hard to find and to be treasured in our day. It was also treasured in John the Baptist’s day too.

Yet, the moment that John sees Jesus returning from the desert, he turns to his best two volunteers and says; “There is the Lamb of God.”  It takes no more prompting than that—the disciples are up and “out of there.”  No good-bye and no thank you.

This should tell us that the entire focus of John’s life is to point to the Messiah.  He truly only sees himself as a signpost on the way to the Christ.  He is, at most, a rest stop on the way to salvation and yet, as you pull in to the rest area it is clearly posted; “No permanent dwelling on these premises.”

Is this how we look at the people of our church?  Do we guard them as if they were “ours” or point them outward because they are “His?”  Are we clambering to bring in more members or committed to send out more disciples?

John 1:38-42

[38] Then Jesus turned, and seeing them following, said to them, “What do you seek?” They said to Him, “Rabbi” (which is to say, when translated, Teacher), “where are You staying?” [39] He said to them, “Come and see.” They came and saw where He was staying, and remained with Him that day (now it was about the tenth hour). [40] One of the two who heard John speak, and followed Him, was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother. [41] He first found his own brother Simon, and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which is translated, the Christ). [42] And he brought him to Jesus. Now when Jesus looked at him, He said, “You are Simon the son of Jonah. You shall be called Cephas” (which is translated, A Stone).

Then Jesus turned…

4762, turned, strepho (stref'-o);

There are words in the bible that if we just hesitated upon them, paused in their wonder (Selah; is the word the Psalmists used), then those words would format our understanding of God and change our relationship with him completely.  The three words in this heading are just such an example.  In fact, the entire bible could be summed up in; “Then Jesus turned…”

This word for turn is similar to another word, metanoia—the word used by Paul and others for conversion.  It means to turn around completely, to change or convert.  Imagine, if you will the Prince of Creation—converting for us.  We think of conversion as something we do.  But, here, the Word of Life converts all of his energy into two young men.  He turns all of his might and mission to focus on these two “interruptions.”  He ceases his march from the wilderness in order to respond to the question of two teen-agers.

Can I even fathom this?  That God’s Son changed his agenda for two lost kids.  Is he any less likely to do this for us?

There is something both challenging and compassionate about this historic moment.  Jesus is on a determined “march”’ more than he is on a walk.  He had just delivered God’s summons to Satan’s very doorstep—he understands fully that he has a very limited amount of time to accomplish his ministry.  Satan will do all that he can to stop Jesus before his “appointed time.”

Many of us have a mission but it often causes us to march forward with blinders on, totally absorbed in our own world.  The mission of Jesus Christ caused him to march headfirst into teaching, vision-sharing, and people building.  What we call interruptions—he called the work of God.

It has taken me years to learn that my work is my interruptions (and I still fall short of this guideline everyday).  It has taken me years to perceive that God is working through those daily disturbances and placing people into my path for God’s purposes (which should also be mine).  I think back with great sorrow on times that I might have muttered under my breath; “I don’t have time for this.”

When Jesus is entrusted (out of the blue) with his first two followers, there is no sense of; “I don’t have time for two kids, I have a mission to complete!  I have to reach the known world.”

No, the entire energy of Jesus the Christ, converts entirely upon these two young faces. As far as the Lord is concerned, time stops.

If we would only spend a tenth of the energy on who God sends us rather on impressing people or grumbling about those who are not present—God would bless our lives immeasurably.  What a radical change in perspective and fulfillment we would experience! The closer we come to being the radical type of leader that Jesus was, the less we look at our week and ask: “What tasks do I need to accomplish?” And, the more we ask; “What people does God want me to see?” We move from doing to being in a radical transition in the way we live.

The compassionate aspect of this word is in the approach of Andrew and John.  In this tender moment, the two young men are at a loss for words.  They are awestruck.  This is the Messiah before whom even their Master (John the Baptist) bows.  They stammer and argue as they follow the “Lamb of God.”  Imagine the humor in this scene;
Andrew might have begun; “You talk to him.”

“I’m not going to talk to him,” John replies.  “You stop him –you’re older.”

“That’s why you should say something; he ain’t gonna get mad at a kid!  My Rabbi never listens to me!”

“What are you talking about?  I wouldn’t know where to start talking to him.  I mean, what do you say to the Lamb of God?  Baahhhh?!!”

Meanwhile, Jesus must hear them.  Looking down a camera lens from in front of these three, there must be a smile on our Lord’s face.  These two young men, filled with trepidation, approach Jesus, and yet never speak to him.  Still, that is all that is required for their salvation.  Do we realize that?  Jesus does not turn to them because they have the right words or rituals.  Jesus turns to them because they are trying to follow him!

If we try to follow—he will convert!  He will turn the full force of his love and step immediately into our lives.

Following Christ is more about “trying” than succeeding.  Every true Christian fails more times than they succeed.  It is because we take great risks; it is because we don’t play it safe.  The truth is that being Christian is not about being legally perfect; but about getting up one more time than you fall down.

The Messiah turns… he converts… he stops what he is doing because we are the reason he came to earth.  Would I do the same if two lost teens called my name?

What do you seek?

5101, what, tis (tis); 2212, do you seek, zeteo (dzay-teh'-o)

“What do you seek?”

The leader who does not start his day without asking his followers this question is a manipulator.  However, can you imagine that God himself, in human form, would make this his first question of leadership to his followers?  Jesus, who converts the full force of his mission onto two young men, brings the heart of total compassion into four words; “What do you seek?”

Was there impatience in his voice?  Like; “Why are you bothering me; can’t you see I’m on a mission from God?”  After all, these people came out of nowhere and started mumbling and tripping along behind him.  Was there compassion in his voice?  Like; “What have you been looking for in your deepest heart?”

In the deepest sense of the word, the word for seek, "Zeteo," could also be phrased as; “What do you worship?”  “What do you treasure?”  “For what would you give your life?”

The Shepherd of the Universe does not begin with a sermon.  He doesn’t start with pronouncements or pontificating.  He begins with the ultimate question of compassionate leadership; “What do you hope for?”

To share Jesus with others must start in a like manner.  Not telling people what they need, but asking people about their hopes: Listening, not telling; understanding, not selling.  That is the path of the Christ-Follower and Christian Leader.

Master, where are you staying?

1320, Master, didaskalos (did-as'-kal-os); 4226, where, pou (poo); 3306, staying, meno (men'-o);

“Master, where are you staying?”

Imagine the beautiful face of our savior turning full length to yours.  Imagine the intensity of standing before Him, eye-to-eye, close enough to feel his breath.   The master of salvation turns to you and asks; “What’s your heart’s desire?”

Would you say; “Salvation.”  Would you say; “World peace.”  Would you say; “End hunger.”

Chances are that we mere mortals would hang our heads and say; “I dunno.”  The best these two apostles can do is scratch out is a meager; “So, where are you staying tonight?”

Yet, the Kingdom of God is built upon such a simple questions.  There is no pretension here.  No attempt to impress God with what I pretend to know.  Salvation is ultimately about serving and following, not knowing or doing. 

Where is Jesus going in my town?  Where Would Jesus Be?  Don’t worry about “What Would Jesus Do”—just go where he would be and take his love with you. It is easy to do what Jesus would do if you’re not where Jesus would be! It is easy to stand up in a church full of “Christians” and talk about God. But can we go to the hospitals, rest homes, detention centers, and jails with as much compassion and ask; “What is it that your heart treasures most?”

“Come and see…”

2064, come, erchomai (er”-khom-ahee); 2532, and, kai (kahee); 1492, see, eido (i'-do)

Jesus was not asked a theological question and he did not give a theological response.  His first two statements to his disciples were; “What do you seek?” and; “Come and see.”

Yet, the longest theological treatise could have never been deeper.  In all the books of leadership and faith, no one has ever simplified the words of public leadership better than these seven words of Jesus.  These are the words of true sincerity and transparency. 

  • Ultimate Sincerity:  “Share with me your greatest fears and hopes.”
  • Ultimate Transparency: “Let’s walk the path together.  Learn my heart by spending time with me.”

Our greatest loss in leadership is that we rely on books and not mentoring.  We rely on programs, not on relationships.  “Come and see,” is a far cry from; “Listen and learn,” or even, “Go and do.”

Eventually, Jesus would speak the words; “Go and do.”  However, they would not come until very late in his ministry.  During the interim, his life was never a mystery.  Those who wanted to know Jesus found he was an open book and all they had to do was “listen and follow.”

Unquestionably, there were times of private prayer.  Yet, that was part of the example he lived too.  To know Jesus was to hang around with him.  That is the praxis of mentoring.  We learn by watching good role models deal with life.  We learn by seeing mentors do an activity and then doing it with them.

We have so little relational learning today for a number of reasons:

  • It is not cost-effective.
  • It requires a substantial amount of time.
  • It would require relationship and living a life that says; “Watch what I do and what I say.”

This last one is the deepest issue.  It talks about not living a duplicitous lifestyle.  It means we have to live up to what we say.  It means there is no public persona that is contradicted by hidden, personal demons.

In our segmented, professional society, it is much easier to compartmentalize our identity.  On Sundays, from 09:00 to 11:30, I can be the “public me.”  For the rest of the week, I revel in the “private me.”

“Come and see,” means transparency, not compartmentalization.  I am one “me” to Jesus and the same “me” to my community and the same “me” to my family.

Without a doubt, we need the help of Jesus to be that transparent.  Yet, he is willing to go forward with us and also retreat with us.  His power alone can make us as transparent as he is.

“He first found his brother…”

3778, he, houtos (hoo'-tos); 412, first, proton (pro'-ton); 2147, find, heurisko (hyoo-ris'-ko);

We might read this as; “The first thing that came to Andrew’s mind was to find his big brother and tell him about Jesus.”

Isn’t this the simple beauty of the Gospel?  Andrew could have followed John just to learn the right things to do to prepare for salvation.  However, instead he fell in love with Jesus and his first action was to run home to tell his favorite brother.  He had to tell Simon, not “what to do,” but, “who to know.” and isn’t that the best way to prepare for salvation after all?

Ultimately, sharing about Jesus is not about telling others what to do.  It is about sharing what the Lord did for me.  “He loved me—and you know what a sinner I am—He will love you too.”

There is another story of a man who wanted to tell his family about God’s presence.  It is the story of Dives, the rich man.; the man who ignored Lazarus.  When he is in the pit of despair, he looks to Abraham and says; “Send that beggar Lazarus to tell my family there is a hell.”

Dives still doesn’t get it.  He still thinks he can boss Lazarus around—even from the depths of hell!

Abraham’s response isn’t anger or judgment.  Dive’s already been judged for his ignorance (his act of “ignoring”).  His response could best be summarized as; “Lazarus is in God's hands now, you can’t abuse him anymore.”

For Andrew, time was running out on the day.  It was already “the tenth hour” (the Jewish time clock only ran twelve hours).   He didn’t want a single day to pass without telllng his brother to meet Jesus.  So he ran home as fast as he could! 

We too must “run home.”  There’s no time left for our petty grudges and grievances.  Run Now!  Follow Jesus to where he’s sleeping tonight and then go get your family so you can tell them where to find Jesus as well.  Andrew is a man with a mission—Jesus moved him and now he is on the move.  What fire do we need to light in order to ignite our spirits so that we will run and get the “Simon’s” in our lives?

“We have found the Messiah, the Christ!”

2147, we have found, heurisko (hyoo-ris'-ko); 3323, The Messiah, Messias (mes-see'-as); 5547, The Christ, Christos (khris-tos')


That should be all we need to say… one giant exclamation point at the mention of the name Christos.  For indeed, here is the “exclamation point” of life!

There is no doubt that these two youngsters had searched for answers all their life.  They had left their work and families to follow John.  Undoubtedly, that was no small issue in a society where your best labor force was your family, after all, they were free labor.  Imagine Peter, the older brother who had to fill Andrew’s place in the boat.  Suddenly, his little brother comes leaping down the shoreline; “We have found him!  We have found him!”  How is Simon supposed to respond?

Keep in mind that the last time Simon heard those words was when Andrew took off to follow a man whose idea of a smorgasbord was grasshoppers and wild honey (probably with a dozen or so bees still mixed in).  I don’t imagine there was much tolerance among Simon and the other brothers who had been left to work in the slimy nets on Lake Galilee.

Here’s what Andrew’s brother, Simon (Peter), and John’s brother, James, might have literally heard: “We have found (perceived/obtained) The One ordained to bring us salvation!”

Can you imagine the incredible joy in the heart of John and Andrew as they tore out into the dark and sprinted to find their brothers?  “Drop the nets (they fished at night on the Sea of Galilee); drop everything, here is someone (note, not something) worth dedicating your life to.”

How many of us would be hindered by the words; “Be practical.”  How many of us would be stopped by our own fears?  How many of us might even hide the news because we wouldn’t want people to mock us for finding yet another Messiah?  And indeed, aren’t some of us often prone to wanting to be the Messiah ourselves and thereby to not send people to the real Jesus?

It is important to note that these two young men had just met Jesus.  They were not “versed” in Jesus.  They didn’t carry any salvation tracts, catechesis, or bibles.  There was no “theology or ritual” to push.  They were not anointed by a community or even by the Lord; they just needed to share the person of Jesus.  So, what is stopping us from doing the same?  Why are we not “running” with an exclamation point on our lips?

You shall be called

2564, be called, kaleo (kal-eh'-o)

These words are spoken purposefully to Simon, yet the mystery of the Gospel is that God calls each of us by a new name.

Isaiah 62:4

4 It will no longer be said to you, “Forsaken,” nor to your land will it any longer be said, “Desolate;” but you will be called, “My delight is in her,” and your land, “Married”; for the LORD delights in you, and {to Him} your land will be married. (NAS)

Society has names for us too.  Names all too often based on our failures and our past.  One study has said that for every one time a child will hear his name in the positive they will hear it used eleven times negatively.  Some children grow up hearing; “Stupid,” or, “ugly.”  Other children hear; “Nigger,” or, “Beaner.”  Sadly enough, some children don’t hear anything. They just blend in; head down throughout the day, and desperately face the darkness alone every night.  Mom and dad are just too busy to “turn” to them as Jesus “turned” (converted) for John and Andrew.

Now, here is the awesome news; Jesus doesn’t name Peter for what he did.  Our Lord names Peter for what he believes he can become.  Then, our Lord gives Peter his full attention in order to help him achieve that name.  Peter is no longer “Simon,” “fisherman,” or “Galilean.”  Now, he is “the Rock.”

Jesus has a name for your future as well.  It is a name of triumph and glory—of hope and awesome beauty.  The word “called” [GSN2564] means not only named—but “to bid” or “to call forward” from the norm.  The name that Jesus has for you will call you forward; will bid you to grow; it will “call you from obscurity and into history.”
It is our love for Jesus that, in turn, takes us outward to call others by their God-found name.  When we look into someone else’s face –it should never be to accept the names that this world has “called” them.  We must look upon others with the eyes of Jesus.  What does God “call” them? What does God see in them?  What is the bidding of Christ in their life?

Let us become a people of the exclamation point!  Let us be a people of calling, renaming, of unshakable commitment to what God sees in each person.  Let us go forth with a new name for all of Christ’s beloved.  Let us change the name of our cities and neighborhoods from desolate to delight; from forsaken to betrothed.

Overview: Then Jesus Turned…

We sat face to face separated by bulletproof glass; a small hole in the window helps us hear each other.  It was big enough to reach my fingers through when we prayed.

The young man in front of me knew his bible very well.  He had plenty of time to study it.  His  questions were beyond the ordinary inquiries one hears in jails.  Some of the questions were of the type that had drawn historic lines on denominational battlefields for centuries.

It was our first meeting, but I was impressed with his intelligence.  He was one of many young men who attempted to find Christ after making the most grotesque errors of our temporal lives.  My prayer is to prevent it from becoming the deciding error of their eternal lives.

“Travis,” I began.  “I am impressed with your head knowledge, but I want to know if it has seeped down into your heart too.”

“But, where is your heart, Travis?”

Suddenly, the tears started forming.  “I just want to know I can be forgiven.” (Travis was one of two males and a female that I was visiting at the time who were facing the death penalty).

“Then Jesus turned…”
Three simple words, but the whole of our beliefs can be found in them.  Jesus, recently baptized, delivers God’s summons on Satan’s doorstep, then sets out—determined to accomplish his earthly charter.  On the way, he is interrupted by two unlikely characters; both lowly fishermen, and both probably little more than teenagers.

“Then Jesus turned…”
The whole of creation listens for this heartbeat.  The direct translation would be; “At that moment Jesus converted.”
What?!  The Son of God converting?

Yes, he suddenly “converts” all of his energy, all of his passion and direction and pours it into the two young interruptions that are shaking behind him in their sandals.

There I sat; a glass away from such a holy interruption. “Travis, where is the treasure of your heart?”

“Where is your treasure?”
Jesus’ first words to the first disciples of the New Jerusalem were not just; “What do you seek?”  They were more like; “Where is your heart?”  Actually, his words would be even better rendered as; “Where is your treasure?”  Yet, the Savior tells us; “Where our heart is –so is our treasure.”

Travis’ treasure lay in one word; “Forgiveness.”

In the bible story, Andrew—the older disciple—runs home to get his brother.  Simon, is in a huff (after all, he had to fulfill all of his younger brother’s responsibilities while Andrew traipsed about the country seeking the next Messiah).  “Simon the Colossal storms towards Jesus to see Andrew’s new “Messiah-of-the-Day.”  Yet, before he can utter a word—Jesus calls him a name.  Not fisherman, not hothead, and not Galilean (a term used in derision by Jews and Romans alike).

“You shall be called…”
Jesus calls him by a new name.  Not based in what he was—but, instead, what he could be if he gave his life to God.
Do I have the ability to hear God’s name for this murderer; this convict, and sinner sitting before me?  I have heard the treasure of his heart; can I help him hear the name God has for him; “Forgiven?”

The real question is; “How dare I not?”

About the Author

Jerry Goebel has worked with youth and young adults for over thirty years. Twenty of those years have been spent focusing primarily on reaching out to at-risk youth on the streets or in the juvenile court system.  Jerry developed ONEFamily Outreach, which trains mentors to work with disconnected youth (incarcerated youth, youth in recovery, and youth who are expelled from school). Jerry travels extensively to teach adults how to become more effective in empowering young people to become a positive influence within their communities
He also leads retreats, mission weeks, and concerts for adults and young people on a variety of topics ranging from social justice and compassionate leadership to how communities, schools, and churches can prevent at-risk behavior.
Jerry has received five popular music awards from the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers, a Best Educational Video Award from the National Catholic Education Association, and a lifetime achievement award from the National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry for living Gospel Values.
To contact or book Jerry for a presentation in your area write or call:
Jerry Goebel
ONEFamily Outreach
(509) 525-0709

Other Works by Jerry Goebel

Weekly Gospel Study based upon the Lectionary Cycle (membership, by donation)

To subscribe, go to: http://onefamilyoutreach.com
Jerry began these studies when he was a missionary in the Yakima County Jails. The focus of these in-depth commentaries was to provide knowledge about Jesus Christ, his culture, and his language, but also to reveal the compassion of our Lord and our call to discipleship. A very important aspect of this study was to provide practical applications for the readers as well as challenge them to “do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God.”

Youth Curriculum Accompaniment to the Weekly Gospel Study (membership, by donation)

To subscribe, contact: jerry@onefamilyoutreach.com
Every week, Jerry takes a group of adults into the local County Juvenile Detention Center to lead “Significant Conversations.” Though this outreach is part of the public education component of the detention center the material is based upon values found in each week’s reading. Each session has a brief overview of the topic followed by a series of strength-based, open-ended questions, that help the young person move the values from their hearts to their minds, and finally to practical application. Whether you work with young people or adults, in a secular or faith-based climate, the principles used and the topics chosen will have an impact on the people you see.

The Deepest Longing of Young People: Loving Without Conditions $14.95 (paperback)

To order, go to: http://www.smp.org/ItemDetail.cfm?ItemNum=3823
This book is a faith-based overview of the needs of young people in a culture that has a difficult time understanding the difference between performance-based approval and unconditional dignity. It is a scriptural framework for engaging a young person in a healthy adult relationship in today’s society.

Significant Conversations: Helping Young People Live Meaningful Lives $14.95 (8.5 x 11 inch spiral bound with printable worksheets)

Significant Conversations is a workbook for adults who want to have a meaning-filled relationship with a young person. There are 14 conversations in this workbook and each section includes an adult overview, a youth overview, and an opportunity to “expand your emotional vocabulary.” Finally, each of the conversations ends with strength-based, open-ended questions that deepen the impact of the topic and a weekly calendar that identifies opportunities for applying the topic to one’s life.

Is There Hope For Me Now? $8.95 (paperback with writing space for journaling)

This book is actually for young people who are going through a rough time. It helps them to work through some critical issues by journaling about such important matters as their emotions, forgiveness, choosing a healthy self-identity, and creating a positive vision for their life.

Musical Collections $12.95 (CD’s, each with 15 original works by Jerry Goebel)

To subscribe, go to: http://onefamilyoutreach.com/bookscds.html
Jerry’s career began in the late 1970’s when, as a teenager, he left home to begin a musical career that has lasted three decades and spanned the world. During that time, Jerry received five popular music awards from the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers as well as being nominated for two Dove Awards from the Gospel Music Association.

Copyright Notice

Copyright © 2005 Jerry Goebel. All Rights Reserved.  This study may be freely distributed, as long as it bears the following attribution: Source: Jerry Goebel: 2005 © http://onefamilyoutreach.com.
Scripture Quotations noted from NASB are from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD VERSION of the bible. Copyright © The Lockman Foundation 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995. Used by permission. (www.Lockman.org)
The New Testament Greek Lexicon based on Thayer’s and Smith’s Bible Dictionary plus others; this is keyed to the large Kittel and the “Theological Dictionary of the New Testament.” These files are public domain.
The Old Testament Hebrew Lexicon is Brown, Driver, Briggs, Gesenius Lexicon; this is keyed to the “Theological Word Book of the Old Testament.” These files are considered public domain.
NAS Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible with Hebrew-Aramaic and Greek Dictionaries. Copyright © 1981, 1998 by The Lockman Foundation. All rights reserved. (www.Lockman.org)

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