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John the Baptist

JOHN THE BAPTIST

It’s said that “God works in mysterious ways.” Have you ever wondered ‘Why?’ Why can’t he just operate in ‘normal’ ways like the rest of us? Why can’t he just be logical, easier to understand? Why does he have to be so ‘mysterious’?

One example of God’s ‘mysterious’ methods is the fact that he used a person like John the Baptist for such a prominent role in his plan of salvation. John was, what some would consider to be, an odd – perhaps, mysterious – character. He spent his time out in the middle of nowhere. He wore camel’s hair for clothing. His diet consisted of locusts and wild honey. And yet, his oddest characteristics are found in what he did and in what he said. He boldly told the truth, even though, at times, that truth made him very unpopular. He poured simple water on people, telling them that they needed to repent of their sins. He stood his ground, despite the fact that that’s what led to his imprisonment and, eventually, to his execution. Odd though he was, Jesus said of him, “among those born of women, there is no one greater than John.”

Why? Why the doom and gloom? Why the brutal honesty? Why the insistence on telling people to do that which was uncomfortable and unnatural for them to do? Why didn’t he just leave people to their happy thoughts of self-worth and self-reliance? Because he actually cared about the truth. He cared enough to tell people what they needed to hear…not necessarily what they wanted to hear. John the Baptist came to prepare the world for the coming of Jesus, the Messiah that was promised and prophesied throughout the Old Testament. He urged people to acknowledge and repent of their sins so that they might rely on Jesus and his worth as the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). He called for a change of heart and a change of action, for “fruit in keeping with repentance” (Matthew 3:8) so that the light of Christ would shine brighter and longer and wider throughout the world for all people to see Christ’s  love, to see his salvation.

Why does God work in “mysterious ways,” through unlikely people, with a humanly illogical message? Honestly, we can’t always say why, but we can say this: “If God were small enough for us to understand, he would not be big enough to be worshiped” (Jeske, p. 3, Connecting Sinai to Calvary: A Guide to the Old Testament). Be glad that “[God’s] ways are higher than your ways,” and find comfort in the fact that “[His] thoughts are higher than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:9). This just proves that he’s worthy of his title and worthy of your faith. Trust his wisdom. Believe his promises. Find peace in his loving forgiveness and in the guarantee of eternal life in heaven through Jesus!

Old Testament


Who is Moses and the prophets? More topics and answers found here.

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New Testament


Who is Jesus and why should I care? Here, you will find answers!

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About the Bible


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WHO IS JESUS?

Many people have many different ideas. Just a good man who lived and died? A charismatic man whose followers stretched the truth? A holy man with some connection to the divine? A prophet like Mohammed? Who is Jesus?

WORSHIP

Ever have a question about worship practices but didn’t know whom to ask? Well here’s the place for you! Learn the meaning of the Scripture readings in church,. Learn how to pray. And understand religious terms used in the church setting.

Apostle Peter

APOSTLE PETER

Simon Peter was a blue-collar man. He hauled nets over gunwales for a living. Peter had a sibling, also a fisherman. These men had a fresh-water, wooden-boat operation working out of docks on the northern edge of the Sea of Galilee. Andrew introduced his brother to Jesus with stirring words: “We have found the Messiah” (John 1:41).

An unforgettable scene: Jesus is walking along the stony beach. He comes upon a little group tending their nets after a night’s work–picking them clean, sewing up tears, drying and folding them for the next run out on the water. Jesus says, “Follow me; I will make you fishers of men.” They did, and he did.

Peter’s wife, whose name we do not know, is mentioned several times. Her mother lived with the couple in Capernaum.

Quotable:

“Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man” (Luke 5).

“You are the Christ, the son of the living God” (Matthew 16).

“Lord, if it’s you … tell me to come to you on the water” (Matthew 14).

“He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection from the dead” (1 Peter 1).

“Rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed” (1 Peter 4).

“Always be prepared to give an answer to anyone who asks you the reason for the hope that you have” (1 Peter 3).

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Jesus called twelve men to him, designating them apostles. An apostle was an eyewitness. They saw the Messiah alive, dead, then alive again. Before the apostles died, they wrote down for us what they had seen and heard. Jesus gave to the Twelve spiritual gifts: the authority to preach the good news of God’s forgiveness, to heal every kind of disease, to drive demons out of people. How did blue-collar Simon Peter handle all this privilege and authority? The Bible doesn’t blink: it shows an impulsive human being who blurted, who thought of himself first, who made promises he couldn’t keep, who was the first to reach for a sword. What moved him, self-love? Was it insecurity? In a painful scene close to the crucifixion, Peter fears for his own safety. He sees a way out and swore off Jesus publicly, pointedly, energetically, bombastically, pitifully. Afterwards, however, Peter broke down. He would later write, “Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).

Sometime after the humiliating events of Good Friday, we find Peter back in Galilee, back to his nets. He’s out on the water at night. With morning light comes a surprise: at the shore is a man calling to the boat. Then another surprise: Peter hurriedly rolls his sleeves and peels off his outer garment. Into the water he plunges, swimming, splashing, trying to run. A silly thing to see from a grown man. But the Lord Jesus did see, and did share a shore breakfast, and did re-commission his fearful, fallen fisherman.

“Lord, to whom else could we go? You have the words of eternal life” (John 6:68).

Old Testament


Who is Moses and the prophets? More topics and answers found here.

View topics



New Testament


Who is Jesus and why should I care? Here, you will find answers!

View topics



About the Bible


What is the Bible? Find an answer to this question and more.

Learn more

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

WHO IS JESUS?

Many people have many different ideas. Just a good man who lived and died? A charismatic man whose followers stretched the truth? A holy man with some connection to the divine? A prophet like Mohammed? Who is Jesus?

WORSHIP

Ever have a question about worship practices but didn’t know whom to ask? Well here’s the place for you! Learn the meaning of the Scripture readings in church,. Learn how to pray. And understand religious terms used in the church setting.

Apostle John

APOSTLE JOHN

This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.  (1 John 4:10-11)

Love is a versatile word.  We love people, we love pets, we love movies, food, days, jokes, and weather.  Unfortunately, such frequent use of the word has diluted the concept of love.  A man can say that he loves his wife and that he loves Thanksgiving dinner, but he dare not put the two on the same level!

The apostle John has been called the apostle of love.  He referred to himself as “the disciple whom Jesus loved,” and love is a common theme in the five books of the Bible he penned.  Those books make clear that love is more than simply a strong like for something.

True love for someone, according to God, is doing what benefits that person, even at the expense of your own comfort or pleasure.  “This is how God showed his love among us:  He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him” (1 John 4:9).  He became man, lived in a sin-filled world, suffered torture, and died.  He did it all for you.  He made the ultimate sacrifice because he knew it was what you needed most.  His sacrifice has paid for your sins, giving you eternal life in heaven and new meaning for life on earth.  That is true love.

John was uniquely qualified to write about true love.  He was a firsthand witness at the foot of the cross.  There Jesus showed love for his own mother by appointing John to care for her, even as he himself was suffering.  Then he showed love for all people as he cried out, “It is finished,” and gave up his life.

The apostle of love makes a natural conclusion.  “Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (1 John 4:11).  This is how God continues to bless us with his love.  Communities of Christians care for one another by letting the love of God flow through them to one another.  One Christian acts in the best interests of other Christians, knowing that they are doing the same for him.  John summed it all up well:  “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19).

Old Testament


Who is Moses and the prophets? More topics and answers found here.

View topics



New Testament


Who is Jesus and why should I care? Here, you will find answers!

View topics



About the Bible


What is the Bible? Find an answer to this question and more.

Learn more

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

WHO IS JESUS?

Many people have many different ideas. Just a good man who lived and died? A charismatic man whose followers stretched the truth? A holy man with some connection to the divine? A prophet like Mohammed? Who is Jesus?

WORSHIP

Ever have a question about worship practices but didn’t know whom to ask? Well here’s the place for you! Learn the meaning of the Scripture readings in church,. Learn how to pray. And understand religious terms used in the church setting.

Apostle Paul

APOSTLE PAUL

Born Saul to Jewish parents, yet he inherited a Roman citizenship. His home was not the land of Israel. He was single, but not a loner. He could make a long list of both men and women friends. We know he had a sister and that he was an uncle to a young man.

The Mediterranean landscapes familiar to him came from countries we still hear about: Israel, Syria, Turkey, Greece, Albania, Italy, perhaps Spain. God tuned Paul’s heart to a multi-cultural frequency. He could speak several languages; we find him at work in the city. That world was a mix of Greek, Roman and oriental culture. There was plenty wrong with it – – slavery, brutality, illicit sex, and pagan religion. Some criticize Paul for taking unnecessary risks, but he learned how to exploit the hard laws and the hard roads of the empire into which he’d been born.

He didn’t become a Christian until he was an adult. Jesus stopped him on a road near the great city of Damascus. The mystifying thing about this conversation was that Jesus had been killed on a cross years before, rose from the dead and had ascended to heaven. You may read Paul’s own account of this, a sort of court deposition in a one of the books of the Bible called Acts (chapter 26).

There are no photos of Paul. Paintings of him vary wildly: tall and spare, short and bandy-legged. As is often the case with interesting people, we get to know him best from thoughts he wrote down. Quotable:

“… in the last days, people will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents …” (2 Timothy 3)

“Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the worst” (1 Timothy 1).

“… he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy” (Titus 3).

“… to the man … who trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness” (Romans 4). “You are not your own; you were bought at a price” (1 Corinthians 6).

“I no longer live, but Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20)

“I have become all things to all men, so that by all possible means I might save some” (1 Corinthians 9).

Famous for?

Paul was a driven person. He had a painful awareness of his unbelieving past; he had an uneasy awareness of the sin that still lived in him. He understood himself to be a slave under a new master named Jesus Christ. He saw God’s work as making disciples, a “new Israel,” from all nations. He took this task seriously as he dedicated the later years of his life to that mission. This is why Paul is sometimes known as the greatest missionary the world has ever seen.

Paul would seek employment for a while stitching canvas for tents or sails, until his income permitted him his second career. He was an apostle, a “sent” witness, who’d seen the risen Lord with his own eyes. It’s sad to read that Paul’s traveling and teaching were cut off by his government. He’d actually gone down in defeat to a stronger power years previously, when a no-longer-dead King confronted him on the road outside Damascus. “Grace to all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with an undying love” (Ephesians 6:24).

Old Testament


Who is Moses and the prophets? More topics and answers found here.

View topics



New Testament


Who is Jesus and why should I care? Here, you will find answers!

View topics



About the Bible


What is the Bible? Find an answer to this question and more.

Learn more

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

WHO IS JESUS?

Many people have many different ideas. Just a good man who lived and died? A charismatic man whose followers stretched the truth? A holy man with some connection to the divine? A prophet like Mohammed? Who is Jesus?

WORSHIP

Ever have a question about worship practices but didn’t know whom to ask? Well here’s the place for you! Learn the meaning of the Scripture readings in church,. Learn how to pray. And understand religious terms used in the church setting.