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.
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).
I was having a brief discussion with a young friend of mine who was raised in the Roman Catholic Church, and she rather sheepishly admitted that she didn't understand the differences between the religions. I thought at first that she meant she didn't know the differences between the Christian denominations--which is not too uncommon among even those who are within those denominations. But then she said, "I really don't know the difference between Jews and Christians." My goodness! What are they teaching in catechism classes these days?!? So, in order to gently ease her in the right direction, I said to her, "The basic thing is that Jews do not believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Christ." We didn't get much chance to talk more about it after that, but I pray that planted the seed for her to seek to know more.
I think my young friend is not alone in her lack of knowledge about what sets Christianity apart from other faiths. The sadder part is that many self-professed Christians don't really know what sets Jesus Himself apart from all other saints, prophets, and wise men. In this modern age of vague spirituality and à la carte "Christianity" (and I use that term very loosely), many people who were raised in Christian churches have lost sight of what sets them apart from Jews and Muslims and Buddhists. In a half-hearted attempt at tolerance and political correctness, many young people make a point of NOT trying to distinguish their faith from another's, and so we end up with that common modern mantra that "all paths lead to God."
Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me."
Are our children learning that Jesus is the ONE way, truth, and life? Are they learning that what sets them apart is not just that they HAVE faith but that they have faith in the one true and only Messiah of God?
In today's verses from the Gospel of John, we witness the calling of the first apostles, Andrew and his brother Simon--whom Jesus names "Cephas," which is a Chaldean equivalent for the Greek "Petros," stone. Note what Andrew says to his brother to get him to come see who he has found:
"We have found the Messiah."
The Messiah. Not A Messiah, not ANOTHER Messiah, not the Messiah-of-the-week. THE Messiah.
And what does that word mean? "Messiah" is a Hebrew word that means "Anointed." Most often in the Old Testament, it is used to refer to a priest or prophet or king who has been anointed to perform a particular service.
1 Samuel 24:4-6
4 Then the men of David said to him, "This is the day of which the LORD said to you, 'Behold, I will deliver your enemy into your hand, that you may do to him as it seems good to you.'" And David arose and secretly cut off a corner of Saul's robe.
5 Now it happened afterward that David's heart troubled him because he had cut Saul's robe.
6 And he said to his men, "The LORD forbid that I should do this thing to my master, the LORD's anointed, to stretch out my hand against him, seeing he is the anointed of the LORD."
We don't think of King Saul as THE Anointed One, and yet he was anointed as king by order of the Lord Himself. But the word "Messiah" is used in other contexts to bring us closer to understanding who Christ is.
13 For the LORD has chosen Zion;
He has desired it for His dwelling place:
14 "This is My resting place forever;
Here I will dwell, for I have desired it.
15 "I will abundantly bless her provision;
I will satisfy her poor with bread.
16 "I will also clothe her priests with salvation,
And her saints shall shout aloud for joy.
17 "There I will make the horn of David grow;
I will prepare a lamp for My Anointed.
18 "His enemies I will clothe with shame,
But upon Himself His crown shall flourish."
With the revelation of Jesus we understand these and similar verses better today, understand that God sent Jesus as His Anointed One to be our salvation--not just the salvation of the Jews but the salvation of all humanity.
And Abraham said, "My son, God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering." So the two of them went together.
Jesus Christ is the Anointed Lamb of God, the Son of God, the only one who could provide the complete payment for our own sins to bring us to eternal life. When John the Baptist pointed out Jesus as "the Lamb of God," he was announcing the arrival of the perfect, sinless Son of God "who takes away the sin of the world." (John 1:29) Such salvation is no mean feat, it is something that could only be accomplished by God Himself--not by A Messiah but only by THE Messiah.
What Andrew recognized was that this Jesus he had met was indeed the Anointed One--"Messiah" in Hebrew, "Christos" in Greek--sent to save humanity from its sins, to bring God's salvation and grace to the world, to right what had been set wrong with Adam. What sets Christians apart from all other faiths is that, as Andrew said, "We have found the Messiah." We have found the One who is the only true path to God. We have found the One who is the very Son of God, able to forgive our sins and bring us to righteousness. We have found the One whose Holy Spirit comes to abide in us who believe, guiding us to the truth of His Word. We have found the One who was foretold hundreds of times in the Hebrew Bible, and whose gospel is told in the New Testament. We have found the One who was able to institute a new covenant in His blood for the remission of our sins, that we might become sons and daughters of God. We have indeed found the Messiah.
I hope to be able to discuss this again with my young friend, but even if I do not, I pray that she will seek instruction and understanding, that she will want to know more what sets her apart from others in this world. We who believe in Jesus Christ are not better than the rest of the world, but we ARE redeemed by His blood, and we pray that others will come to Him, too, and be saved. We need to be sure that we understand what it is that sets Jesus apart from all the other saints and prophets and wise men of history, understand that He alone is the Lamb of God sent to save the world. We need to be sure we know what it means to say Jesus is the Christ, the Anointed One of God. And once we see who He truly is, then, like Andrew, we need to find our brothers and sisters and friends, and tell them, "We have found the Messiah."
Our Father in heaven, we praise You for sending Your own Son to be the Lamb sacrificed for our sins, He whose blood has overcome the devil and brought the kingdom of God once again to men. We praise the Holy Name of Jesus, who alone is the way, the truth, and the life--the one true path to You, Father God. We praise Him as our Messiah, our Christ, as Your Anointed One. We hold Him dear in our hearts, and we lift up our hands and sing glory to You for Your salvation and grace. Amen.
Thanks for sharing this insightful article on understanding who the Messiah is. I hope your young Christian friend and others will get a chance to read it and be convinced that Christianity is truly different and apart from other religions because of who Jesus is, the Anointed One of God, sent to save us from our sins.