Monday, October 28, 2013

Beginnings - John 1:20-51 (Part 4) - The Faith of the First Disciples

What did their faith look like? At first glance, the faith of the five disciples seems unnaturally sudden and mature. They believe in Jesus on a moment’s notice, and they express their faith in terms that seem more appropriate to an established Christian.

In this passage Jesus is called not only the Christ, the Messiah, the King of Israel, but also the Son of God and the Lamb of God – names that express some of the cardinal doctrines of Christianity, the Incarnation and the Atonement. The speed and maturity that seem to characterize the five disciples is really just a superficial appearance. What seemed to be an instant faith really had been building for some time and under the teaching of John the Baptist, they were longing for its fulfillment. They were a prepared group of men looking for the Messiah. They probably had seen the baptism of Jesus and the remarkable signs that came from heaven. The impression that Jesus made on them when they met tended to confirm John’s testimony about the Christ. The appearance of maturity in the faith of the five is equally superficial. The name Lamb of God was given to Jesus by John, not them. It was the name that the preacher of repentance had learned by reflection or special revelation to give to the Christ.

Even John barely comprehended what that name signified. He was just a student trying to understand his lesson. What John barely understood, the men he introduced to Jesus did not understand at all. The title Son of God was given to Jesus by one of the five disciples as well as John the Baptist, but their understanding of that term fell far short of the fullness of its meaning. They were using this title as a synonym for the Christ. The disciples spoke these titles in a way that we would expect from beginners in a new faith. They recognized in Jesus the Divine Prophet, King, Son of Old Testament prophecy; and the value of their faith did not lay in its maturity or accuracy. The beauty of their faith, however imperfect, is that it brought them into contact and close fellowship with Jesus. As they followed Him, they would see greater things than when they first believed.  One great truth after another would take its place in the firmament of their minds, like the stars appearing in the evening sky as daylight fades away.

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