Growing In Godliness Blog

Growing In Godliness Blog

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Jesus Commends Nathaniel

Friday, March 08, 2024

Jesus Commends Nathaniel

By Paul Earnhart

When Jesus left Judaea after His baptism, He left with at least five disciples.  At first, only two had followed Him: Andrew and an unnamed disciple who was probably John, the author of the gospel.  But Andrew brought his brother Simon to Jesus.  And in John 1:43 we see Jesus inviting yet another man to go with Him.  “The next day He purposed to go forth into Galilee, and He found Philip, and Jesus said to him, ‘Follow Me.’”

Philip did follow Jesus, but before they left Judaea, Philip did exactly what Andrew had done: he went and found someone else to bring to Jesus.  John 1:45 reports that “Philip found Nathanael and said to him, ‘We have found Him of whom Moses in the Law and also the Prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.’”  Nathanael was at first skeptical, asking, “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?”  But Philip did not argue with Nathanael; he simply said, “Come and see.” (John 1:46)  If WE can only get people to COME and SEE Jesus, Jesus will convince them.  He is His own best witness.

When Nathanael met Jesus, Jesus did not show resentment because of Nathanael’s reference to Nazareth; and He certainly did not begin an argument with him about His hometown.  Rather, Jesus complimented Nathanael by saying, “Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile.” (John 1:47)

We can learn much about the rearing of children from the manner in which Jesus trained His disciples.  To Simon, Jesus gave a name which he did not deserve at the time, but one that would challenge him to become what he could become.  And to Nathanael He gave a compliment.

Children should never be told that they are bad, even when their conduct is bad.  They are basically good, and they need to be constantly reminded of that.  Bad conduct is simply inconsistent with the good children they are.  And children need to be commended for every good quality they demonstrate and for every good deed they do.

Jesus Names Peter

Friday, March 01, 2024

Jesus Names Peter

By Paul Earnhart

According to John 1:42, when Andrew brought his brother Simon to Jesus, “Jesus looked at him, and said, ‘You are Simon the son of John, you shall be called Cephas’ (which means Peter).”  From this time onward, almost without exception, the scriptures refer to him as Simon Peter or simply as Peter.

The word “Cephas” means a stone.  Peter means the same.  Simon’s friends must have been surprised when Jesus renamed him Peter.  They may even have questioned the insight of Jesus.  When we see this man in his early association with Jesus, he would scarcely suggest the character of a stone.  He seems more like sand or even Jello.

But Jesus was not seeing Simon as he was; Jesus was seeing what he could and would become.  Giving him the name Peter must have been a challenge to him; it may well have been a factor in Peter’s becoming the strong disciple of Jesus that he actually became.  When we see him in Acts chapter 2, preaching fearlessly about Jesus (Acts 2:36); when we see him in Acts 5 before the Jewish council declaring that he would obey God rather than men (Acts 5:29); when in Acts 12 we see him soundly sleeping in the prison even with the sentence of death already upon his head (Acts 12:6).  These are pictures of Peter, a man of stone, just what Jesus knew he would be.

You know, Jesus does for all Christians just what He did for Peter.  He names them children of God (Rom. 8:16), even when they are as yet very much unlike God.  He calls them saints (1 Cor. 1:2), even when they seem to be far from sanctified.  He sees what we can be by His grace and Spirit, and He challenges us by calling us that.  May God help us to rise to the challenge as Peter did.

Andrew Finds Peter

Friday, February 23, 2024

Andrew Finds Peter

By Paul Earnhart

One of the first disciples of John to follow Jesus was a man by the name of Andrew.  Andrew was doubtless a good and faithful man.  He later become one of the apostles of Jesus.  But Andrew will always be known for the fact that he brought someone else to Jesus.

John 1:40-42 tells about it: “One of the two that heard John speak and followed him was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother.  He found first his own brother, Simon, and said to him, ‘We have found the Messiah’ (which translated means Christ).  He brought him to Jesus.”

It is great to find Jesus and to obtain the benefits that come from knowing Him.  It is even greater to share that knowledge with others.  And, unlike the sharing of many other things, the more we share our knowledge with others, the better we know Jesus.

Most of us like to share good news.  If we discover a useful product, we tell others about it so they can also enjoy it.  If we find a good sale somewhere, we tell our friends about it so they can go and buy at a good price.  But somehow, we are reluctant to share our knowledge of Jesus.

These days, religion is considered a very private matter.  People talk about everything else, but the subject of religion must be avoided.  If another person has no religion, that’s his business and we must not meddle.  If another person has a religion which is very clearly false, we must not even dare to question what he believes or to show him something better.

People who reason this way simply do not realize the seriousness of false religion, nor the importance of knowing Jesus.  Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life; no man come to the Father but by me” (Jn. 14:6).

Once we have found Jesus, love for others demands that we do exactly what Andrew did…we must go and find them and share that knowledge with them.  It is the greatest favor we can possibly do for them.

The First Disciples

Friday, February 16, 2024

The First Disciples

By Paul Earnhart

John the Baptist had disciples who followed him as he preached and baptized.  The gospel of John, chapter 1, tells us that two of those disciples heard John say of Jesus, “Behold the Lamb of God.”   From that time onward, they followed Jesus (Jn. 1:35-37).

Those disciples did the right thing.  John was a great teacher.  Jesus said of him that no previous servant of God was greater than John (Mt. 11:11).  Yet, Jesus was greater than John, and those disciples would have been wrong to remain with John when they could follow Jesus.  In fact, they honored John by following Jesus.

Today, there are many fine men and women who may attract our favorable attention.  Some of us have been blessed with godly parents and spiritually minded teachers.  They have taught us many valuable lessons.  But if they have been truly wise teachers, they have pointed us to Jesus.  We may sometime come to know Jesus better than they have known Him.  We may learn that they were not entirely right in their thinking about what Jesus taught.  This may bring us to a difficult decision; shall we follow what our parents or teachers believed, or what we see to be the true teaching of Jesus?  By all means, we must follow Jesus, even if it should mean leaving the things taught by others.  Of course, in following Jesus, we actually honor those who have taught us to honor Him above all others.

John was not envious of Jesus.  He was not jealous of his own position as a leader.  Indeed, he was glad to see his disciples leave him to follow Jesus.  Later he said of Jesus, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” (Jn. 3:30).  John is a good example for all of us who teach.  We must point others to Jesus.  We must impress upon those that Jesus is the only leader worth following.  We must be wise enough to reject the allegiance due only to Him.  Paul said, “We preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord…” (2 Cor. 4:5).

The Lamb of God

Friday, February 09, 2024

The Lamb of God

By Paul Earnhart

After His temptations in the wilderness, Jesus returned to the Jordan river where John was baptizing.  As Jesus approached, John exclaimed, “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (Jn. 1:29). 

How was Jesus the Lamb of God?

There are several significant things about a lamb.  Lambs are harmless.  Perhaps for this reason they have become a symbol of innocence.  Among intelligent human beings, Jesus was the truly innocent person who ever lived.  Peter, who knew Him well, was guided by the Holy Spirit to say that He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in His mouth (1 Pet. 2:22).

Sheep, and lambs in particular, are noted for their complete submission to domination.  Isaiah predicted that Jesus would be led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep that before its shearers is silent, He would not even open His mouth ( Isa. 53:7).  Jesus fulfilled this prophecy toward the end of His life when He allowed Himself to be arrested and tried.  He spoke only when spoken to and never raised His voice in His own defense.  He submitted to wicked men because He was completely submissive to God and realized this was God’s will for Him.

But the primary reason for calling Jesus a lamb was He came to be a sacrifice.  Through the years, millions of innocent lambs had been sacrificed upon the altars of sinful men.  The lambs had died that men might not have to be separated from God…the lambs died in their stead.  Of course, the death of lambs could not substitute for the death of sinful men.  Those lambs were but a symbol of the eventual sacrifice that would be sufficient as a substitute for all sinners of all time (Heb. 10:11-14).  Jesus came to be that sacrifice, and so He is called “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” 

Is He your sacrifice?  He is only if you obey Him.

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