Explore: Jesus Identified

 • The Explore the Bible lesson for Sept. 8 focuses on John 1:19-51.

“When was the last time you had your eyes checked?”

That seems like a fairly common question in our world today. It might be asked at a doctor’s appointment, or when getting or renewing your driver’s license. It could be asked of a referee or umpire of a ball game. In this week’s Bible study, much of our lesson comes down to what is seen. Perhaps it is time for us to ask the question, “Is it time for us to get our spiritual eyes checked?”

Seeing Jesus

We begin with what others saw in Jesus. John the Baptist saw him as the Lamb of God. This title was significant, of course, because of the many references to lambs in regard to the Jews’ sacrificial system. Jesus truly would be the sacrifice who would “take away the sins of the world.” It is interesting that John said he did not know Jesus. Jesus and John would have been relatives. Perhaps John meant he did not know Jesus would be the Messiah. God had given a sign—the Holy Spirit coming down as a dove—to John regarding the one who would be the Messiah.

John saw this sign and believed. Eventually, some of John’s disciples saw something in Jesus as well. They began to spend some time with him. Before long, their minds were made up too—they had found the Christ. In addition, Jesus calls Philip to come alongside him. Philip also sees something special in Jesus and begins to follow him.

Being seen by Jesus

The other half of this coin is that Jesus also saw some people in these Scriptures. First, notice the story of Andrew going and finding his brother Simon. What a great story. Andrew is the first real evangelist. He went and found his brother and told him about the Messiah. It is interesting that this first exchange between Jesus and Simon is so short, knowing all that would transpire between them down the road. Jesus sees two things about Simon.

First, he saw the reality of who Simon was. The name “Simon” is appropriate. It means “rash and impulsive.” Most of what we know about Simon in Scripture confirms this was his personality. Jesus knew his history, and yet he still wanted Simon to be one of his followers. The other thing Jesus saw in Simon was who he could become. Jesus changed his name to Cephas (Aramaic) or Peter (Greek). This name means “rock.” Jesus saw the potential in this man, and I believe Jesus sees potential in us, as well.

Jesus also saw something in Nathaniel. Philip was not far past Andrew in the evangelism category. He immediately went out, found Nathaniel and brought him to Christ. Jesus told Nathaniel he saw him studying under the tree. This would not have meant much to us, but in their day and time, it was a euphemism for someone who was studying God’s word. Nathaniel took this as almost prophetic and immediately began to place his faith in Christ. And, probably with a wink, Jesus tells Nathaniel he soon will see even greater things.

Clear vision

With all this seeing going on, does it not make you wonder if we are missing something in our day and time? Maybe there is a lot going on around us all the time, and we need to open our spiritual eyes and begin to look at what God is doing.

2 Kings 6 is a great encouragement for us in this regard. Elisha was in the midst of a major battle, but his faith was strong. His servant was not fairing quite as well in that moment of testing. The difference was that Elisha could see something no one else could. Verse 17 tells us: “And Elisha prayed, ‘Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.’ Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.”

God was providing for their needs, but until the servant recognized the truth, his faith was pretty weak. It is amazing how strong we can be when we see things the way God wants us to see them.

Certainly, we need to see and know God always is at work around us. Sometimes, it is for our protection. At other times, there may be someone around who needs to be introduced to our friend Jesus Christ. Maybe there is some work God wants to do in our hearts or perhaps a work he wants to do through us.

Again, maybe it’s time to get our spiritual eyes checked. Let’s pray God will open our eyes this week to his activity going on all around us.

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