In the Gospel of John we meet up with Jesus when He is an adult, but the other gospels give us a little bit of insight into Jesus’ upbringing. He was raised by His mother, Mary, and His earthly father, Joseph, along with His brothers and sisters. (Matthew 13:55-56) He was born in Bethlehem but then fled to Egypt because the jealous King Herod wanted Him dead. (Matthew 2:13) When Herod died, Jesus’ family returned to Israel and settled in Nazareth where He was raised as the son of a carpenter. When Jesus was twelve years old, He joined the religious teachers in the Temple and listened and asked questions. Everyone was amazed by His understanding and His answers. (Luke 2:46-49)
Before Jesus began His teaching ministry at about thirty years old, a man called John the Baptist (not the author of this gospel) was on a mission from God to prepare the way. It was John’s mission to point the Jewish people to their Messiah. He traveled throughout the land telling people to repent of their sins and turn to God for forgiveness. When people were tempted to think he was more than just a messenger, John told them about the One who would soon be coming that is much greater than him. John wanted no attention or fame for himself. He only wanted to point people to the One that would save them from their sins.
He said, “I am a voice of one crying out in the wilderness: make straight the way of the Lord – just as Isaiah the prophet said.” – John 1:23 CSB
“I baptize you with water; but someone is coming soon who is greater than I am – so much greater that I’m not even worthy to be His slave and untie the straps of His sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.” – Luke 3:16 NLT
As Christians, we must have the same passion for the gospel and desire to point people to Jesus as John did. In a world where everyone is out to accumulate fans and followers, our message should never be about making ourselves great. We have been called to announce the Savior. We have been called to point people to Jesus. Our powerful testimonies and eloquent words won’t be of any use if people don’t get saved. As John the Baptist would later say… “He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.” (John 3:30)
A couple of important things happened in Jesus’ life before His public ministry began. First, He was baptized by John in order to carry out all that God requires. It was at His baptism that God announced from heaven that Jesus was His Son. (Matthew 3:13-17) Immediately after this, Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil for forty days and nights. (Luke 4:1-13) In Jesus’ humanity, He faced temptation yet He remained obedient. Because of this, He is able to help us when we face our own temptations.
Because He Himself suffered when He was tempted, He is able to help those who are being tempted. – Hebrews 2:18 NIV
Once John the Baptist pointed to Jesus, people began to follow Him. Some of John’s own followers left him and followed Jesus and they wasted no time telling others that they had found the One whom the prophets had spoken about and telling them to come and see for themselves.
“We have found the very person Moses and the prophets wrote about! His name is Jesus, the son of Joseph from Nazareth…Come and see for yourself.” – John 1:45-46 NLT
Today there is a whole world full of people that need Jesus. They need to hear the good news of the gospel. They need to know that God wants to have a personal relationship with them. They need to know that their sins can be forgiven and that they can be made right with God through Jesus.
The disciples believed that Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah before they even understood what that really meant. Even though they did not fully grasp what Jesus would soon accomplish for them and for all of mankind, they still followed Him. Their understanding of who He was and what He came to do grew as they spent time with Him, but it wasn’t fully realized until they watched their Lord be crucified and then saw Him risen from the dead three days later.
We, on the other hand, have full hindsight knowledge of what Jesus did. The Word of God tells us that after He spent three years teaching and ministering to people, Jesus ended up on a cross paying a debt He did not owe. Three days later, He defeated death for us and walked out of a sealed tomb. Jesus paid the price for our sin with His death and broke the power of our sin with His resurrection.
When He died, He died once to break the power of sin. But now that He lives, He lives for the glory of God. So you also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus – Romans 6:10-11 NLT
Seeing what they saw, the disciples left everything to follow Jesus. Knowing what we know, how can we not do the same?