Each Thursday, I will attempt to share with you the results of my conversations with Ammon and Idaho Falls neighbors over questions that I ask from the book of John. For some of you just beginning to lurk on this website, I will reintroduce myself. My name is Todd Wood, pastor of Berean Baptist Church in Idaho Falls. I have lived in this great town for most of my life; and I have a passion to go beyond the superficial, religious conversations that take place and really engage with all my LDS friends on biblical heart issues. With the introduction to each new verse, I hunger to discuss the interpretation, the application, and the relevance for godly, righteous living in 2006.
On Sunday mornings, our church family has been studying John’s Gospel, verse by verse. It dawned on me that I could use this internet blog as a tool on Thursdays to cast out John’s words to more of the community and to let you peer into the thoughts of an evangelical pastor. But let me emphasize to you that when my thoughts don’t match up with the biblical text, just throw them out. The purpose of the website is not to sell you some new church program or innovative idea. My sincere desire is to look at the revelation of God through John’s Gospel and to humbly evaluate how this fits within the large LDS cultural bubble wherein I live. Does this sound like fun?
The content of my Thursday blog entries swirl around questions that I have been asking door to door in the neighborhood. For many homes, I do not find anyone at home, so I just leave at the door a booklet of John & Romans with my website business card stapled to the front cover. If you are in this category, though I had not the chance to meet you, I heartily welcome you to linger for a moment with me, to explore the first two entries posted on this website for more of an introduction to me, and to pose any question or comment that comes to your mind.
During this past, blistery cold Monday, I spent time chatting with neighbors at fifteen homes asking only two questions.
After reading John 1:38, “Then Jesus turned, and saw them following, and saith unto them, What seek ye? They said unto him, Rabbi, (which is to say, being interpreted, Master,) where dwellest thou?” I asked each neighbor question number 1: “Do you believe that Jesus is more than just a Rabbi?”
Secondly, tracing my way through the paragraph, I would come to verse 41, “He first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ.” After reading this verse, I would stop, look up at my neighbor and politely share question number 2, “What do you think Messias or the Christ means?” Understandably, this inquiry brought a little more contemplation before an answer.
Among people in 16 homes that I personally spoke to, six were non-LDS (No active faith – 2, Catholic – 1, Episcopalian – 1, Methodist – 1, and Calvary Chapel – 1). The two individuals of “no active faith” were not interested in answering any questions on the Bible about Jesus, and surprisingly neither was the Episcopalian. The Methodist was a female senior citizen, expecting medical care to arrive shortly for her husband, so I just talked briefly with no questions of my own and mentioned I would pray for their family. The Catholic answered yes to the first question and “I don’t know” to the second. And finally, when the evangelical invited me inside his home, he immediately identified himself as “a born again Christian” who awhile back “in Illinois had been excommunicated from the Mormon Church because of his new faith in the Lord.” (He told me he still has the letter after all these years.) He answered “Absolutely” to the first question and “Son of God” to the second. After a warm talk and a hearty handshake from this senior gentleman, I plunged back outside into the winter air.
The other nine homes were LDS, and let me emphasize to you—all of them exemplified warm courtesy at the door. One mentioned she had no time because of her abbreviated lunch break. Another young husband invited me to come back after explaining he had to take off. So that leaves us with the remaining eight LDS responses to my questions.
All of them except one (didn’t know) said yes to my first question, many of them without even a hesitation.
And here is a breakdown of how they defined “Messias” or the translation for Greek readers, “the Christ,” when I asked my second question.
“Peacemaker” – 1
“One & only,” “Pure Love” – 1
“Savior of all Mankind” – 2
“Taking away sins” – 1
“God” – 1
“Son of God” – 1
“Chosen One” – 1
I really enjoyed talking with everyone on this particular afternoon. One house was having a mothers/princess daughters’ tea party. You should have seen all the little princesses fixed up with soft curls and satin dresses. In another home, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir filled the living room with the most exalting hymns. Knowing these particular words and listening to the massive vocal melodies and harmonies, I felt I was being translated right to heaven.
But getting back to the question of what Messiah means, the ancient King James Translators have the answer right in the margin next to John 1:41, “the Christ: or, the Anointed.” Christos is taken from the Greek verb, chrio, meaning to anoint.
There were anointed individuals in the Old Testament—kings, priests, and even prophets (well, this last reference is more in the context of patriarchs, Ps. 105:15). But the Scripture definitely makes clear that kings and priests were anointed. In the O.T., prophets anointed kings with oil. The anointing symbolized men being endued by God with the necessary ability to carry out their public, official tasks before the people.
But where men anointed men with oil in the O.T., God the Father anointed His Son, Jesus, with the Spirit (Acts 10:38). This grand event opened the eyes of John the Baptist at Jesus’ water baptism in the Jordan (John 1).
Jesus is the Christ, the Anointed, par excellence. He is Isaiah’s Servant of the LORD, the absolutely unique triumvirate of prophet, priest, and king. In John 1:41, Andrew, the Jew, found gold, yelling eureka to his brother!
But do Gentiles like you and me need a Jewish Messiah? Most assuredly. First, do you need “that Prophet” (John 1:21), who is the final Word (John 1:1) from heaven? With all the various religious ideas floating around, I need a perfect Prophet. Secondly, does your sinful, guilt-ridden heart call for a High Priest, the ultimate sin-bearer? Look to the unblemished Lamb of God (John 1:29). His vicarious atonement is sufficient, preparing you for a life of good works. Thirdly, are you weary of placing trust in fallible political leaders? Jesus is the “King of Israel,” triumphantly reigning over all. What earthly human king will ever compare in substance to the LORD’s anointed in Psalms 2? Don’t be desirous of your own future kingdom but “Kiss the Son.” He is the King of kings.