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The Word they needed to look up

By R.A. Mathews
Special to The Star

The dictionary changes. Did you know this? They add words! 

Recent additions: “Hangry;” “Scrumdiddlyumptious;” “Meh” for not interested; “Twerking” for, well, you can look it up. 

Merriam-Webster says it usually takes a while for a new word to gain popularity and be included. But not always.  “Self-isolate,” “social distancing,” and “Covid-19” made the cut pretty quickly.  Uh, roger that. 

In fact, the 2020 list goes on and on: WFH - Work From Home; contactless; immune surveillance; herd immunity. Wait, what is immune surveillance? 

Growing up, I’d hear, “Look it up, so you’ll remember.”  

This might have been a Merriam-Webster moment, except “immune surveillance?” Am I interested? Meh. 

But there’s one Word in Scripture you must look up. In fact, John the Baptist makes sure his disciples do just that.  

John’s mission was to fulfill a prophecy. John says, “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ as the prophet Isaiah said. John 1:23 

John baptizes our Lord, and as Jesus lifts from the water, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit celebrate as one. 

“The heavens were opened to [Jesus] and [Jesus] saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on Him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.’” Matthew 3:13-17 

Make no mistake, and this is important, John the Baptist also saw it. John 1:32-34 

The next morning, John is with two of his disciples as Jesus passes. John says, “Behold the Lamb of God!”  

All seems to go well between John and Jesus’ disciples. But when Jesus’ ministry takes off, John’s disciples aren’t having it. They were on the mission field first! 

“[John’s disciples] came to John and said, ‘Rabbi, he who was with you across the Jordan to whom you bore witness — look he is baptizing and all are going to him.’” 

John answers them clearly, “I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him … this joy of mine is now complete. He must increase, but I must decrease.’” John 3:26-30 

That should have settled the matter. But, no.  John’s disciples refuse to stand down. The next time you see them in Scripture, they challenge Jesus.  

“The disciples of John came to [Jesus] saying, ‘Why do we … fast, but your disciples do not fast?’” 

Jesus responds with two parables — they can figure it out for themselves. Matthew 9:14-16 

Remember, John is jailed for bad-mouthing Herod, so John isn’t with his disciples. And John must have been frustrated by their ongoing competition with Jesus.  So John sends a message by his disciples to Jesus: “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?”  

Scripture says when John’s disciples arrive, Jesus shows them the power of God. 

“In that hour [Jesus] healed many people of diseases and plagues and evil spirits, and on many who were blind he bestowed sight.” Luke 7:21 

It’s a wow moment. 

Then Jesus says, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard; the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them.” Luke 7:22 

But Jesus isn’t finished. John’s disciples need to hear a final message. 

“And blessed is the one who is not offended by Me.” Matthew 11:2-6, Luke 7:23 

They get it. From then on, there’s no more trouble from these men.  

Covid-19 has brought changes, including a sea of new dictionary words. But there’s only one Word in Scripture you must look up. John made sure his disciples did just that.  

Jesus is the Word. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…” John 1:1 

Perhaps you go to church but don’t know Jesus. Or know Him yet don’t give Jesus His due. Maybe you’re faithful to your Bible study; Scripture will show you wonderful things. But that’s not enough.  

Look up the Word. Talk to Jesus, spend time with Him, watch as He moves in your life — He is your Savior. 

Every day, want Jesus. 

The Rev. Mathews is a faith columnist and the author of “Reaching to God.” Contact her at 

Copyright © 2020 R.A. Mathews. All rights reserved.