Name Power

Labeled With Names, Reflecting Animals

Ed, my old neighbor in Saskatchewan, calls some folks by animal names. For example, he might depict specific individuals as a turkey, a dumb bunny, a scaredy-cat, a pit bull, a bird brain, bull-headed, and a particular nephew as a pig at the dinner table. These names are common but judgemental and hurtful. Ed only offers these words when those defined by them are absent. He uses them as common expressions, but they do hurt the reputation of those they describe.

How we talk about other people is a choice we often make daily. Hopefully, most folks honor the commandment, “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.” Often, we slander another person by labeling them negatively as a bird brain or with other animal names. Sometimes we treat pets better than we treat other people by the way we demean people. Saying good words about others may make people suspicious of your motives. We may be speechless when it comes to sharing how excellent Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, is outside of a church service.

Not so the case with John the Baptist in the Bible, as he was a great advocate of Jesus, who he saw as ranking above himself as the Son of God. John the Baptist preached in the Desert of Judea. He saw himself as preparing the way for the Lord. So he called the people to repent, for the kingdom of heaven was near.

People went out to John from Jerusalem, Judea, and the whole region of Jordan. They confessed their sins to John and were baptized by him in the Jordan River. (Bible Reference: Matthew 3:1-6) Jesus also came to John to be baptized by John.

John told the religious authorities from Jerusalem that he was not the Christ, Elijah, or the Prophet. John explained he was one sent to prepare the way for the Christ. The reason John came baptizing with water was so that he could reveal the Christ among the people. (John 1:31)

John gave this testimony about Jesus concerning Jesus’ baptism by John. “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on Jesus. I would not have known him, except that the one who sent me to baptize with water told me that the man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is who will baptize with the Holy Spirit. I have seen, and I testify, that this is the Son of God.” (John 1:32-34)

The day after John baptized Jesus, John saw Jesus coming toward him and said to those with him, “Look the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world.” To call Jesus a lamb would have people think of a lamb used in sacrifices at the temple daily, and also the first Passover lambs with their blood marking the doorways of the houses of God’s people, saving them from a visit by the angel of death. Many expected the Christ or Messiah to be a military leader or warrior, not harmless like a lamb. Most were not as interested in their sins being taken away as the Romans rulers being taken away by the Messiah. They were reluctant to receive the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.

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