Joshua 2:10 (MSG) We heard how God dried up the waters of the Red Sea before you when you left Egypt, and what he did to the two Amorite kings east of the Jordan…
God’s reputation preceded him in Jericho. When Joshua sent two spies to check out Jericho a prostitute named Rahab said, “We heard how God dried up…” God had a reputation in Jericho. The people of Jericho recognized that He was a powerful God even though they had never met Him personally. His reputation was strong enough and believable enough to get Rahab to protect Joshua’s spies and ask them to promise that her family would be spared.
In Jericho, Rahab’s reputation preceded her. She was identified as a prostitute. That is how the people of Jericho knew her.
Jesus’ reputation preceded Him. Everywhere He went people followed Him and surrounded Him looking for a miracle. Word of mouth spread the good news of what happened when you met Jesus.
The blind saw. The lame walked. The sick were healed. Strangers from all over came seeking the One who could heal them.
However, in Nazareth, Jesus’ reputation was a stumbling block for those who knew Him the best. His neighbors argued, “Is not this the carpenter’s son.” (Matt 13:55a) They refused to accept the changes that had taken place in Jesus’ life to make Him Who He was as He stood before them in His hometown.
Does your reputation precede you? Mine did.
I was known as a “Unwed pregnant teenager,” “Alcoholic,” and a “High School Dropout.” Those closest to me identified me by those labels. They became synonymous with my character. When I was born again thirteen years ago those closest to me were some of the last to truly believe that Jesus had changed me completely. When one person found out I was returning to school these words were spoken, “Well, I hope Kirsten finishes school this time.”
My reputation in my hometown was the hardest and the last to change. Those who had known me prior to my knowing Jesus struggled to believe and let go of the me they had once known. I’m so thankful that Jesus understood how much it hurt when they didn’t believe in me. I know that He wept right along side me as I cried out in pain at their unbelief.
Jesus proved them all wrong – His neighbors and mine. When we live our lives for Jesus, He heals us and transforms us into the people He created us to be. He doesn’t care what our reputation was before we met Him. He sees us as we are today, His children. We might not be perfect, but are reputations are new in Him.
No matter what reputation precedes you (e.g. alcoholic, adulterer, bulimic, etc.) Jesus has a new identity for you in Him. Don’t be discouraged if others (even those who are closest to you) aren’t quick to embrace the new you. Jesus will walk beside you through those times, softening their hearts to see the truth. He makes all things new!
PS Now, Rahab’s reputation precedes her as one of the women listed in Jesus’ genealogy.