A Reliable Witness
There was some real good news this last week . . . . some researchers are suggesting that chocolate may help prevent heart disease . . . in fact the combination of moderate consumption of chocolate and red wine are especially effective. Of course, that’s one group of experts opinion.
There are studies that tell us that sugar is bad for us . . . . others that sugar substitutes are worse for us.
Some tell us coffee is not so bad . . . others say it is.
WHO DO YOU BELIEVE?
You can’t watch a news broadcast without hearing about some kind of trial. It may be O.J.’s civil trial, it may be Travelgate, Whitewater, or a local criminal trial. Experts are paraded before the court to testify about the facts and the competency of the defendant. The problem is they don’t agree. The experts defense witnesses tell us that the defendant was not responsible. The expert Prosecution witnesses tell us that the defendant was most surely responsible. Can anyone really blame us for becoming cynical? Does truth really depend on who’s paying the bill?
WHO DO YOU BELIEVE?
You listen to many voices saying they have the way to God . . .they’ve seen a vision, they’ve discovered a formula, they have the approach needed to know God better. However, these people conflict with each other.
WHO DO YOU BELIEVE?
This must have been much like the climate that existed in John chapter 8. Jesus testifies that He is the Light of the World. He tells them that He is sent by God. In essence He claims to be the long-promised Messiah. If you look at it from the perspective of those people are we really surprised that they were a little hesitant to believe? After all…..it was as if I were to say….this man over here is God . . . How do you know? Because He told me he was. We would think that was gullibility to the highest degree.
It is certain that these folks were obstinate but their question is still the most important one in life: So why should we believe Jesus?
Why Jesus Should be Trusted
Because He Was Serving God and not Himself
If someone came up to you and said, “I am an excellent musician. I sing well and can really play the trumpet.” how would you respond? Probably you would think, “I bet”. You would be unconvinced until you had heard that person sing or play. Why? Because you have heard others who said they were good . . . and they weren’t.
This illustrates a common trait of humankind, we distort the facts for our benefit. We exaggerate the good to make us look even better. We color over the bad to make us look less culpable. We will lie to cover our wrongs. We will do whatever it takes to get the outcomes we desire.
Since this is the way we are we tend to assume that others are this way as well. Jesus confronts this notion with His words: “These claims are valid, even though I make them about myself.” (8:14). In other words, just because other people lie, don’t conclude that I am incapable of telling the truth simply because I talk of myself.
But Jesus goes beyond this. In verse 28 he says, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man on the cross, they you will realize that I am he and that I do nothing on my own, but I speak what my Father taught me . . “
I believe Jesus is telling us that at His death we will look back and realize that He was telling us the truth. Why? Because His life will be consistent with His testimony. The person who claims to be a good singer and does sing well is shown to be a credible witness. The Savior who says He comes to glorify the Father, and does, is shown to be a truthful witness.
He Presents Clear Truth not Speculative Theories
Certainly one of the most difficult times in life is that moment when you are asked to “declare a major”. At that moment you have to make a decision as to what direction your life will take. It’s scarey. Most of us don’t know what we are called to do. . . what we are called to be. Consequently we are “stabbing in the dark”.
Jesus was different, He said, “I know where I came from and where I am going, but you don’t know about me.”(v. 14) By looking at verses 14, 21, and 27 you can see that Jesus knew that He came to give His life. He knew He was going to die and He knew why. Jesus was clear as to His purpose and His destiny. He came to draw mankind to the Father.
Jesus also said, “You judge me with all your human limitations, but I am not judging anyone.”(V.15). Jesus knew that we cannot make valid judgements because we don’t know all the facts. We don’t know what was intended or what the result of actions will be. We also don’t know if a person is serving God of themselves in the things they do. Consequently we are left with faulty judgment. That’s why Jesus has already showed us that we should leave the judgment to the Lord.
Jesus is not judging anyone because that is not what He was called to do while He was here on earth. (Though there is coming a day when He will exercise that role). Jesus knew what the Father wanted Him to do and He did it.
We can only give hypotheses that will change as more information comes to light. We can give theories but only Jesus can see clear enough to tell the truth!
He has Corroborating Testimony
Jesus reminds us that He is not testifying to His nature in isolation. The Father has also testified on His behalf at His baptism. Remember? The voice came from heaven saying, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
Subsequent to this conversation the Father will also testify at the transfiguration of Jesus. And who can deny that the resurrection was a powerful testimony of the validity of Jesus’ claim to be the Son of God, the Redeemer of men.?
If we needed additional witnesses (and we don’t because God does not lie), we could call on some of the Demons who said, “What do you want with us Jesus, Son of the Most High?” Or we could call to the stand those who were healed, transformed, made knew.
The Implications of Believing the Testimony of Jesus
When OJ Simpson was declared innocent of murder the implication was that he would be set free. He could never be charged for that crime again. He must have all his rights returned to him. There are consequences to the decisions we make. That is certainly true with Jesus.
Those who do not exalt Christ are not friends of the True and Living God
Jesus makes it plain, “Since you don’t know who I am, you don’t now who my Father is. If you knew me, then you would know my Father, too.”
These are hard words for people to accept but it is a necessary consequence if Jesus is the only way to forgiveness (as He will soon claim). Anyone who rejects Jesus as God in human form who came to give His life for the redemption of those who would believe, is godless.
Yes, those who are devout and religious but reject Christ may be sincere but they are sincerely misguided.
The best way to evaluate the validity of a religion is to find out what place Christ holds. Is He a figurehead that is talked about but ignored? Then that group does not know the Father. Is Jesus lowered to the post of a man like the rest of us but who achieved great things? Then these people know not the Father. Is He dismissed as one of the many prophets who have spoken for God? Then that group is godless.
There are only two real destinies
Jesus says, “You are from the world, I am not. That is why I said that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am who I say I am, you will die in your sins.”(v.23,24) He alludes to one possibility: We could die in our sins. This would mean facing a God of wrath, judgement, and eternal punishment.
The other possibility is implied, we could die forgiven of our sins. This would mean an eternal relationship of blessing with God. We would not be enemies but reconciled friends.
There is only one way to forgiveness and Heaven
Jesus tells us that we must “believe that He is who He says He is.” We must believe that He is God in the flesh. We must believe that His death is sufficient for our salvation. We must believe that He is willing to save us.
But true belief is not only the claim of forgiveness through the cross. True belief recognizes that Jesus is the Lord and involves not just entrusting ourselves for salvation. . . it also involves a bending of the heart to His Lordship.
As a jury considers the claims of a witness . . . . we must decide on the claims of Christ.
If He is Lord . . . we must bend our will to His
If He is Not . . . . we are wasting our time
There is NO middle ground
If you are still resisting making a decision about your relationship to Jesus, it’s time to get off the fence.
But this is not just a message to the unsaved . . . it is also a message to those of us who have declared Him our Savior and Lord. Consider the implications of your decision . . . .
1. IF HE IS LORD WE HAVE NO REASON TO FRET ABOUT OUR FUTURE for He has promised He will supply all our needs, He will direct our path, He will never leave us or forsake us. We are called to “trust in the Lord with ALL our heart”. That includes those things that keep you awake nights, those fears that rob you of joy, that pain that weighs down your heart. It doesn’t matter how things look . . . God is in control and He will lead us in the way that is best for us.
2. IF HE IS LORD THEN HIS WAY IS THE ONLY RIGHT WAY. There is no need for vacillation. His directions are right for they are based on eternal truth and everlasting love
- No question that it is wrong to marry a non-believer
- No question that it is wrong to be involved in immoral behavior
- No question that we are wrong to “write anyone off” no matter what they have done
- No question that we are to extend forgiveness and seek reconciliation
- No question but that we are to keep gossip far from our lips
- No question that we are be a regular part of a worshiping community
- No question that we are to honor the Lord with the first fruits of what we receive
- No question that we should serve the Lord with gladness . . . no matter what others do
- No need to “weigh options” . . . . when He has spoken clearly the task is also clear. . . DO WHAT IS RIGHT.
- If you are facing a decision God has spoken clearly on . . . get off the fence and DO THE RIGHT THING
3. IF JESUS IS LORD THERE IS NO REASON TO BELIEVE THAT WE ARE WORTHLESS. He gave His life as payment for our sin. He has given us His Spirit as a guarantee of our inheritance. He calls us His children and has promised us His kingdom. No matter what others say . . . . we know we are loved . . . by Him who’s love is perfect and without wavering.
4. IF JESUS IS LORD THERE IS NO REASON TO BE ANYTHING BUT JOYFUL. He has paid the price for our redemption. Nothing can separate us from His love. No one snatch us from His hand. We have the confidence of Isaiah:
He gives power to those who are tired and worn out; he offers strength to the weak. Even youths will become exhausted, and young men will give up. But those who wait on the Lord will find new strength. They will fly high on wings like eagles. They will walk and not faint.”
And we can proclaim with Habakkuk:
“Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vine; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation. The Sovereign Lord is my strength! He will make me as a surefooted as a deer and bring me safely over the mountains.”
Whatever mountain you face, my friend, rejoice! You will make it for He will make sure of it.
So you see why this is a relevant passage for all of us. Next week it may be shown that chocolate is not good for you. But whether it is good for me or not is not all that important. It doesn’t matter whether they are right or wrong. But whether or not Jesus is telling the truth . . . that makes all the difference in the world.
Remember that this week when you are eat chocolate . . . for your health.