Mike Gerhardt, 11-15-20, John 5:31-47, Heard about Jesus? Have you recently heard any testimonies concerning Jesus? Read John 5:31-35. When it comes to giving testimony on how great you, no one will listen. Don’t blow your own horn! Don’t trumpet your best notes, let someone else play that tune. Humility is not something to brag about. People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. Jesus began by discounting His own witness. Under Jewish law a person’s testimony about himself was not accepted. John 8:14 Even if I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is valid, for I know where I came from and where I am going. So, Jesus spoke about those who testified to who He was and is: the Messiah. John the Baptizer had spoken clearly about being the forerunner of the Messiah. Many listened to John; many followed John. They were baptized and rejoiced to prepare for the coming Kingdom of God and the Messiah. John pointed to Jesus as the Anointed One. John spoke a clear message that he must decrease, and Jesus must increase. Read John 5:36-40. The Father had given Jesus the power to do miraculous works. John recalled seven: water into wine (power over the elements), healing the official’s son (power over distance to heal), the paralytic (power over muscles that have atrophied), feeding 5000 (power to supply the need), walking on water and calming the sea (power over creation), healing blindness (power to create sight), raising Lazarus (power over death). The Father empowered miracles testified to Jesus as Messiah. Our works can testify to our relationship. The late Chuck Colson wrote of being in the Jakarta airport in Indonesia. He & his colleagues were stuck in the hot & steamy terminal, after traveling all night, waiting in a long line trying to get on the next flight out. Chuck said: I was determined not to let my frustration get the better of me. I talked with my friends, we laughed and made the best of it. Two years later he received a letter from Singapore. The man was a follower of Confucius but sent his kids to Sunday School. One Sunday he caught the message where the speaker reference Chuck Colson’s Born Again book which had Chuck’s picture. A few months later he was in the Jakarta airport & recognized Chuck from the book cover. He was so impressed with Chuck’s calm demeanor and cheerfulness that he bought the book, read it, and committed his life to Christ. Remember no matter where you are your works witness to your relationship with Jesus. Jesus mentioned the testimony of the Father’s voice from heaven: at his baptism Luke 3:22 And a voice came from heaven: You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased; at the mount of transfiguration Luke 9:35 A voice came from the cloud, saying, This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him; near the end John 12:27 “Father, glorify your name!” Then a voice came from heaven, I have glorified it, and will glorify it again. Then there is the testimony of the written word of God, the witness of the scriptures. The older testament is filled with scriptures and prophesy concerning the Messiah. These are God the Father’s written testimony concerning God the Son. Read John 5:41-47. Though the Jews had studied, they were spiritually blind to see the truth. Verse 40 they refused to come to the truth; 42 they did not have God’s love in their hearts; 43 they would not accept Jesus; 44 they would rather accept others; they accepted glory and honor from others but did not seek the honor that comes from God; 47 they did not even believe the word of Moses who spoke of the coming of Jesus. They refused to hear the multiple testimonies coming from many different sources. They were blinded to the truth by their arrogance and pride. Sound familiar? To testify to the truth can bring tragic consequences. Those in Christ have be slaughtered around the world for their testimony. It has been calculated that more have died for their faith in the last 120 years than in the 1900 previous years. The word translated testify comes from the Greek word martyron transliterated martyr: a person who voluntary suffers death as the penalty of witnessing to and refusing to renounce a religion or faith; a person who sacrifices something of great value and especially life itself for the sake of truth. Baptism in some cultures in the world can ensure the person will be beaten, punish, and even killed because of their testimony. This is the persecution promised by Jesus for all who testify to his name. We may be hassled at work or school, or even ostracized for our faith in our neighborhood. This is one level of persecution. I believe there may be the next level of persecution coming soon. Will you stand up for the truth? Will you testify of Jesus who saved you from your sins? Will you be baptized in his name?
I have been in conversation where people refused the truth because they just could not believe, or they just didn’t want to believe. One thing for sure, they could not discount my witness, my testimony to the truth; it is my story, and I will tell it as long as I have breath. I want to finish with a report from
Open Doors on international persecution. A woman in India watches her sister dragged off by Hindu nationalists. A man in a North Korean prison is awaken after being beaten unconscious; the beatings begin again. A pregnant woman in Nigeria has escaped from Boko Haram, who kidnapped her but when she returns home, she & baby will be rejected. A group of children are laughing as they enter the church after eating together. Instantly, many of them are killed by a bomb blast on Easter Sunday in Sri Lanka. These people do not live on the same continent. But they are all Christians, and they suffer because of their faith. From Sudan to Russia to Nigeria to North Korea to India followers of Jesus are targeted for their faith. They are attacked; discriminated against at work and at school; they risk sexual violence, torture, arrest and much more. In just the last year, there have been: Over 260 million Christians living in places where they experience high levels of persecution. 2,983 killed for their faith. 9,488 church buildings attacked. 3,711 believers detained without trial, arrested, sentenced, or imprisoned. These numbers are heart-breaking. James 1:2-4: Consider it pure joy, my brothers, and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. That joy is what our IW’s see when work with Christians all over the world who suffer because they serve Jesus. God cares for His people, and He will never leave or forsake them.