Grace to you!
Our legal defense system is tactically built around witnesses. We want to know: What are the facts? What is the truth? What is the evidence?
People want evidence to believe. They want evidence to prove them right or wrong.
Endorsements do similar functions. They bear witness to the truth of a particular character or personality. Our society craves for reasons why they must take a specific stand. This attitude or should I say the practice is not new. It is ancient.
Who is this man they call Jesus? Is he the Christ? This question had always preoccupied the Jews of Jesus’ time. They heard him speak of himself as equal to God—an abomination in their religion. How would the testimony of Jesus be supported by sources other than himself? They wanted witnesses. They wanted evidence.
We, too, sometimes want witnesses. We want proof. Sometimes in our faith journey, it seems, Jesus' identity as Lord and Savior is questioned. We have heard it in discussions in classrooms, during religious education, preached from pulpits, in the media, and in casual conversations with friends.
But then, we hear other arguments from people who neither believe in Jesus as Christ nor as God. We tend to get confused when they say something like: "Jesus isn't God. He is simply like any other religious founder. You Christians don't know what you are talking about."
In the Old Testament, at least two witnesses were required (cf. Deut 17:6; 19:15). Jesus had to justify he is one with his Father by some evidence other than himself.
Are you ready to hear what evidence he provided? He gave not two or three, as the law required— he gave at least four. This evidence is revealing of his relationship with the Father. If you are open for them to speak to you, your heart will grow in the love of Jesus, whose word is right and true.
Witness 1: The testimony of his Father and the Holy Spirit (see Jn 5:32). I see this in the light of what happened at the River Jordan when the Spirit descended upon him like a dove, and the Father spoke publicly, endorsing him.
Witness 2 is the witness of the ever-respected prophet in Jewish history—John the Baptist. Jesus appealed to this human witness (in verses 36a). Note that John had pointed out to the people that Jesus was the Lamb of God (Jn 1:29).
Witness 3: The miracles that the Lord Jesus performed are his evidence, too (cf Jn 5:35). It was an Old Testament criterion about the Son of Man (the Christ) that he must do miracles. Miracles are signs of divine interventions in the course of nature.
The Lord Jesus performed many miracles by a word, a sign, or a touch. There were at least thirty-seven documented incredible miracles, excluding the countless number of people he healed from diseases within three years of public ministry. This evidence is still real today, as miracles continue to happen in the hearts and homes of believers. I have seen this in my ministry and those of many other Christian Churches and groups across the world. Personal and communities' healing and miracles in the name of Jesus Christ are evidence too of the grace of Jesus Christ as Lord. The Lord lives on. He continues to reveal himself as God and Man, the Christ, in the hearts of those who believe. He continues to do miracles.
Witness 4: Scripture speaks about Jesus as the Christ (see Jn 5:39-40). All Scripture points to Christ Jesus, and the Old Testament prophecies refer to Jesus of Nazareth as the Christ. When we read the Old Testament in the light of Christ, it resounds with proofs, typologies referring back to Jesus of Nazareth. It's in that sense that St. Jerome's word could be read to mean that knowledge of Scripture is knowledge of Christ.
Reflect: What word are you hearing this Lent? Is it the testimony of God, His Spirit, the works of God, and the revealed truth in Scripture or the voice of the world? Where is your evidence about Jesus Christ?
I am praying that your life will be a living witness of grace-inspiring testimonies about the saving work of Christ. Amen.
God love you. God bless you.
[Thursday, Lent, Week 4; Ex 32:7-14; Jn 5:31-47]
Father Maurice Emelu, Ph.D., provides a daily blog of reflections based on the Bible readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth and inspiration. They are designed for a general audience. They may also be helpful for ministers in preparing their sermons.