The situation is bleak. The religious leaders refuse to believe Jesus. Even after such rock-solid witnesses, four of them, which you can read about here, here and here, who each give powerful testimony about Jesus, most of the religious leaders are not convinced, and they leave plotting how to take him down.
What about us? How will we respond to Jesus’ witnesses? It seems to me that there are two common responses to the evidence Jesus presents in his trial.
One response is to say, along with the religious leaders, “Nope. I don’t believe. You haven’t convinced me.” There are plenty of people who, if they believe the stories in the Bible are true, might say Jesus was an amazing person. But to believe that Jesus was God, the Messiah, Savior of the World? No. That’s a stretch too far in their minds.
Another response is to say, along with many of the crowd that day, “I believe! Do another miracle, Jesus. Let me take you to visit my cousin’s wife’s sister’s mother-in-law. She isn’t feeling well.” Plenty of people believe in Jesus intellectually, hoping they will get something for their belief. The most common idea among evangelicals is, “Believe, so that you can go to heaven when you die.” That’s belief so that you can have some kind of inner peace about the afterlife. No doubt, Jesus offers us eternal life. So often, though, our believe is mostly motivated by what we get out of it.
But there is a third response that is so much more. In the end, the disciples and some of Jesus’ other followers responded this way. That is faith that gives up one’s life to follow Jesus’s way of life. It is self-sacrificial.
Some people bounce between the second and third response. We believe, but we can struggle to give our lives fully to serve Jesus in our day to day choices. I can struggle with this too. God doesn’t want us to be radicals, does he? Or so we think. I will admit that I am nervous about going on a mission trip in March. I don’t know if it is radical or not. But it feels like it, as I will be gone for a month. I’m not saying that you need to be a missionary or pastor or even to do something outwardly that seems like a big step. It doesn’t have to be a change of vocation.
It could be an inward step. It could be the step of choosing to forgive. It could be choosing to believe that God will take care of you. It could be choosing to release being controlling of people, of situations. It could be choosing to not have the last word. You can release your anger to God. Sometimes a step of faith is choosing to be vulnerable, to get help, including professional help.
God wants more room in our hearts and minds because the more he is in those vital, deep inner places, the more you and I can experience the abundant life he wants to give us. That means we choose to get rid of what is in the way. It means a vulnerability to place our faith and trust in God.
Each of us needs to examine our lives, then invite others to examine our lives, to face the possibility that we are apathetic or shallow in our faith, in our discipleship.
The evidence is strong. Jesus is who he said he was, and that invites a response from us to give our lives to him, in gratitude that he first gave his life for us.
Photo by Sammie Chaffin on Unsplash