Jesus knows he’s going to leave the disciples soon. How does he prepare them to continue on in the kingdom work without him in this prayer in John 17:1-19?
September 2, 2020 by Bob Whitaker
Do you ever feel inadequate when it comes to sharing your faith? Sometimes certain people, whether friends, family or strangers might have questions about your faith that seem difficult to answer. Sometimes in an attempt to have the “right answer” we study arguments for the reasonableness of our faith. There is nothing wrong with seeking answers for hard questions that come from critics. In fact, I have spent a good bit of my life attempting to understand and “defend the faith” against critics who believe it is irrational. There is real value in preparing to answer difficult questions, but well-reasoned answers for the critic is often not as important as an individual life that testifies to faith.
In the ninth chapter of John’s gospel, we read a story about a man who was born blind but was miraculously healed by Jesus. Those who were critics of Jesus heard of the miracle and quizzed the formerly blind man with many questions. “Who is he? What did he say? He healed you on the Sabbath, correct? You know that it is unlawful to heal on the Sabbath, right? What is your opinion of this man who healed you? Do you think the man who healed you is a sinner?” The man who had been healed by Jesus was bewildered by their questions and no doubt felt trapped by their interrogation. As he tried to answer their questions they became angry. They even accused him of lecturing them which outraged them because he did not have their level of education. Finally, exasperated by their questions he said to them, “Look, I can’t answer all your questions but I know this: I was blind and now I can see.”
This story can be an encouragement for all of us who want to share our faith but feel inadequate to answer the tough questions. First, we will never have all the answers. Second, even if we had all the answers it would not be enough for some people. In other words, don’t be overwhelmed by the questions and don’t feel the burden of trying to answer all the objections. I will never forget the advice my father gave me when I first started to preach. He said to me, “Son there are going to be times when your tongue gets tied, when the words don’t come out right and when you feel like you don’t have the answers. When that happens just stop and tell your story.” He then reminded me how often the Apostle Paul gave his testimony about being blinded by the light of God on the road to Damascus. Paul is best remembered for the powerful words in the epistles that he wrote, letters which are read by people every day all around the world. Sometimes his words are difficult and hard to understand; even the Apostle Peter said that about Paul’s words. However, we should not forget that the inspired words of his epistles emerge from a story. His story is simple. One day he encountered Jesus and his life changed forever.
You may never be a great orator. When asked difficult questions, you may feel that your tongue is tied and your mind is frozen, but don’t be discouraged. Don’t worry about having all the answers. Don’t be concerned that your evangelistic methods are not perfect. Instead, tell your story. Tell the story about how Jesus changed your life. Make the words of the blind man your own words: Once I was blind but now I can see. This is my story…
Forgiveness is not easy, especially when the offense is large. However, the alternative is worse – holding a grudge. When we make a deliberate and sometimes painful choice to forgive, there is a weight that is lifted from our hearts. Let’s think about the nature of forgiveness.
A look at who we are as a “household of faith.”
John 15:1-15. Jesus says, “I am the vine and you are the branches…No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine.” Let’s explore the image of the vine as it relates to the church.
From John 1:1-18. John begins his story of Jesus in a way unlike the other gospel writers–not at Jesus’ human birth but before time. As John tells us, the Word has no beginning and has no end–the Word is eternally God. The implications for this are massive. It sets the Christian religion apart from every other and has very practical consequences.