No leap in the dark
Is Christian faith a leap in the dark? Is faith what you have when reason runs out?
The Bible says no. There is every reason to become a Christian.
Towards the end of John’s Gospel come these words:
Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. (John 20:30-31, NIV)
In this vital pair of sentences, John, an eye-witness of Jesus (see last week’s blog), explains why he has written his gospel. He is providing the evidence that will lead to Christian belief. He expects his readers to come to faith as a result of evidence, rather than in spite of it.
John has some favourite words, which keep coming in his gospel: testimony comes 16 times; witness comes 29 times; the word group see / sees / seen / saw comes 106 times. These are words we would expect in the context of a court of law: they suggest that John is presenting a reasoned case. And so he is. Twice (once at the beginning, 1:14, and once at the end, 21:24) he insists he was an eyewitness of the events he records.
John tells us of seven great signs that Jesus did: turning water into wine, healing the sick son of a nobleman at a distance, de-paralysing a man who’d been flat on his back for 38 years, feeding 5,000 with a few loaves and fishes, walking on the water to help his disciples in rough seas, giving sight to a man born blind and then raising Lazarus from the dead. He wants us to see that the Creator of the world has come down to earth. Finally, he records Jesus’ own resurrection from the dead.
John records people’s amazement and questions — the neighbours of the ex-blind man in chapter 9 and “doubting” Thomas in chapter 20. He will not let us say, “people in those days lived in a pre-scientific age and believed that sort of thing.” But none of these are just stunts. The miracles are all pictures of what Jesus came to do — and does (and John explains that significance). Moreover, John fits it all into a bigger picture: if the miracles point to who Jesus is, John also explains why Jesus came: to die for us, bearing our sins, that we might be forgiven and know God personally. Finally, we should add that John also explains why, if the evidence is so good, everyone doesn’t believe.
So, if John wrote his gospel to make a case for Christ, that is how we should use it. If we are investigating Christianity, read it! And in helping others to discover Christ, we can do no better than to read through it with them. Or, come along to St Andrew the Great on Sunday mornings at 10.00 or 11.30, where we’re reading through John 9-11.
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