Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Have you reached a verdict?

‘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

It had been a long and difficult court case. The time had come, though, for the verdict. The evidence had been presented; the testimony of eye-witnesses heard, and arguments for and against presented by both sides. No stone was left unturned and all witnesses were questioned. Now, the jury must reveal its decision. Twelve previously unconnected individuals, now united around a common purpose, filed back into their allocated seat in the courtroom. 

“Members of the jury. Have you reached a verdict?”

This scene, familiar to many of us only because of TV shows such as Law & Order, is reminiscent of the conclusion to John’s gospel. Like a lawyer compiling a case in order to persuade the jury in favour of his client, John has presented ample evidence in order to convince his audience that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing in him they may have life in his name. The testimony of witnesses like John the Baptist (1:19-28); signs of Jesus’ divinity including the healing of an official’s son (4:46-54), the feeding of 5000 people (6:1-15); and even the raising of a dead man back to life (11:1-44) has all been convincing. The most compelling evidence of all, though, is found in chapter 20; the resurrection of the man under scrutiny; Jesus Christ. The eye-witness testimony of Mary Magdalene, Simon Peter and the beloved disciple has all been presented. Then, just in case the decision still hangs in the balance, the most shocking evidence of all. Thomas, a sceptic, a questioner, and one who remains unconvinced by the eye-witness testimony of his fellow disciples, demands more evidence. In many ways he represents all the potential “fence-sitters” in John’s audience. In order to convince him he is invited by the risen Jesus to touch the very places where his body has been scared as a result of the crucifixion. 

His decision is made. 

He believes. 

He confesses 

‘My Lord and my God!”

For John’s audience more evidence will be provided. Even though much more could be presented, so much so that the world could not contain all the books (21:25); yet, now is the time for a verdict. Now is the time to decide. There is no escaping the task at hand. A decision must be made.

Do you believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name?

“Members of the jury. Have you reached a verdict?”

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