By Randall A. Bach
Life can be complicated. Our schedules are full. Our globe is at war. Our culture is in disarray. Gas, food, and other necessities have escalated in price at a dizzying pace. Major metropolitan areas have turned into tent cities filled with homeless people, many of whom are afflicted with addictions. Our politics are savagely polarized. People drift between personal and church relationships. And then there is COVID. We have been witnessing the unfolding of what is consistent with Scripture, and we are exhorted, “Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near” (Luke 21:28, ESV).
Some Greeks who had come to Jerusalem for the Passover celebration paid a visit to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee. They said, “Sir, we want to meet Jesus”(John 12:20-21, NLT).
The tenor and complexity of our time can cause us to view everything as inordinately complex and difficult, including sharing our faith with others. There are so many issues, so many questions that can be raised that are too difficult to answer. “Why would God allow…?” Or “I believe there are several ways to God. Why do you think yours is the only way?” Sigh. Does witnessing have to be about debate?
As I was praying about these matters, I came across John 12:20-21, and the simplicity of it struck me as being powerful yet elusive if we fail to settle into its proclamation: “Sir, we want to meet Jesus.” We believe and have proclaimed it for so many years until it can sound like a cliché; however, it has never been more meaningful: Jesus is the answer! People need to meet Jesus! He reaches to and beyond every circumstance.
Consider how Jesus handled so many situations and people. He responded to the centurion’s sick servant and to the Canaanite woman with a sick daughter. The centurion and Canaanite woman came from radically different echelons of society and culture, but both needed Jesus, and Jesus miraculously ministered to the needs of both. He reached out with the kind of remote execution of authority that fit the centurion’s world and also responded as appropriate to the nuisance-like pleading of the girl’s mother. He reached beyond the protective barrier His disciples wanted to erect to protect Him from the woman’s pleas. Jesus reached beyond the barrier of highly placed authority when He addressed Pilate, who could ultimately find no wrong in Him despite what the hordes clamored to hear. Jesus heard the voices of the ten lepers who called out loudly from a distance, “Jesus, have pity on us!” He reached beyond the barrier of ethnicity and cultural ostracism to heal those lepers, only one of whom returned to give thanks. And Jesus lovingly but firmly confronted the sinful Samaritan woman at the well. The way He deftly bore in and sidestepped the diversions she tried to conversationally employ was a textbook classic. Jesus reached beyond the barrier of deep sin and a communicative dodge to speak to the woman’s deepest need.
With all the complexities that surround us, how refreshing it is to come back to basics. Even though there truly are many complex questions for which we do not have answers, those issues are not our priority. People need Jesus. He is the one who will reach beyond arguments and barriers to touch hearts. Our job is not to win arguments. We are not commanded to have all the answers to all the questions. We are to present a relationship with Jesus, who can forgive our sins, minister to conflicted minds, heal broken relationships, and give a peace that defies understanding even beyond answers to arguments. More than just presenting Him, we must allow Jesus to work through us to share about relationship with and meaning through Him. That day in Jerusalem, some Greeks (who were often the intellectuals of the day) did not need a winning or conquering argument. They stated their need simply: “We want to meet Jesus.”
We are responsible for introductions, for helping people to see Jesus as someone who can deal with the seemingly unanswerable questions and complexities of life. We do not have to be winning debaters, professors, or miracle workers. Let’s help people see Jesus!