Wednesday, May 05, 2021

Faithful and True

Nobody likes being told they are wrong. It’s hard on our pride. For this reason, we may behave very badly in the process of being corrected. But if you’ve ever stumbled around in the dark, looking for answers and living with the painful consequences of your own mistakes, then you may have come to appreciate the value of a faithful and true witness; one who risks your anger and hostility to tell you the real story about yourself; one who cares enough to get involved when others would simply keep quiet, go about their business and let you continue in your misery. Faithful and true witnesses are rare and precious.

And if you have ever told the truth in front of hostile men and women who don’t want to hear it, then you know the cost of faithfulness and truth in giving testimony.

It is required of stewards that they be found faithful. When someone is entrusted with a set of responsibilities, he may either discharge them in a way that pleases the one who so entrusted him, or else in a way that causes his master to call for his dismissal and reject any association with him. When someone is entrusted with the truth, he may either hide his light or let it be seen by all.

So what does it mean that Jesus is the faithful and true witness? Let me suggest a few possibilities.

The Faithful Witness

A witness is not merely someone who sees or hears events passively, but someone who reports what he has seen and heard. Jesus faithfully reported everything he had seen and every word entrusted to him:

  • He was faithful to his Father in testimony. “I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do ... I have manifested your name.” “I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father.” “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise.”
  • He was faithful to his disciples in testimony. “I have given them the words that you gave me.” “The one who has bathed [in the Word] does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you are clean, but not every one of you.” “Not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction.”
  • He was faithful to the world in testimony. “I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment — what to say and what to speak. And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me.” “And Jesus said, ‘I am, and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.’ ” The high priest tore his garments and called his testimony blasphemy, but the officers sent to arrest him said, “No one ever spoke like this man.”
  • He was faithful to the scriptures in testimony. “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” He remained conscious of this objective even on the cross.

The True Witness

The Lord Jesus was a truthful witness. He bore witness to the truth. Indeed, he was truth incarnate. In Greek, the word “true” is alÄ“thinos, which is best understood when contrasted with its opposites:

  • It is the opposite of counterfeit. “My Father gives you the true bread from heaven.” “I am the true vine. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” Jesus could say, “All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them.” They were false shepherds with false gospels. The Lord Jesus was utterly authentic.
  • It is the opposite of imperfect or partially-realized. Compared to the many prophets who had offered hope to the people of God in times past, he was “The true light, which gives light to everyone.” His ministry was not confined to a particular range of subjects but touched on the whole of life. His objective was to bring blessing to the whole world, not just the Jewish people. Where all God’s previous initiatives had been limited in scope, the testimony of Jesus has traveled to the farthest corners of the globe.
  • It is the opposite of a mere appearance. Even his enemies had to admit this: “Teacher, we know that you are true and teach the way of God truthfully, and you do not care about anyone’s opinion, for you are not swayed by appearances.”

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