There’s a passage in John’s Gospel, (Chapter 5 verses 31 – 47) where Jesus explains reasons for people to people in him. Here they are:
1 John the Baptist. John came with a message of truth, and an important part of that message pointed to Jesus.
2 The works that Jesus was doing. Even more than John’s witness, the works that Jesus was doing were evidence.
3 God the Father. The Father also gives witness to Jesus, but where minds are closed, and there is a refusal to believe, it is impossible to hear his voice.
4 The Scriptures. Openness to hear the truths contained in the written word leads to a revelation of the ‘Living Word’ (Jesus)
So, the question is – why do I believe in Jesus ?
- The people who, like John the Baptist, showed me Jesus.
My Sunday School teacher, Jim Gravett. Jim was also a teacher at my secondary school, so I saw his faith lived out in the work setting as well as at church. I remember outings that we went on a children – sometimes a walk in the Sussex countryside, after which we would all go back to Jim’s house where he and his wife would cook us something like beans on toast. Simple hospitality that I remember from 50+ years ago. Jim kept a range of animals at the bottom of the garden and we were captivated by watching his ferrets run around the garden. Jim kept chickens at school as well, and would take the left over communion bread and feed it to the hens. An earthy, simple faith.
Bob and Julie Phipps, who attended our church, and experienced several bereavements – losing a son in a road accident and another son as well – I can’t remember the circumstances. Yet they were the most alive and faith filled couple I knew. They talked about their faith with enthusiasm; they believed that God answered prayer, and had a long string of faith stories to prove it.
My parents, who brought me up in a relaxed way that allowed me to take things at my pace, and never forced things on me.
My uncle Hugh and Aunty Mary. Hugh would look for opportunities to have a one to one with his nephews and nieces and would be sure to ask us how things were between us and God. They were both so generous with their home, having an open table on a Sunday lunch time for anyone to join the family. I spent so many Sundays with them when I was a student, enjoying the food and the company.
Gareth Bolton, a primary school teacher who would spend every holiday working with a Christian mission agency. His faith in action was inspiring. His charity, AMEN, is now supporting thousands of small communities around the world.
David and Dorothy Bond; David was the vicar of St James Church in Selby, North Yorkshire, and set for me an example of Christian leadership. A gentle, humble man, with a passionate faith. Together David and Dorothy modelled hospitality and welcomed us into the church and into their lives.
- The works of God/Jesus that I have seen in my own life and in the lives of others. Christians who have lived a life of faith, whilst experiencing great suffering and difficulty. Answers to prayers that have sometimes been ‘yes’, sometimes ‘no,’ and sometimes ‘not now.’
- God. Always trying to live with an openness to what God is doing in me and around me. A sense of God’s care – what the Old Testament calls ‘steadfast love and faithfulness.’
- The Scriptures. So many times God has spoken to me through something in scripture. I wish I had written them all down, because my memory lets me down. I will read a passage, or a verse, and it will immediately connect with something that I am asking, or something I am about to do. I have heard it called serendipity, but for me it is God at work, and it happens so often that I couldn’t explain it away.
Here’s the passage – John 5:31-47
Witnesses to Jesus
31 If I speak for myself, there is no way to prove I am telling the truth. 32 But there is someone else who speaks for me, and I know what he says is true. 33 You sent messengers to John, and he told them the truth. 34 I don’t depend on what people say about me, but I tell you these things so that you may be saved. 35 John was a lamp that gave a lot of light, and you were glad to enjoy his light for a while.
36 But something more important than John speaks for me. I mean the things that the Father has given me to do! All of these speak for me and prove that the Father sent me.
37 The Father who sent me also speaks for me, but you have never heard his voice or seen him face to face. 38 You have not believed his message, because you refused to have faith in the one he sent.
39 You search the Scriptures, because you think you will find eternal life in them. The Scriptures tell about me, 40 but you refuse to come to me for eternal life.
41 I don’t care about human praise, 42 but I do know that none of you love God. 43 I have come with my Father’s authority, and you have not welcomed me. But you will welcome people who come on their own. 44 How could you possibly believe? You like to have your friends praise you, and you don’t care about praise that the only God can give!
45 Don’t think that I will be the one to accuse you to the Father. You have put your hope in Moses, yet he is the very one who will accuse you. 46 Moses wrote about me, and if you had believed Moses, you would have believed me. 47 But if you don’t believe what Moses wrote, how can you believe what I say?