Why Believe in Jesus?
In recent columns I have been reflecting with you on words of Jesus in the fourteenth chapter of John’s gospel. In the beginning of that chapter he said to his disciples that in his Father’s house are “many rooms” or “many mansions.” He said that he was going to prepare a place for them. (He also pointed out that he would not lie about something so important to those whom he loved.) He went on to say that he is “the way, the truth, and the life,” and that “no one comes to the Father except through him.” Then he said that he and the Father “are one,” and he said, “whoever has seen me has seen the Father.”
As I have pointed out in preceding columns, these are extraordinary claims. Someone making such claims is either crazy, or a liar, or he is telling the truth. There are not other options.
Today I would like to go further to verse ten of chapter fourteen. Jesus says, "Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works. Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me; otherwise believe because of the works themselves.”
Again Jesus is saying he is “in” the Father and the Father is “in” him. The preposition “in” means that the lives and personalities of God the Father and of God the Son inter-penetrate one another and are one. They are one, because God is one. The New Testament says that the “fullness of God dwells in Jesus” (Colossians 1:19 and 2:9), and that Jesus is “God become flesh” (John 1:14). God has done this (becoming flesh) so that he can identify with us, so that we humans can perceive Him, and so that he can suffer and die and be raised for us.
Jesus goes on to make the extraordinary claim that what he says and does, he says and does not on his own authority, but because of the Father living in him who is at work in him. Then in verse eleven he says, “Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me; otherwise believe because of the works themselves.”
So Jesus is asking his disciples, men who had known him and observed him closely over a number of years, to believe his claim of oneness with the Father. But then he says, if you cannot believe just based on your relationship with me, then believe because of the works you see in me. I believe by his “works” we can assume Jesus is talking about two things: First of all, he is talking about the miracles and acts of kindness that he did. Secondly, he is talking about all of his teaching.
If we look at Jesus’ miracles and other acts of kindness (like pardoning the woman who had been caught in adultery and was about to be stoned—[John 8:1-11]), we clearly see the power of God, the mercy of God, and the forgiveness of God. Then if we look at Jesus’s teaching, we see the same thing. The Sermon on the Mount, the Lord’s Prayer, and many of his parables are incomparable. Gandhi, a Hindu, said “the Sermon on the Mount is the most sublime treatment of ethics the world has ever known.” When a teacher of such wondrous teaching teaches us that he is one with God and that his teaching is from God, we should take him seriously. When the doer of such acts of power and compassion tells us that he is from God and one with God, we may want to believe him because the alternatives are not credible.
This column first appeared in the Pearland and Friendswood Reporter News. Rev. Winfield Casey Jones can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.