What Would You Have Done?

By Jeff Peterson

Imagine yourself living in Jerusalem during the time of Jesus. A crowd is gathered in the streets. It’s a hot day; you are tired and the dust clings to your skin, but you walk over to see what the commotion is all about. There, in the center of the crowd, is a man similar in stature and build to you, dust clinging to his own skin. But he is charismatic; you can sense this instantly. His eyes hold your attention, drawing you in with a magnetism from which it’s impossible to break free. And when he speaks, the words flow smoothly from his mouth with all confidence and authority. You, like the rest of the crowd, are enraptured.

And then he says, “When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am He, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things. And He that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please Him.”

You look around and see that many in the crowd respond positively to this man’s words. They seem eager to hear more. Others, however, grow dark in their expressions. Some bend over to pick up stones.

What would you have done?

This charismatic man is, of course, Jesus Christ. And the words quoted above are from the Gospel of John, Chapter 8:28-29. The very next verse says, “As he spake these words, many believed on him.”

How could many people hear this man, dressed like they are, caked in dust like they are, and instantly believe Him? I must confess that when I read something like this in the gospels I often think that I would’ve been one of those with a darkening countenance. Maybe not picking up stones, but at least walking away with rolled eyes and a clicking tongue. After all, I’d hate to be considered gullible. And worse, I’d hate to worship the wrong God!

Think about it this way. The Jews living back then had intimate knowledge of God’s Law. They could quote the Ten Commandments without hesitation, and they most certainly heeded the first of the ten:

“I am the Lord your God. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” [Exodus 20: 1-2]

Then along comes a man claiming to be the Son of God, telling the Jews that no one comes to the Father but by Him. Can you empathize with some of the Jews who considered this blasphemy?

One could argue that Jesus performed miracles, which should’ve been all the proof they needed to believe. But the verse quoted earlier says that many just heard Him speak and they believed. And many others throughout the gospels witnessed miracle after miracle and never believed. Jesus even warns us of deception by false gods in the last days:

“For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders, insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.” [Matthew 24:24]

So there must have been something more beyond the miracles that convinced people back then to believe by hearing Jesus’ words, and that convinces people today to believe by reading those same words.

Jesus Christ coming to earth as God in human flesh is the pivotal moment in God’s master plan for humanity. The Old Testament points to this event with the sharpness of a laser. And from this laser point in time, the New Testament expands outward to the uncertainties of today. Jesus’ life and death and resurrection is the defining moment of our lives. Surely God, as He developed His plan, could foresee that some would not believe in Christ for fear of worshipping a false god. Surely He would not allow His plan to falter on a mere technicality such as this. And, indeed, He did not. Jesus Himself gives us the answer:

“And Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but He sent me.” [John 8:42]

“He that is of God heareth God’s words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God.” [John 8:47]

Those of us who seek after God and choose Him as our Heavenly Father possess a miraculous ability to hear Jesus’ words and to believe them as coming from the Father. Those who do not choose God hear Jesus’ words and consider them to be silly, if not outright blasphemous. This implies that we must seek God first, before we can fully accept Jesus; and then we must accept Jesus to reach God. That’s what God the Father desires those who desire Him. And those people His elect hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ and recognize it as divine. Those who seek religion for the sake of religion, or culture, or self-indulgence hear that same gospel in a much different way. They don’t recognize the Word of God in it, and, if it contradicts their own religion, they deem it untrue.

There is hope in these two versus for the believer. If, on a down day, your faith in Christ wanes, seek after God the Father. He will lead you back to His Son, every time, without fail. Be a man or woman of God and you will hear your Heavenly Father’s words ringing true in the Gospel of Christ.

There is hope, too, for those living in a culture where Christ is not preached. If God can divinely equip us to recognize His Son, surely He can do the same with His children in Saudi Arabia, China, or anywhere else on the face of the earth.

“And again I say unto you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved? But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.” [Matthew 19:24-26]

His kingdom is waiting for those who desire to be with Him and reside there eternally. If you sincerely believe there is a God who created the heavens and the earth, and who created the inhabitants of the earth, seek Him, and He will lead you to Christ, and Christ will take you to Him. There is no greater evangelist in the world.

And if you struggle in your faith – you’re not sure of God’s existence, but you desire to know Him in case He’s real – seek Him. Pray for knowledge and understanding of Him. He will lead you to His Son, and His Son will take you to Him, because, as the verse above explains, with God all things are possible.

Go back to the streets of Jerusalem and put yourself in the crowd of people listening to Jesus. Some believed. Some picked up stones. What would you have done? If you are truly after God’s heart you would’ve been one of whom the Bible says, “As He spake these words, many believed on Him.” Rest assured.

Jeff Peterson is a father of four and is serving on active duty in the U.S. Air Force.

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