Bible reading plan Bible reading plan

Witnesses

06 August 2023

A man stands in front of a high wall. Behind him graffiti with block letters spell 'Jesus'.

My Ancient History teacher (a title based on his subject, not his own age) once threw in an aside in a lesson that stuck with me.  He mentioned an ancient letter that recorded that when a region was hit by plague, everyone left, with the notable exception of the Christians.  They stayed and helped the sick.  Nearly two thousand years later, that Roman official’s testimony bore witness to the power of God at work through His people to a class of seventeen years olds listening to a lecture so dry you could have used it for kindling.

 

Aristides of Athens noted that, ‘The Christians do not commit adultery.  They do not bear false witness.  They do not covet their neighbour’s goods.  They honour father and mother.  They love their neighbours.  They judge justly.  They avoid doing to others what they do not wish done to them.  They do good to their enemies.  They are kind.’  What a witness!

 

The readings this week really made me think about the power of the testimony.  We see it misused in Peter’s denial.  Later on, the religious leaders bribe the tomb guards to give false testimony about the resurrection.  In Psalm 92, we are encouraged to testify to God’s unfailing love every morning.  The closing words in the Gospel of Matthew commission us to take our testimony to the world.  In Hebrews, the writer testifies to who Jesus is, and debunks some false teaching and misconceptions held by his readers.

 

A testimony is a powerful thing.  There’s even a commandment related to it.  “You must not testify falsely against your neighbour.’ Exodus 20:16. That’s not all: Deuteronomy 19:15-21 has safeguards in place so that the power of a witness has some legal accountability.  Martin G Collins (in an article entitled ‘The Ninth Commandment’) says, ‘If enacted today, the Old Testament law—that a false witness would receive the same penalty that would have been given to the accused—would substantially reduce the number of lawsuits in our courts!  People sue indiscriminately because they have no penalties to fear.’

 

If we don’t have a habit of proclaiming God’s unfailing love first thing in the morning, perhaps the words of Psalm 92 will help us start a holy habit.  Remembering to testify to the goodness of God will save us from complaining and speaking like someone with no hope.  For us, the death and resurrection of Jesus is not merely history.  We are part of his story and he cares intimately about us.  He is our risen reality.  

 

In Psalm 92:4 we read, ‘You thrill me Lord, with all you have done for me!  I sing for joy because of what you have done.’ (NLT)  As these last chapters of Matthew amaze us with God’s ultimate expression of love, let’s tell others about our amazing Saviour with our destiny-changing, life-giving words.  Have a great week!


Photo of Mark Melhado

Mark Melhado

Youth Pastor
GoChurch Manchester