The writer of the book of Hebrews begins his magisterial letter on Christ as the end of the Old Covenant and the embodiment of the New with these words: “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds.”
In a similar way, St. John believes that God has given men many witnesses to men by which they may know that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God, by whom the world is saved. This is how St. John closes his remarkable Gospel: “This is the disciple who testifies of these things and wrote these things; and we know that his testimony is true. And there are many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written!”
At the end of John 5, it is Jesus Himself who recounts that many witnesses that God has provided to reveal who Jesus is. Here are the witnesses that Jesus announces: God the Father, Jesus Himself, John the Baptist, the works of Jesus, the Scriptures, Moses, and the words of Jesus. It’s a pretty impressive list, isn’t it?
I find that in our lives as well God has provided us with a cloud of many witnesses to who He is. In fact, many of the same witnesses that Jesus mentions are still with us today.
God the Father is certainly still at work in the world today.
Jesus Himself is no longer physically present on the earth, and so it might appear as if God has withdrawn the key witness in the whole drama! But Jesus is very much with us, in a more powerful way than when he walked the Holy Land. Jesus says, “Most assuredly I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father” (John 14:12).
How can this be? Because when Jesus went to the Father, He sent the Holy Spirit into His Body, the Church, and made it a living and new creature. The body of Jesus that walked the earth was localized in terms of time and place: His public ministry was only for 3 years, and it was limited to Israel. But now His Body has walked the earth for 2000 years and is distributed throughout the whole world!
We don’t have John the Baptist, either, do we? But we do have courageous prophets who are willing to lose their heads to proclaim Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I’ll bet some of you are now disciples of Jesus Christ because of such John the Baptists in our lives.
The works of Jesus continue because His ministry continues through the Church.
The Scriptures of Jesus’ day still bear witness, but now they have been completed and glorified. The Scriptures to which Jesus refers are the Jewish Scriptures of the Old Testament, and they were enough to reveal Jesus to people. But we have the completed written testimony of the Lord in the New Testament, which speaks much more clearly and gloriously about Jesus Christ.
We don’t have Moses, or the apostles for that matter, but we do have thousands and thousands of godly leaders who reveal Jesus to us.
And, of course, the words of Jesus are still with us, through the Scriptures.
I invite you to add to this list. St. Paul teaches that God is made manifest through His creation (Romans 1), and David teaches that the heavens declare the glory of God (Psalm 1).
God reveals Himself daily through the people in our lives, even those who aren’t Christians. But do you realize the potential to see God through your Christian brothers and sisters? Each of us who bear Christ within us through the ministry of the Spirit, are like atoms of the Body of Christ. Each of us contains within us the energy of the atom, which if harnassed can run great cities. Spiritually speaking, each Christian brother and sister is a John the Baptist in your life, if only you will take time to have godly conversations with them.
It may appear that God has abandoned you in your life or that He has stopped speaking or sending witnesses. But I say to you that He has surrounded you with a great cloud of witnesses so that you may never forget Him.
And your job today is to look for, find, and listen to those witnesses, that you may see the Lord and be blessed by Him today.
Prayer: O Thou holy and unspeakable, Thou wonderful and mighty God, whose power and wisdom hath no end, before whom all powers tremble, at whose glance the heavens and the earth flee away, Thou art Love, Thou art my Father, and I will love and worship Thee for ever and ever!
Thou has deigned to show pity on me, and a ray from Thy light hath shone upon mind inward eye. Guide me on into the perfect light, that it may illuminate me wholly, and that all darkness may flee away. Let the holy flame of Thy love so burn in my heart that it may be made pure in, and I may see Thee, O God; for it is the pure in heart who see Thee. Thou hast set me free; Thou hast drawn me to Thee; therefore forsake me not, but keep me always in Thy grace. Guide me, and rule me, and perfect me for Thy kingdom, Amen.
Point for Meditation:
Make a list of the ways in which God reveals Himself to men. Which ones are the ones where you most clearly and powerfully see God? In which ones might you be able to see God if you looked for Him there?
Resolution: I resolve to look for and listen God in a way today that I don’t normally look for or listen to.
Jan van Eyck – Adoration of the Lamb – U.S. Public Domain