This week I’m spending time preparing two messages to give on Sunday. My text for the weekend is John 15:26-27, “When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will bear witness about me. And you also must bear witness because you have been with me from the beginning.”
This passage is set in the Upper Room or at least on the way to the Mount of Olives just before Jesus’ death. It is the final time Jesus and his disciples will be together, and between 13:31 and the end of chapter 16 Jesus speaks his final words to them. These two verses are placed in the middle of Jesus talking about the persecution they will face, even by those who think they are offering a service to God (16:3).
Last night, before I had a meeting to go to, I began pondering what it means to bear witness. It is evident from the text that the Spirit gives witness about Jesus, in other words, the central point of the Spirit being sent is to testify about Jesus’ life, ministry, death and resurrection.
One must also ponder what it means for us.
The disciples are given somewhat of a command, they must bear witness. Why? Because they have been with him since the beginning of his ministry.
Here we see what they will be witnessing about.
Not only will the Spirit witness about Jesus’ life, ministry, death and resurrection, but so will his disciples. This grounds the Gospel and the life of Jesus in a historical context. Suddenly we see that 1 Corinthians 15:3-5 comes into play and agreement is reached regarding the historical fact of Jesus and the Gospel. Here is one part of bearing witness, testifying to the truth of Jesus.
There also seems to be a distinct link to Jesus’ final command to his disciples in Matt 28:19-20, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything i have commanded you.”
The act of bearing witness could then be classified as evangelism and teaching. Telling people about Jesus and teaching people about Jesus.
Bearing witness and being a disciple of Jesus also have lifestyle implications. A disciple of Jesus doesn’t just proclaim the historical Gospel with their mouth, or teach others about Jesus they also pursue a life worthy of the Gospel.
A life of being a disciple is a life of following Jesus, his words and actions.