Note: This series is written as a first-person narrative in order to present Jesus in the context he walked with the unknown disciple that narrates presenting my thoughts and sparking more thoughts with his questions. Enjoy.
While we were on our way to Nain, the crowd following us continued to grow. In the distance, we could see the town gate and what looked like a crowd exiting it. Wailing and crying drifted towards us.
Jesus paused, his eyes taking it in.
“A funeral?” James asked.
“Yes,” John answered, “that looks like a body they’re carrying out.”
I noticed an older woman wailing louder than most. I hurt for her, it must’ve been her husband or son. A double loss since the kids traditionally cared for their parents in their old age.
Jesus met her halfway as she led the procession, saying, “Don’t cry.”
She looked at him with a mixture of emotions flickering across her face. Shock, anger, grief. The crowd’s mood turned angry at the insensitivity Jesus seemed to have.
Jesus, ignoring them, walked over the stretcher and touched it. “Young man, I say to you, get up!”
Movement stirred on it, a gasp, and he sat up, looking at us.
“What’s going on?” he asked.
The men carrying the stretcher almost dropped him in shock. They set him down and Jesus helped him to his feet, presenting him to his mother.
Amazed, everyone began to praise God. “A great prophet has appeared among us,” they said. “God has come to help his people.”
I watched as people ran to spread the news, still in shock myself.
There’s a knock at the door. You open it up to see two nicely dressed people waiting to talk to you. Are they Mormons or Jehovah Witnesses (JWs)? Both groups like to get personal and their drive is admirable.
You stare at each other. What happens now?
That’s what happened to us and I saw a few opportunities in it. One, knowing the differences in our theology, it was a way to pressure test our faith. You do not talk to JWs if you don’t know your Bible, they are well-versed in it and trained evangelists.
Two, counter-evangelism. Most people shut the door in their faces. I let them in, and invited them back, building relationship and pushing back with questions here or there on their beliefs. They have a huge focus on the end times and the Kingdom of God.
We discussed the 144,000, how to know if you are one of the 144,000, and so on over the course of two visits. Like the noble Berean, I checked the Scriptures myself (Acts 17:11). There’s a principle for you, check for yourself in the Bible, don’t take things you’re told at face value. Paul told Timothy to study and show himself approved (2 Timothy 2:15).
Okay, what about this, and I showed them Hebrews 1:5-6.
For to which of the angels did God ever say,
“You are my Son;
today I have become your Father”?
“I will be his Father,
and he will be my Son”?
And again, when God brings his firstborn into the world, he says,
“Let all God’s angels worship him.”
They blew it off. Their whole argument was based on their is only one loyal heavenly army, not two. It can’t answer to Michael the Archangel and Jesus. I replied that while I’m over an entire shift, that shift also answers to the plant manager.
They kept insisting that the heavenly army can’t answer to both Jesus and Michael.
Where it started in love, it became a battle as I got frustrated.
I went to John 1:3, breaking out logic, using a form of this philosophical argument here.
Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.
Blew it off too.
Then I showed every verse that I had that showed the deity of Christ, argued for the Trinity, told him his translation was flawed. My speech wasn’t full of grace or seasoned with salt (Colossians 4:6).
Before they left, one pointed out this verse in 1 Corinthians 8:1.
Now about food sacrificed to idols: We know that “We all possess knowledge.” But knowledge puffs up while love builds up.
I can definitely let it.
Arguing theology with JWs is hard and deity of Christ is the theological hill I’ll die on. I was saddened later by how I handled it and their response. Instead of concern for their souls, it became a battle to prove who was right.
My hope is what my friend Eric reminded me of, that something I said will take root and grow. We can only plant or water, evangelize and teach, but God makes it grow or happen.
Next time I may use John Piper’s approach over at Desiring God.
Note: This series is written as a first-person narrative in order to present Jesus in the context he walked with the unknown disciple that narrates presenting my thoughts and sparking more thoughts with his questions.
After Jesus’s sermon, we walked down the mountain towards Capernaum with a small crowd following. As we entered the city gates we were met by the local elders. Jesus stopped, and one began to speak.
“There is a centurion here in the city whose servant is dying. He asked that we come ask you to heal his servant.”
Simon the Zealot exclaimed, “You want Jesus to heal one of our country’s oppressors!”
Jesus raised a quieting hand. Jesus said to him, “Shall I come and heal him?”
The elders continued, “This man deserves to have you do this, because he loves our nation and has built our synagogue.”
A God-fearing Gentile was rare, I thought as we followed Jesus and the elders. Let alone one that financially supported a synagogue. That was more common in the Decapolis where Jews and Gentiles were more intermixed. Jews simply did not enter the home of an unclean Gentile.
We were almost there when more people met us. They were friends of the centurion, and they had another message.
“Lord, don’t trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. That is why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you. But say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”
Jesus looked at us in amazement. He said to us, “Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith. I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
Believing in long-distance healing took a special faith. What really got my attention was Jesus talking about the Gentiles being counted among God’s righteous. And some of the Jews being left out? Being Jewish was supposed to guarantee us a seat at the table! God picked us!
Instead, some Jews will be damned. How? Why?
Then Jesus said to the centurion’s friends, “Go! Let it be done just as you believed it would.”
They returned to find him healed. We stayed in the city for awhile, but soon we were on our way to Nain.