42. Faith in who

Meditations on ‘Focusing Faith’ : 42.  Faith in who

John 2:11  This, the first of his miraculous signs, Jesus performed at Cana in Galilee. He thus revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him.

There is this phrase that appears in our verse above, about putting “their faith in him,” meaning Jesus. It also appears in Jn 7:31, 8:30,  11:45, and 12:11, i.e. five times in all. It doesn’t appear at all in any of the other Gospels. Why? The answer almost certainly has to be that John’s Gospel was written much later that the other three and whereas they had simply sought to record the basic information about Jesus, John had had time to think and reflect on all that he had witnessed as one of Jesus’ main disciples and so when he writes, decades later, he has seen far more clearly that Jesus is the Son of God and portrays him clearly as this. He understands the ‘why’ of the things in the previous three Gospels.

John has realised that if Jesus is who he said he was, the Son of God who had come down from heaven (see Jn 6 and all his references to being the bread that has come down from heaven), he is to be the central feature of our faith. When we speak about ‘the Faith’ we refer to the body of understanding that makes up our belief system; when we simply refer to ‘faith’ we mean our response to God’s word, God’s revelation. John has seen that ‘the Faith’ is based entirely upon Jesus, he is the focus of our faith, the one upon whom everything we believe about our salvation is based, and therefore the one to whom we respond. He is the word from God to which we respond.

Throughout the Old Testament readings we have seen believers responding to God’s revelation, to His word to them, His interaction with them. Now that Jesus has come he is God’s word to us – The Word of John 1 – the revelation of the Father, but in the flesh, and it is to him that we respond. Faith in God takes a new focus now, focus on his son, “faith in him”.

We cannot over-emphasise how real this is. When we put our “faith in him” we do it first because of who he is, the unique Son of God who existed in heaven with the Father from the beginning, who was involved in the very creation (see Prov 8:22-31), who existed before time who “proceeded from the Father”, as one of the creeds puts it, “begotten not created” (and ‘begotten simply means ‘comes out of’), God himself who, when he appeared on earth was described as “the image of the invisible God” (Col 1:15) revealing the Father (Jn 14:9). Praying to the Father Jesus spoke of the glory I had with you before the world began,” (Jn 17:5) and of his disciples he said, “They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me,” (Jn 17:8) revealing even more his origins. The more and more you read the New Testament the more and more you will see this truth, that Jesus is unique, he is the Son of God who came from the Father in heaven, and returned to the Father in heaven. The writer to the Hebrews described his being as follows: “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word.” (Heb 1:3) That separates Jesus out from any other human being who has appeared on the earth.

But, second, we put our “faith in him” because of what he has done. We have already noted that he came down from heaven and was born as a tiny bay who grew into a man. After some thirty years he then started on three years of the most remarkable ministry that this world has ever witnessed, described in shorthand by the apostle Peter on the Day of Pentecost as “a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him.” (Acts 2:22) or in Jesus own words, “The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor.” (Mt 11:5) followed, in Peter’s words again by being “handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.” (Acts 2:23,24)  Death, crucifixion and resurrection, and then ascension (Acts 1:9) where scripture affirms he sat down at his Father’s right hand and now rules in the midst of his enemies (Mk 12:19, Psa 110:1,2)

And there we see the third reason we put our “faith in him” because of what he is doing. Listen to the testimony of Scripture: His ever expanding, peaceful government will never end. He will rule forever” (Isa 9:7) and “Christ Jesus… is sitting at the place of highest honour next to God, pleading for us.” (Rom 8:34)  and “And God has put all things under the authority of Christ, and he gave him this authority for the benefit of the church.” (Eph 1:22)  and “For Christ must reign until he humbles all his enemies beneath his feet.” (1 Cor 15:25) or, as we see in Rev 5 he is the Lamb of God who alone is found worthy to undo the scroll and oversee end time history. In ways probably beyond our understanding he is working into his world, especially through the church. When Jesus healed the man at the Gate Beautiful the apostle Peter testified,  “By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has given this complete healing  to him, as you can all see.” (Acts 3:16)  This was clearly an act of his ongoing rule.

But finally the fourth reason we put our “faith in him” is because of what he will do. There is coming a time when he will return again as a conquering king – see Rev 19  so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Phil 2:10,11)

Thus at the heart of The Faith is The One and it is on him that we focus as he leads us by his past works and his present activity towards a future climax, as he too serves the Father:  “Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.” (1 Cor 15:24,25) So one day we will join with all the others in heaven and join in and sing, “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise! …. To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!” (Rev 5:12,13)  Hallelujah!

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