Evangelism; February 9, 2019

John 3:14-15 “Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.”

Verse 16 being the most famous verse in the whole Bible, these verses get somewhat overshadowed. They are actually vitally important, particularly for anyone involved in Christian ministry. We tend to get all involved in programs and techniques and “movements,” when Jesus Himself said the key was that He Himself be lifted up. (Interestingly, the Shinkaiyaku Japanese translation ends the quote with verse 15, making verse 16 and following John’s commentary on what Jesus said. Since koine Greek didn’t have punctuation of any sort, much less quotation marks, that’s actually not at all unreasonable, given an objective examination of the text.) We rightly understand that Jesus was talking about His crucifixion, since the pole Moses used would logically have had a crosspiece to hold up the bronze snake. However, that’s far from the end of it. John later records some Greeks asking to see Jesus, and Jesus took that as a sign from the Father that His time was at hand. (John 12:20-23) When people see Jesus, through our words or our lives or however, they are drawn to Him. (Actually, those who are in rebellion may try to run from Him, but that is futile by definition.) Accordingly, the task of every believer is to seek for Jesus to be as evident as possible in their life. We tend strongly to relegate evangelism to “professionals,” when the mandate is given to every believer. (Matthew 28:18-20) We are to be witnesses, that is, lift up Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 1:8) Likewise, “professional Christians” too often lift themselves up, rather than lifting up the Lord they serve. If we want lasting fruit, we must lift up Jesus, above and before and beyond anything or anyone else.

I certainly desire to lift up Jesus, but my level of fruitfulness, or rather lack of it, gives me pause. The comfort there is that nobody is terribly fruitful in Japan! Many Japanese pastors and missionaries have chased techniques, since what they were doing obviously wasn’t working, but that is an exercise in futility. The churches in Japan that seem most “vibrant” and “successful” are in areas with large immigrant populations, and it is those non-Japanese that are providing the vibrance. Thankfully, Japanese young people do get pulled into that, but the energy tends to be with the foreigners. I need to seek the Lord as to how to lift up Christ to the Japanese, and not try to copy some “successful” church elsewhere. Nothing is impossible for God, so I need to let the Holy Spirit work through me freely.

Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for the awesome conference that just finished, and for getting us home safely. I pray that everything You said in that conference may bear abundant fruit, not only in me but in every participant, on the stage and off, for the sake of Your kingdom and Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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