Many people claim to know truths that other people don’t. Religious people, for example, often have their own theories or theologies that they would like others to believe. This is good, of course, if the truths that they are sharing are actually truths, and not mere speculations or falsehoods.

When Jesus began to preach, John says of him, “He who comes from above is above all others; he who is from the earth belongs to the earth and uses earthly speech. He who comes from heaven bears witness to what he has seen and heard, even though no one accepts his witness. To accept his witness is to affirm that God speaks the truth; for he whom God sent utters the words of God” (John 3:31-34, REB)

Jesus came bearing witness to what he had seen and heard—the truths about God, who had sent him from heaven. He claimed to know things that are true, even if nobody accepts his witness. Jesus claimed to be sent from God and to be uttering the words of God.

How do we know that Jesus is the true messenger of God? When Jesus called his disciples, he told two of them to “Come and see,” and to others he said, “Follow me” (John 1:39,44). Jesus did not tell people to accept his truth without demonstrating that truth himself. When John the Baptist asked whether he was the true Messiah, Jesus pointed to the works that he was doing, healing the blind and lame (Luke 7:22). Jesus also says that we can look at people’s deeds to see whether they are truly messengers of God (Matt 7:15-20).

Jesus kept his own challenge. He acted according to his message and lived an upright life, demonstrating himself to be a true witness of heavenly things. If we “come and see” what Jesus is like, we will not be disappointed.

Often those who claim to tell us the truth act defensive when they are questioned. But Jesus was not afraid to talk to those who had questions, like Nicodemus (John 3). People who claim to know the truth are often very passionate. Often they give convincing arguments for their positions. Both of those are good things—Jesus often grew passionate, and he was able to engage with any arguments that people had.

Still, Jesus showed a meek and humble spirit. He was willing to be mocked and even crucified, and he forgave his enemies. When he grew angry, it was not for his own sake; he grew angry only when people were making a mockery of God’s law. Someone who truly knows the truth can quietly and humbly speak the truth without being afraid of what other people will say.

“To accept [Jesus’] witness is to affirm that God speaks the truth” (John 3:33). We can trust that Jesus’s message is from God—Jesus did not speak for his own sake but for the sake of the one who sent him. Jesus demonstrated by his actions that he was sent from God.

When we hear people who claim to be messengers of truth, let’s evaluate them according to these principles. Is their message about the truth, or is it about them? Are they humble and reasonable, or do they act angry or defensive? Do their lives line up with the way Jesus calls us to live, or do they make excuses to keep from living according to Jesus’ standard?

When we offer other people the truth, let’s offer it humbly. Encourage them to “come and see” the example of Jesus and his church. Instead of trying to win arguments, let’s win people for the Kingdom.

– Lynn Martin

Lynn writes for the Anabaptist Faith blog.