Evangelism Should Be Bold
Jesus epitomized the statement “Actions speak louder than words.”
He did say things, yes, and we hold His words dear but it was His actions that stimulated responses more than His words. It was John who alluded to this truth in the last verse of his Gospel.
And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. John 21:25
Note that John was focused on the actions of Jesus not His words. I’m sure John recorded everything Jesus said that we needed to hear, leaving nothing out but what he couldn’t record, because of the sheer volume, were the countless things Jesus did. John portrayed a “doing” Jesus not a talking head.
It is also interesting to note that much of what Jesus did was done quietly in the background, without commentary. He didn’t do things to draw attention to himself. He was bold not noisy.
Consider the following:
Jesus’ Material Status
Jesus’ material station in life never changed. He started out on the lowest levels – born in a barn – and never moved up. He accumulated no material wealth to pass on, other than His clothing which was taken by the soldiers who carried out His execution (John 19:23-24). But in spite of His low material status He impacted all levels of society from the religious-political-business elite to the infirm beggars.
Nothing extraordinary happened when Jesus was baptized. He was accompanied by no entourage and no announcements were made before hand. Even John was surprised. He expected a little more pomp for the occasion. In fact, he never expected Jesus to be baptized at all. Instead he expected Jesus to baptize him. Oh, and Jesus was baptized in the same water as everyone else. No special treatment before hand.
The circumstances surrounding His baptism make a strong statement about Jesus approach to public ministry. He didn’t put on a show or try to be sensational and that hasn’t changed.
Wedding at Cana
At a wedding in Cana – when they ran out of wine – Jesus’ mother put Him on the spot to produce more. She was probably trying to force the issue. She knew exactly who Jesus was and she knew things were starting to shape up. John garnered a lot of attention with both his preaching and baptizing and she knew Jesus had been baptized. So why not use a miracle at a wedding to start the ball rolling.
To His credit Jesus did obey Mary – she was His mother – but He let her know she was meddling, in a very kind way, and the miracle went unnoticed. No one but the servants and Mary knew a miracle had been done and they were probably afraid to mention it.
There is an observation to be made from that. Miracles aren’t always the answer for every situation.
Jesus Baptizes In The Countryside
After cleansing the Temple (John 2), which obviously made a big splash, He went into the countryside – away from the crowds – to baptize followers (John 3:22). That seems strange. Why not baptize where everyone could see? When the Pharisees made a stir about Jesus baptizing more than John, Jesus packed up and moved on and He traveled through Samaria – the least prominent place, inhabited by the least influential people.
Jesus And Discipleship
Discipleship involved a learning process but it represented a special level of learning in Bible days.
Disciples were carefully chosen and the best ones eventually became Rabbis. Only the best of the best of the best could qualify.
Here’s how the system worked.
Every Jewish boy began attending synagogue school at the age of six and until the age of ten, they memorized the first five books of the Bible: Genesis, Exodus, Numbers, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy along with the interpretations.
From that group they selected the best of the best to study for another 4 years – the study included the rest of the Bible.
From that group the best of the best were allowed to apply to become a disciple of one of the recognized master teachers, Rabbis. The Rabbi examined the potential candidates and chose the best of the best.
The truth taught by the master teacher was referred to as their yoke, meaning it was to be protected, promoted, embraced, carried about, lived out, and represented to others.
Jesus, however, changed that. He gave a blanket invitation to anyone and everyone to become a disciple. His words:
Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden , and I will give you rest . 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matt. 11:28-30)
The implications are manifold:
- Everyone is invited not just the elite.
- Religious systems are hard to bear. Institutionalized religion grows more oppressive with each successive generation.
- Genuine truth is liberating.
Jesus Often Spoke Privately
Contrary to what many think Jesus made very few public statements but He often spoke to people privately.
- Jesus conversed with Nicodemus secretly at night. That was the way Nicodemus wanted it.
- Many believe the Sermon on the Mount was delivered privately to the disciples and later made public. (Matthew 5:1-2)
- When the family urged Him to take a higher profile approach, He separated from them briefly saying it wasn’t His time yet. (John 7:9-10)
- He healed a blind man privately and never sought recognition for it. (John 9:1-7)
- At the last supper He said very significant things to His disciples privately. (John 13-17)
- When the crowd tried to take Him and force Him to be King He went to an isolated place. (John 6:15)
Jesus’ Public Statements
On the odd occasion when Jesus did make statements in crowded situations it was always done to correct common perceptions about God, people and truth.
- He called Matthew, a tax collector, into service and then ate with him and his friends in his house, demonstrating that God was no respecter of persons.
- He interacted with Zaccheus, another tax collector, emphasizing the same point.
Some may think, like the family of Jesus, that His time has arrived, that now is the time for Jesus to be front and center, but I’m not so sure. He is still doing remarkable things in unexpected places through ordinary people but behind the scenes.
The Shack is just one example. Written by a non-writer and fictionally portraying Bible truths from a very edgy perspective, but still within the range of biblical possibility, the book has been an encouragement to hundreds of thousands of people, both Christian and non-Christian alike. It’s a book that makes you think. It relieves life’s pain without trying to deny it. It’s realistic in both a heaven and earth sense of the word. And no one saw it coming.
Twenty-six publishers received the pre-publication manuscript and all rejected it. Some because it was too edgy, others because it had too much Jesus. All were dumbfounded by its success. Even the author didn’t see it coming.
The truth is, Jesus is still working in the background.