• 8 January 2024

Chapter 14 – Meeting the Saviour

We must never treat suffering as an abstract philosophical issue. Jesus’s disciples did this in John 9. When they saw a man who was born blind begging they wondered, ‘Who sinned, this man or his parents?’ Jesus reproves them by saying, ‘Neither … this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him. As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work’ ( Jn. 9:2–3).

The Lord was thinking of his own life and death. When Judas leaves to betray Jesus, John writes, ‘It was night.’ What darkness. This is a passage and verse that has spoken powerfully to me since I’ve been unwell. As Ryle says in his Expository Thoughts on the Gospels, ‘There is no work in the grave towards which we are all fast hastening.’ The night is coming and this is the day of salvation.

Heaven will be amazing, but it will be too late for evangelism and I feel that imperative strongly. Time is short and we must take every opportunity to tell others of Christ.

What I have also found is that God has not only given me motivation, but also practically helped me in this area in two other ways. Firstly, that suffering opens up an opportunity to shine out the glory of God ( Jn. 9:3). People often think that Christians believe they are better than everyone else. But when we are struggling along with 94214fear, suffering and death we are demonstrating that we are precisely not like that. We are vulnerable and weak and, interestingly, people often find commonality in that.

The man born blind, in his troubles, was lying in Jesus’s way and so are we. What can we say to others? Well, we can pass on what the blind man was told, ‘You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you’ ( Jn. 9:37).

Secondly, how can we help our friends see the Son of Man? Five years ago a Christian friend of mine in the City of London convinced me to try inviting my non-Christian friends to have a chat with me about the Bible. He suggested I use the resource The Word One To One, which is simply John’s Gospel with helpful discussion notes alongside each verse. I was nervous about doing this but was staggered to find that many of my friends were only too willing to chat with me.

The Word One To One works because the gospel is supernaturally powerful and the notes assist to make each verse accessible. John’s Gospel is littered with people who are suffering in one way or another and whose lives are transformed by meeting the Saviour. That’s what happens in my experience when I use The Word One To One. As I open God’s Word with my friends, Jesus steps off the page and starts speaking to them.

Has your faith become all about you without you realising it? You may feel unqualified to share the gospel. Yet, doing so is exactly what we are all called to do in the Great Commission. Of course, there are lots of resources that might help us follow Christ’s command, but The Word One to One is one that I have found particularly useful.

So many ordinary untrained Christians throughout the world are discovering that God has prepared the hearts of their friends to agree to look at what the Bible has to say. What a wonderful joy it is to become a page-turner and Bible sharer as the Saviour does all the work in bringing new life through His Word.

Excerpt from Hope in the face of suffering – 20 devotions for tough times by Jeremy Marshall

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