It is Jesus the church bears witness to. Verse 16 makes it clear it is Jesus the church holds up for the world to see. If you think about it, we all bear witness to numerous things in our lives. If you are employed, you bear witness to some degree to your place of employment—you represent them in some manner. You may be all some people know about that place. The same thing holds true if you’re a student, you bear witness to the school you attend. In a larger sense, we bear witness as sons and daughters, fathers and mothers, husbands and wives, to the families we are part of.
But for disciples, the truth that is at the core of our being is Jesus. We understand that we were made to image our Father. We came from God and we’re going back to God and Jesus is the way. He is at the center of everything we do and are. We hold Him up for others to see by the way we live—the words we speak, the attitudes we display, the choices we make, and the way we treat others.
The church has no other story! In Psalm 89 the writer speaks of how the moon is a faithful witness. It is a faithful witness because at night, when the sun has gone down, we see the bright moon and know that the sun is there even though we don’t see it. The moon has no light of its own—whatever brightness it has is because of the sun. We have no story other than Jesus. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). It was Thomas of Kempis in his Imitation of Christ said, “Without the way there is no going, without the truth there is no knowing, and without the life there is no living,” Jesus is not a fallback when a relationship goes sour, our health or our business fail—the church has no other story! We are relationships are wonderful, our health is great and business is booming—we still have no other story!
The NT writers present Jesus as the dynamic for our spiritual growth. We all held our breath a little bit when the Colonial Pipeline was shut down for six days as the result of a ransomware attack by Russian hackers. It doesn’t take much imagination to connect the dots and see how a gas short could affect our lives on several levels. In the same way, It is Jesus who fuels the church. Read through the New Testament and the words Jesus, Christ, Messiah, Son of God, or Son of Man are used over 2,000 times. Compare that with the words faith, hope, love, truth, and belief, being used approximately 1,000 times in the NT. As Jesus said in John 15:5, “I am the Vine; you are the branches. If you remain in Me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”
Jesus is our story and we’re sticking with it. As Paul wrote, “I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day.” (2 Timothy 1:12)