Whether we have spent time in a courtroom, or just watching lawyer dramas on TV, we have each probably watched someone answering questions on the witness stand. After being charged to tell the truth, lawyers ask witnesses (whether people who observed key events, or those who are considered “experts”) questions, and the entire courtroom listens to the response. On TV shows, the testimony is pre-scripted and meant to lead the story along. In real life, I suspect that some testimony isn’t nearly as polished (or even relevant), despite lawyer’s work to prepare witnesses with a specific goal in mind.
After Jesus talked with a Samaritan women at a well (see John 4), she went and told others that she had met the Messiah – the One who had been promised centuries earlier. Still, this testimony was only enough to get others to investigate. Others Samaritans from the local town became more confident in the accuracy of this testimony once they had personally met with Jesus – when they had evidence.
and they were saying to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves and know that this One is indeed the Savior of the world.”
John 4:42 NASB
Testimony in a court is expected to be accurate, and lead to the truth. Despite extreme cases depicted in dramas on television, and occasional exceptions in real life, the goal of a trial in court should be to find the truth. Lawyers can provide fair representation and due process for their clients, but the judge and jury are called upon to discover the truth and to dispense justice accordingly.
When it comes to matters that are larger than a mere government institution can adjudicate, finding the truth is even more important. Questions like, “Why am I here?”, “What is my purpose?”, “Is there a God?”, “What is God like?”, and “What should I do with my life?” must never be answered by fiction, scripts, or human imagination. Instead, if we are to find the answers, we need a source of untarnished truth.
Jesus not only claimed to be the Truth, but also proved that His statements were true by living out a life that verified this claim. This was not just testimony, but also evidence.
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.
John 14:6 NASB
This was – and still is today – a dramatic claim, and one that had to be proven. Jesus not only performed miracles to show the power of God, but He also fulfilled numerous prophecies. God even gave verbal and visible testimony to Jesus’ status as His Son (see Mark 1:9-11). However, the most compelling evidence that Jesus was who He said He was occurred when God raised Jesus from the dead, just as Jesus had prophesied (see John 2:22).
In the same way, for those who know Jesus, our testimony should also be truthful, and be backed up with evidence – from history, from our own experiences, and from the way we live. That way, in the “court” of life, our truthful testimony should help people to find the Truth and take appropriate action.
In the Christian world, we will sometimes hear someone deliver a “testimony”. When that testimony is true (which I expect it usually is), and points people towards the ultimate Truth (Jesus Christ), then all those around can separate out the truth from the noise and deception that seeks to confuse them, and learn what reality is really like.
However, a testimony doesn’t always need to be an emotionally-gripping story of how God saved someone from imminent doom and destruction. Like a witness to an event, everyone who has learned truth from Jesus can testify to what they have seen, heard, and experienced. Then, in doing so, the “jury” of humankind around them can properly determine their correct response to that truth.
And, if you’re not sure when you might be called to the “stand”, take some time to consider your faith, and what truth God has taught you. Then, you too can be a star witness. (See 1 Peter 3:13-16.)
Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. Copyright by The Lockman Foundation.