Strong spirits: references


Photo: Don LaVange

Do you have a resume?

You probably do if you're working. If you're still employed, you probably have a resume because you may need it to get to another job.

What is a resume? Well, it's something that tells what your experience is, what your capacities are, what your talents are, your interests, and where you've worked before.

Towards the bottom of the resume, there's something that's very important, and it's called references. There you list the names of some people that you can count on to give you a positive feedback to whoever it is you're applying for work. You hope that those people will help you get a position.

In John, chapter five, if you read the very end of that chapter, you will find Jesus having a conversation with the Pharisees, who are questioning him. They didn't really like Jesus. He didn't play ball the way they liked him to play ball. He did not play the game their way.

He was challenging them. They were always challenging him. And in this particular portion of Scripture, we find Jesus giving his resume, but particularly his references.

  • John the Baptist. What John saw about Jesus made a very clear impact on John that this Jesus was in fact the Messiah. 
  • The work that Jesus was doing, which the Father has given Jesus to do: healing people, delivering people from evil spirits, raising people from the dead. The completion of his work was when he gave his sinless life on the cross for the sins of the world.
  • The Father, who spoke at the baptism of Jesus: "This is my beloved son. Listen to him." He said the same thing later on the Mount of Transfiguration. 
  • Scripture itself, which refers to Jesus throughout.
  • Moses, who said there would be another one like himself, still to come.

Jesus is saying to the Pharisees that he's giving them all the possible evidence they could ever need to recognize who Jesus is and what it is he is doing and whose he is - and that he is, in fact, the Messiah, that he is, in fact, the unique Son of God.

The story goes on, of course, and the Pharisees ultimately have Jesus put to death. But not all of them. If you remember, in chapter three of John, Nicodemus came to Jesus in the night and said, "You must be from God because of all the things that you are able to do. Nobody could do what you're doing if they weren't from God."

Now the question is, are you a reference for Jesus? Has he met you? Has he given you hope and dealt with you in such a way that you can say Jesus is the real deal? You could have a whole lifetime full of religious thinking. The Pharisees did, but they didn't know Jesus. But once you encounter him, once he meets your need, once he heals you, once he delivers you, once he sets you free, then you become a reference for him. 

And can you imagine how many references there are for Jesus around the world? All the people who've come to faith in him because of what Jesus did for them? And his resume grows and grows and grows, too. Because of all the works that his people have been doing in the days since he went to heaven and sent the Holy Spirit to fill us, to make us his hands and feet, his body on earth doing the work of the gospel.

Are you part of that? Are you a reference for Jesus? Would Jesus point to you and say, "Talk to him. Talk to her. They know who I am." I hope we are. I hope we could be good references for Jesus.

I hope he would list us on his resume and say, "Here's somebody you can talk to anytime you need to know." If that's not the case, pray that it would be. Put yourself in God's hands. Ask Him to make you more like him so you can be that reference, that witness for him.


Besides serving as pastor at Caledonia Congregational Church, Gary Schwerin is the Spiritual Development Minister for the YMCA of the Rock River Valley and Executive Director of Bridge Ministries of Rockford. Prior to launching Bridge Ministries, Gary spent many years in leadership with Young Life. His columns appear here every Sunday - to see them all, subscribe to our daily email.

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