It is not easy to tell someone they are going to hell. It is not easy to stir up the courage to talk to a family member or friend about their need to consider the person and claims of Jesus. It is not easy to interrupt a person’s life to ask them about their spiritual journey and get them to think about S-I-N in T-H-E-M-S-E-L-V-E-S. Yet Smitty did all three for me.
It is a tough job to be a representative of Jesus. He sets the tone, gives the message and the mandate (and the power to fulfill it), and expects results. Yet if we think witnessing for Him is difficult, we need to pause and remember that Jesus is carrying the heaviest part of the effort. He did not ask us to do the hardest part of the redemptive act when he was crucified and buried back in the first century. Jesus died for the sins of all men and women, and rose again on the third day.
Jesus did the hard part. He stood silent before a jeering crowd and allowed his perfect name to be slandered. He winced as His accusers slammed a crown of thorns on His head. His body ached as He lugged a heavy crossbeam up the hill of Golgotha. He felt the excruciating pain as nails were driven into his feet and hands, securing him to a Roman cross. His body convulsed as the cross He was nailed to was hoisted up and dropped, being stabilized in the ground. To top it off, Jesus experienced cosmic separation and rejection from God, the Father, when He turned away from Him as He bore the incredible weight of punishment for all of our sins.
As he neared death, Jesus cried out, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46). His cry echoed through the valley, off the rocks in the Place of the Skull, and died off in the shadows of that dark day. Shortly, new words escaped from the parched lips of Jesus. In utter triumph, he said, “It is finished” (Mark 15:37 and John 19:30), and bowed his head. Jesus did what He said He came to do: He was the Lamb of God sent to take away the sins of the world.
Read John 19:1-30.
Jesus was willing to suffer the death that every human being was destined to face. Because of His selfless act, those of us who accept his gift of salvation are set free from sin, separation from God, and a Christ-less eternity. Matthew wrote in his Gospel that an angel said to the women who came to the tomb looking for Jesus that He had risen from the dead (28:5). He then told the women to “come and see the place where He lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples.” (28:6-7). Today, that instruction leaves us with one thing we must do. Tell others about Jesus.
I am a follower of Jesus today in primarily due to the witness and friendship of Doug Smith at Ohio University in the late 1970’s. Smitty was convinced that Jesus was who He said He was. Smitty was committed to living out the teaching of Jesus on campus regardless of the cost. Smitty was an engaging, fun, personable student athlete. His allegiance was to the Kingdom of God. He believed it was his responsibility to tell as many as possible about King Jesus.
Smitty knew I might go through life and miss being re-connected to Jesus. As a result, he took a risk in talking to me, and I later decided to become a follower of Jesus. I have also followed Smitty’s example of starting conversations, listening to others, and finding ways to introduce Jesus to others. It is hard at times, but I remind myself that Jesus has already done the hard part.
Live communally. The news of Jesus is too good to keep to our selves. Come, see, go and tell.
Love is a verb,