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The day following Jesus would go forth into Galilee, and findeth Philip, and saith unto him, Follow me. Now Philip was of Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph. (John 1:43~45)
Book of John, which Begins with Witnessing
The Bible talks about how people meet Jesus and change. Therefore whoever meets Jesus has the heart of wanting to introduce or testify of Jesus. When you discover what a truly filthy, dirty, and evil human you are, distrust yourself, and Jesus fills your heart, you then have peace, joy, and thankfulness you cannot find anywhere else in the world. Thus you cannot help but introduce and testify of Jesus. For example, the Samaritan woman in John chapter 4 introduced Jesus after meeting him. She entered the village and preached about Jesus. In John chapter 5, the man with the infirmity for 38 years was healed, taking up his bed and walking. The Jews then said, “It is the Sabbath and it is unlawful that you are taking up your bed and walking.” He then answered, “The one who healed me said to take up my bed and walk,” and introduced Jesus. The man born blind in John chapter 9 introduced and testified of Jesus, saying, “The one named Jesus healed me. I was blind, but now I see,” when his eyes were opened. There are many words in John chapter 1 testifying of Jesus. John the Baptist introduced Jesus to his disciples, Andrew introduced Jesus to Peter, and Philip introduced Jesus to Nathanael. This is how John chapter 1 begins. Then if you read the final chapter, chapter 21, Peter discovers himself upon denying Jesus three times. Peter previously believed in himself but realized what a pitiful person he was. He says, “What kind of a disciple am I? What kind of an apostle am I? I am none!” and returns to his past days of a fisher, to the sea of Galilee to go fishing. Chapter 21 talks about how right then, early in the morning, Jesus comes to Peter. In the Book of John, Jesus spoke with Nicodemus, the Samaritan woman, the man with the infirmity for 38 years, the woman taken in adultery, the man born blind from birth . . . . But the Book of John ends with the conversation between Peter and Jesus. Jesus asked Peter, “Simon, son of Jonas, do you love me more than all of these people?” Peter should say that he loves Jesus; before, that is what he would immediately say. But since he denied Jesus, even though he said that he would never deny Jesus even unto death, he could no longer believe himself. He could not say that he loves Jesus. “Thou knowest that I love you, Lord.” Jesus asked Peter three times, “Simon the son of Jonas, do you love me more than all these people?” “Lord, thou knowest all things, and thou knowest that I love you, Lord.” When Peter answered thus, Jesus spoke to Peter. “Herd my sheep. Feed my flock.” John chapter 1 begins with witnessing, and the final chapter, chapter 21, ends with words about herding sheep.
I Wish I Could Be Like This Woman
In Matthew chapter 25, Jesus finally judges between the sheep and the goats. The sheep are separated from the goats, and the sheep gain eternal life while the goats are cursed. Here the goats represent unsaved people and the sheep represent saved people. Witnessing is not making people into church-goers or into zealously religious people. It is making the sheep of God who are under Jesus Christ who is the shepherd. If you receive the forgiveness of sin, you become a person who belongs to Jesus. John chapter 1 begins with witnessing and chapter 21 ends with feeding the sheep. In between, the process of becoming a sheep has been precisely recorded. The story of the Samaritan woman meeting Jesus, the story of the man with the infirmity for 38 years meeting Jesus . . . . These stories precisely describe the process of how they met Jesus, how they received the forgiveness of sins, and how they became born again to become Jesus’ sheep. This is what the Book of John is about. Along the way, there is the story of the woman taken in adultery coming before Jesus and receiving the forgiveness of sin in John chapter 8. This woman clearly committed adultery, and she was caught in the act. She should surely be stoned to death, but what happened to her upon meeting Jesus? Jesus tells her this towards the end of their conversation: “Woman, where are those thine accusers? Hath no man condemned thee?” “No man, Lord.” “Neither do I condemn thee, go and sin no more.” He said this, then let the woman go. I gain strength through this as I read the book of John. In my spiritual life, the most difficult and dreaded part was sin. I gave many prayers of confession before the Lord, repented zealously with all my might, but I never could have the confidence to say, “I am clean from sin.” “How dare I say I am clean in front of God? I am a dirty sinner. Even though I believe Jesus, how could I be clean?” I sometimes thought this. “I am fine with not going to heaven, but I only hope I don’t go to hell. I don’t care if I have to clean the bathrooms in heaven or be a door keeper, as long as I don’t go to hell.” I was struggling with sin and one day while I was kneeling down in the chapel in the dark and praying, I sincerely sought God, saying, “God, if my sins are forgiven, just give me one word telling me that they are forgiven.” But I heard nothing. When I was suffering from sin, it would have been so great if God said to me, “Hey Ock Soo Park, I forgave all of your sins.” But I did not hear such a voice. The woman taken in adultery heard the voice of Jesus. What did Jesus say to the woman taken in adultery? “Neither do I condemn thee.” If Jesus does not condemn, doesn’t this mean that she has received the forgiveness of sins? I felt in my heart that she must have been so happy. She was thankful that she was delivered from death. Moreover, how thankful is it to be able to receive the eternal forgiveness of sins? I once read this story and thought in my heart, “I wish I could get caught in adultery and become like this woman.” When Jesus was being crucified, he said to one thief, “Today you will be with me in paradise.” Didn’t this thief go to heaven? I thought in my heart, “Even though I become crucified for robbing, I really envy this robber. I wish I, too, could go to heaven. The eternal world is after this temporary world. It’s so much better than going to hell.” I often had this kind of heart.
God Is Speaking These Words to Me!
I used to think that the words spoken to the thief, the words to the woman taken in adultery, and the words to the Samaritan woman had nothing to do with me. But one day while reading the Bible, I came to surely know that those words were spoken to me. I felt in my heart that if Jesus spoke those words to the woman taken in adultery, then this is not limited only to her but he has spoken those words to all who are like her. I was no better than the woman taken in the act of adultery. She committed adultery. I, too, can commit adultery anytime. I am a person who can commit more sins than she. Precisely put, I came to a clear conclusion that I was in no way better or cleaner than she. If I were the same as this woman taken in adultery, Jesus is speaking the same words to me as well. “If so, God is speaking these words to me!” That was how I accepted it in my heart. I prayed sincerely to directly hear the voice of God, but God did not let me hear His voice, but allowed me to know that the words recorded in the Bible are words spoken to me. Jesus was teaching at a certain house in Mark chapter 2. Four men carried over a paralytic but could not enter in because it was so crowded. They then tore open the roof and let him down on a bed. Right then, Jesus saw the paralytic and said, “Son, thy sins be forgiven thee.” I, at one time, became very surprised as I read these words. Jesus wants to say so many things to us, but he cannot say, “Ock Soo Park, I say unto you . . .” sticking in every single one of our names. If he were to input all the names of the people of the world, all the trailers in the world would not be enough to carry a Bible. Therefore the pronoun, “Son,” represents all of us. “Jesus said to the paralytic, ‘Son, thy sins be forgiven thee,’ but absolutely not to me.” I do not believe so at all. If Jesus said this to the paralytic, surely he has said the same to me. He wants to tell Elder Kim, Elder Lee, and Elder Doh of our church this, but he could not stick in every single name. Therefore, he used the name, “Son,” and spoke to us. Therefore, the “Son” surely represents me. The woman taken in adultery, the thief on the cross, and Zacchaeus all represent us. This is surely true. Thus, if Jesus tells me that he does not condemn me, then he does not. If he says that I have received the forgiveness of sins, then I have. If this is what Jesus says to me, there is nothing more I need to find other than these words.
This Punk! Your Mother will Die . . .
When I used to preach the gospel in the city of Gimcheon, a student named Seungman Bae attended my church. He was a middle school student, but he was extremely mature. Seungman received salvation, brought his siblings, brought his friends, and many people received salvation and attended church through his witnessing. It was a time when I was just starting the church in Gimcheon and there were not many people, so it was very nice to have many students attending. But one day, Seungman did not come to church. I asked, and he told me that his mother would not allow him to come. One afternoon, I visited Seungman’s home. It was just him and his mother. His mother was lying down and as soon as I entered, she turned toward the wall. She believed in fortunetellers and often went to have her fortune told and have exorcisms done. After one thing happened according to what the fortuneteller said, she became a complete believer of the fortuneteller. But once the fortuneteller said, “You will die because your son believes in Jesus.” She was shocked and gathered her children at home. “The fortuneteller says that I will die because you believe in Jesus. What the fortuneteller said last time came true, didn’t it? I can die, but how will you live if I die? So stop going to church from now on.” All the younger siblings said that they would not go to church upon hearing what their mother said, but Seungman would not answer. The mother had high hopes in her son, but was so disappointed that he was not answering. “You punk! He said your mother will die . . . . What a miserable punk you are!” From that point, the fight with her son began. On Sundays he would try to come to church and his mother would stop him . . . . Seungman would hide and sneak off to church, and the ladies of the neighborhood would tell his mother about it, making her very upset. When I went there Seungman’s mother was so angry that she was lying down, facing the other side, and not saying a word. I preached the word looking at her back then went out to put my shoes on. Then Seungman’s mother cursed at her son, saying, “You punk! Who told you to bring a man like him to our home?” She felt very bitter towards her son. “What in the world! His own mother is dying; does he mean that he’s happy that I’m dying?” She was so saddened and hated her son . . . . In the evening, Seungman’s father came home. The mother wanted to tell the father about all that had happened to make Seungman be in trouble, and she told him everything. But the father, upon hearing everything, suddenly said, “I am so sick and tired of living like this! Let’s all believe Jesus! Then couldn’t we live?” The children were also urging to do this and Seungman’s mother said, “I don’t know anymore! Fine, let’s believe Jesus!” Seungman was so happy, ran to me and said, “Minister, my mother says for you to come!” When I went to their home again, Seungman’s mother had her hair nicely done, dressed very nice, and was kneeling down to listen to the word. Next to her, Seungman’s father sat and all the younger siblings were there. That evening I preached the gospel. Just as the Samaritan woman spoke of the Jesus she met to the people of the village, just as John the Baptist introduced Jesus to the disciples, just as Andrew to Peter and Philip to Nathanael introduced Jesus, I spoke in detail about the process of how the blood of Jesus Christ forgave our sins, of how our dirty and deceitful sins became as white as snow. There is power in the name of Jesus. There is power inside of Jesus to take care of any problem. No matter what dirty sin, no matter what evil it may be, Jesus is the one with the power to cleanse them all. Because people do not know this, they try to wash their sins away; they try to become clean. But anyone who comes before Jesus has all of his sins washed clean. That evening, Seungman’s family did not do anything. They simply turned their hearts around, saying, “Yes, let’s believe Jesus!” and heard the gospel. While listening to the word, the whole family received salvation.
The Continual Works of Salvation
Recently I visited the United States. There were pretty rabbits playing in front of my son’s house. My son said, “Father, people here all put pesticides on their gardens, but we were too busy to do that, so all the rabbits come to our yard.” When I was young I raised rabbits as I grew up in the countryside. Rabbits have babies once a month; they multiply so well. Rabbits have 7-8 offspring at a time. So in one year, they have about 70-80 babies. Even though a tiger may consume hundreds of rabbits his whole life, it is amazing to see how rabbits, though many are consumed in significant numbers, are always multiplying while the tigers that are consuming are becoming more and more endangered. Rabbits are simple, weak, cowardly, and have no weapons to attack with. They run, then become bitten, torn, killed . . . . But in Korea, you can see rabbits no matter which mountain you go to. The world of the gospel is so amazing, because it multiplies even better than rabbits. The night I went to Seungman’s home, there was the precious work of a family receiving salvation. Seungman’s mother served demons, his father lived inside of sin, and they changed. They did nothing to be changed this way. They only received, by grace, the work Jesus did as their own. A while later, Seungman’s family called all of our church brothers and sisters to come over. They said they needed to have a party now because they used to always hold exorcisms but now they believe in Jesus. They had large pieces of red bean rice cake on the table and set up the table as if they were having a ceremony. That evening we ate so well. Seungman’s father spoke. “Minister, this is nothing compared to the exorcism ceremonies we used to have. Before, we spent a lot of money on exorcisms.” Seungman’s mother added, “My, I never told you, whenever we would have exorcisms, I would say it only cost $30 when it actually cost $50. Then I would have to somehow come up with $20. When it cost $30, I would say it only cost $20 and struggle to come up with $10 . . . .” I was so thankful to see Seungman’s mother being healed from her illness and living so healthy.
People Who Experienced Jesus
Jesus came to this earth to change our lives from darkness to light, from sin into righteousness. It is not through our effort that we become righteous and holy, but it is done through Jesus. People who experience Jesus preach the gospel without even knowing it. John the Baptist introduced Jesus to his disciples, Andrew to Peter, and Philip to Nathanael. In the same way, when we hear about Jesus and accept what he did for us, when we accept into our heart that our sins are forgiven, no matter who he is, he becomes one who introduces and testifies of Jesus.