The mile-long buffet of worldviews that I have in mind is the shelves of books at Barnes & Noble. But before I explain why that is relevant, first consider Jesus’ statement about why he was born, which he made when he was about to be executed.
Since Hebrews 2:14 says that the divine Son of God was born with a human nature so that “through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death,” it is not surprising that in the hour of his death he would speak about his reason for being born. Pilate is questioning him about his kingship, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth.”
There are layers of meaning in the phrase bear witness. It includes 1) speaking the truth of God as no man ever spoke; 2) being the truth of God in his person; 3) dying to establish the truth about God; and 4) sending us as the Father sent him to bear witness to the truth, both in speaking and dying.
1. Speaking the Truth
First, Jesus was born to speak the truth about God as no man every spoke. For example, he said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:58). That is one of the most important truths in the universe: Jesus, the historical man, is the pre-existent God. Not only does he say he existed before Abraham (two thousand years before he was born), but he also called himself “I am,” the name God had given himself in Exodus 3:14.
Then to make plain the significance of God becoming man, Jesus bore witness to the great work of salvation he would do. “The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins” (Matthew 26:28). “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him” (John 3:36). “Behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).
2. Being the Truth
Second, Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). Paul said, “the truth is in Jesus” (Ephesians 4:21), and “all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” are hidden in him (Colossians 2:3). This is why he was born—not only to speak the truth about God, but to embody the truth about God. We never know the truth aright when we do not know and love the Jesus Christ himself.
3. Dying to Establish the Truth
Third, not only was the Son of God born to bear witness to the truth by speaking the truth and being the truth, but also by dying to establish the truth. The Greek word for witness (martus) became the word for martyr because dying for what you stand for is the ultimate witness to it. So in Revelation, Jesus is called “The Amen, the faithful and true witness” (Revelation 3:14). This witness is thought of in terms of his death, resurrection, and reign as King of kings. For example, look at the sequence in Revelation 1:4-5, “Grace to you and peace from . . . Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth” (Revelation 1:4-5). Notice the order: first, death (faithful witness), then resurrection (firstborn from the dead), then rule over all kings. He was born to witness to truth in the greatness of the achievement of his death.
4. Sending Us to Witness to the Truth
Finally, he was born to bear witness to the truth, not just in the thirty-three years of his life on earth, but in all the time on earth till he comes again. That he is why he says, “As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you” (John 20:21). The church is called “a pillar and buttress of truth” (1 Timothy 3:15). The message we bring to the world is called “the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation” (Ephesians 1:13). And when judgment comes, the condemned will be those who “did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness” (2 Thessalonians 2:12).
So when Noël and I went to Barnes & Noble on Monday to buy a birthday present, I had my usual coldwater bath of awareness that there are thousands of voices competing to be heard by the world. Miles, it seems, of shelves with every imaginable worldview, all clamoring for the mind and the heart (and many other parts of the human body and soul). The God Delusion, You on a Diet, Jim Cramer’s Mad Money: Watch TV Get Rich, He-motions: Even Strong Men Struggle; The Machines of War—a tidal wave of titles.
So as we walked out, I said to Noël—as a kind of Christmas resolution—that makes me want to work around the clock for the rest of my life to spread the truth. Jesus was born for this. “For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth.” Let’s join him in it. Let’s make Bethlehem a living truth-spreading organism. And remember: We know no truth aright, if we do not know and love Christ himself as the ground of it and the goal of it and the way it looks in true life. So we exist to spread a passion for Christ, not just ideas about Christ. That’s more, not less.
He was born to bear witness to the truth. Let’s resolve this Christmas that we will live for this.
Devoted to spreading the Truth, with you,