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Actions Speak Louder Than Words

April 16, 2018

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us . . . Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth . . . (1 John 3: 16, 18)[1]

When you love someone, and they love you, you act like it. You spend time with the person. You enjoy talking to the person. You share interests. You enjoy each other’s company. You do things for each other. You take care of each other. You watch out for each other. The actions of our loved ones speak louder than their words.

A person hired to care for you is likely to cut and run when his or her life is threatened, but a person who loves you will stay by you to protect you. That is what Jesus told the crowd when he said “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep (John 10: 11-14). Actions speak louder than words.

Jesus set the example for his disciples.  He faced his crucifixion with great courage and knowledge of the suffering he would face—but he knew the ultimate outcome.  He knew that he would be resurrected: “The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again” (John 10:17).  His example gave the disciples the knowledge and the courage they needed to go forward boldly with their teaching and preaching of the gospel. Jesus had promised to send his Spirit to be with them to help them, and he had also promised them eternal life.  They had been eyewitnesses to Jesus’ resurrection, which gave them the courage to go forward.  Actions speak louder than words.

The words Jesus spoke to his disciples during his three-year ministry spoke pages, but his resurrection spoke volumes.  It was his actions that finally convinced the disciples of his authenticity, power, and his love for mankind. John explains “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us . . . Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth . . . And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. The one who keeps God’s commands lives in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.”” (1 John 3: 16, 18, 23-24).  Jesus came back and visited them after his death on the cross.   They saw that he lived. He ate and drank with them. They touched him. He gave them a 40-day crash course on discipleship. He encouraged, emboldened, and empowered them to go forward into the world to preach the gospel.

The book of Acts is called “Acts”of the Apostles, not “Words” of the Apostles.   Peter and John preached to the crowds and “many who heard the message believed; so the number of men who believed grew to about five thousand” (Acts 4: 4).  Even after he was interrogated, Peter was bold to declare to the rulers, elders, and high priest: “It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that his man stands before you healed” (Acts 10).

Jesus’ example enabled them to put David’s words into action: “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” (Psalm 23: 4-6).

We who have been handed all of the eyewitness accounts in Scripture, as well as corroborating archeological, historical, scientific, logical, and other proofs of Jesus’ death and resurrection, can also move forward with great confidence that the God who sent his Son to lay down his life for us, loves us more fiercely than a parent loves his or her child, and will protect and care for us now and forever.  He will give you the courage to go forward that he gave his disciples.

God acted.  The apostles acted. Will you?

Diane Cieslikowski Reagan

[1] The Scripture texts for the Fourth Sunday of Easter are Acts 4: 1-12; Psalm 23; 1 John 3: 16-24; John 10: 11-18.

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