Read: John 11:45-56
Jesus has just raised Lazarus from the dead, the Jewish people, at Mary and Martha’s house for the mourning time after the burial, saw what He did and believed in Him. This threatened the religious leaders of the time, and thinking they were saving the nation of Israel, they plotted to kill Jesus.
Witnessing a miracle- the people believed. These were the righteous, religious, pious, Hebrew people living everyday lives, as shepherds, fishermen, mothers and fathers- who had been waiting and praying for The Messiah for years. The miracle was uncontestable… the Truth could not be denied.
Clearly Jesus was the Son of God, the Messiah.
Being in the presence of Jesus and witnessing miracles always had the same impact – there those who saw and believed, and those who saw and still chose disbelief, or fear.
- Can you recall miracle you have seen god do? Signs of His handiwork, answered prayer? What was your response to witnessing these things?
Mark 9:24 – the father of a young boy who asks Jesus to heal his son. Jesus tells the boy’s father, “everything is possibly for one who believes.”
The father replies: “Lord I believe, help me in my unbelief.
Jesus didn’t rebuke the father, but went ahead and healed the boy.
- Do you ever feel this way?
I can relate to this man. I have seen God to miracles in my life, in the lives of others and still there are times, I too cry out… Lord, I believe, help me in my unbelief.
I have questions, things I don’t understand, suffering in the world that doesn’t make sense, yes, even doubts at times. But like the Psalmist, I can end each prayer with the determination and verbal confirmation that God is good and I believe in Him… even asking for help in my unbelief.
belief (pisteuo)- entrust, has faith, credit with confidence, rely on, give credence to, “a conviction and trust to which a man is impelled by an inner prerogative and law of his soul”
unbelief (apistia) – in need of faith, not persuaded, distrust, even with a nuance of stubbornly clinging to doubt.
Jesus doesn’t scold or condemn the father for this statement; it is an honest statement about his heart and his will.
Belief is a choice, it is not always a feeling- often it is an assent of will.
- Can you relate?
When we encounter Jesus we too can make a choice. There are many who have seen miracles, seen God’s handiwork, been in God’s presence and still do not believe that Jesus as the Messiah.
This battle is ongoing until Christ comes again. The enemy wants to blind the eyes of men and women to God’s goodness and miracles in the world, or accuse God of not being good in the face of suffering.
Unbelief makes sense. We can wrap our mind around the reasons not to believe.
But Belief doesn’t make sense to our limited minds and understanding.
Belief requires faith!
Faith is a decision.
We are saved by our faith, our belief in Jesus as the Son of God, Savior Messiah.
We can be sure of this TRUTH- okay, we have Heaven and eternity covered- but what about all the questions and doubts we have about God’s work in our lives, His Goodness, His silence when we Pray, His tarrying to answer?
I think God understands our struggle with the realities of this world and how they can bring us to say, “Lord I believe, help me in my unbelief.”
There are countless Psalms where David expresses his doubts, questions – each time David concludes that God is good, worthy of praise, simply because He is God. I find great comfort in this honesty and the fact that David wrestled with God and the realities of his world. It wasn’t neat, clean, simple or easy.
A crowd witnessed Lazarus raised from the dead, for some of them it was the third time they had witnessed it, (Jairus’ daughter: Mark 5:21-43, the widows son: Luke 7: 11-17) but THIS time, Lazarus was “really dead” as Jesus waited 4 days after Lazarus dies. There was no doubting or denying the miracle, this time.
Some believed- many in fact it says, but some went to the Pharisees, the religious leaders, afraid of what they had seen, and couldn’t understand.
- What happens to your faith in the face of things you don’t understand, fear, or questions?
- Can you cling to your belief and simultaneously be honest with God about the wresting in your heart?
I think God longs for us to do this. He desires relationship with us, whatever that may look like at any given time… because the fact that we are engaging with Him, is a sign of our belief!
Read the accounts of the other two times Jesus raised people from the dead. Note the response of the disciples and the crowd, as well as the religious leaders.
- Jairus’ daughter: Mark 5:21-43
- the widows son: Luke 7: 11-17
Read Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary on John 11
Daily Lectionary Readings:
Ezekiel 37:21-28; Jeremiah 31; John 11:45-56
If you want to read through the New Testament during Lent (about 1/2 hour a day)
Read on Day 39: Hebrews 8-end