faith_vs_unbelief

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!

 

Digging Deeper:

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

 

8 Responses to “day 39- Lenten Journey: John 11:45-56”

  1. Shanna Moss

    How timely this is in the face of so many illnesses in our family. Just the other day, our youngest asked, “Why me?” After my battles and miracles, I could give him my testimony, but this lesson will help us walk through this question with more depth. Thanks, Susie!

    Reply
    • Susie

      I have learned that struggles bring us closer to God if we let them. Jesus knows our suffering and has experienced it Himself… I pray you find strength and comfort in Him.

      Reply
      • Linda Carducci

        Grace will keep sorrow from the heart, but not from the house.
        from the suggested Commentary on John 11.
        This spoke to me as not only lyrical, but certainly truth. We are none of us promised a life without sorrow; instead, we are promised the grace to truly live through it and stay in faith. What a great lesson to learn early: it will be OK.

        Reply
  2. Linda Carducci

    Such fickle folks we can be. Such fear that drives our faith far from our minds and settles in our hearts. It is beyond my understanding that one can witness the miracle of everyday lives, much less the raising of the dead and not believe with every fiber of our being. To be fearful when the truth of resurrection surrounds us is strange and baffling.
    Conception, birth, life itself unfolding in all its complexity screams of resurrection, restoration and redemption. And, in spite of our very best efforts, we cannot grasp it intellectually. There is always the place where we much step out in faith because the understanding isn’t given us in full in this life. The promise of understanding is given us, but to accept and live into that promise requires a fearsome amount of faith.

    Reply
    • Susie

      have you thought about writing… you are a wordsmith! I always enjoy and appreciate your insights Linda! Thank you.

      Reply
      • Linda Carducci

        Thanks, Susie. Ironically, my first wish was to be a singer, then a writer, then a teacher. I found I wasn’t driven enough to pursue singing as a profession and was encouraged to pursue teaching rather than writing because it was a ‘sure thing’. The books that were being written in my heart and head have been waiting for what I labeled maturity, but now know to be authenticity, a place of truth.
        I am working on moving these stories, thoughts and perceptions from my heart and head onto paper.

        Reply
        • Susie

          you are gifted…
          it will be fun to see and read when you are ready to write. In the meantime, your comments, insights and responses are a blessing.

          Reply

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