John 2:11 (ESV)
This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him.
In the Gospel of John, the call to believe in Jesus is not a simple one-time decision or event that immediately converts an unbelieving heart into a believing one, but rather it’s a lifetime process of increasing belief that Jesus is indeed who he claims to be, the Messiah, the Son of God, one with the Father.
In John 2, after Jesus turns water into wine at a wedding, John writes in verse 11, “This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana of Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him.” According to John, from the very beginning of Jesus’ ministry, his disciples believed in him. However, what exactly about Jesus did they believe in? John doesn’t say, he simply says that they believed in him.
In John 11:14, Jesus tells his disciples that Lazarus has died and he says in verse 15, “and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe.” Wait a second, didn’t the disciples already believe in Jesus? Of course they believed in Jesus because that’s what it says in John 2:11, but apparently what they believed about Jesus in John 2 needed to grow in depth and conviction.
In John 13, Jesus is having his last Passover meal with his disciples the night before he is crucified and he begins to tell them that one of them will betray him. Then in verse 19 he says, “I am telling you this now, before it takes place, that when it does take place you may believe that I am he.” Again, Jesus alludes to the fact that their belief in him was still lacking but this time he specifies what they needed to truly believe. Jesus tells them that they needed to believe that “I am he”. Yes they believed in Jesus but they still needed to fully believe that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of God, one with the Father.
If you continue to read Jesus’ final discourse with his disciples in John 14-16, you’ll find that Jesus continues to challenge and exhort his disciples to whole-heartedly believe in and obey all the things he has taught them and in all the miraculous signs that confirm the truth of his teaching and the reality that he and Father are one. When you realize how often Jesus calls his disciples to truly believe that he is the Messiah, the Son of God, the Word who was with God in the beginning and through whom all things were made, you begin to realize what a monumental work of God it takes to move a person to truly believe in Jesus. To come to fully believe in Jesus is definitely not a quick and easy one-time decision. Rather it’s a lifelong process, especially through seasons of suffering and pain, of daily choosing to believe that Jesus is who he claims to be and lovingly obeying his ways.
Seeing that belief in Jesus is not a static one-time decision that happens in your life, let’s continue to ask the Lord to grow and increase our belief in him as God Almighty, the Maker of all things. Let us look carefully at our lives and see if how we live, how we treat people, how we spend our money and what we invest of time and energy into reflects our stated belief in who we say Jesus is.
Just as Jesus did not settle for a shallow belief in him from his disciples, so he will not settle for an incomplete belief in us. Rest assured that he will continue to challenge the authenticity of your belief in him in order to draw you into a deeper and fuller conviction of trust in who he truly is.
Praise be to the one who is the Author and Perfecter of our faith.