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There are three times in John’s Gospel were we read of Jesus explaining why it will be hard for someone to believe. As John tells us the story of Jesus, believing is not simply “getting saved” (although it might include that) but believing is about living in a dependent relationship of trust with Jesus. (Something that might get explored in future posts.)

Life is lived with Jesus “in faith” (the same Greek word is the basis for the English words “faith” and “believe/belief” in most Bibles). We enjoy this relationship with Jesus in our believing. But there are things that can hinder this dependence, this believing. And Jesus mentions three.

Jesus said, “If I told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things?” (John 3:12)

This statement comes up in Jesus’ conversation with a Jewish religious leader named Nicodemus. He is explaining to Nicodemus that he needs a change in soul to genuinely experience life–he needs to be “born again.” Nicodemus is struggling to make sense of what Jesus is saying, questioning Jesus’ statements. Jesus uses a very natural illustration to make his point, and Nicodemus still seems resistant. And this prompts Jesus’ remark.

What point is Jesus making?

If we don’t take Jesus at his word, we will find it difficult to believe him, to trust him, to rely on him.

Jesus said, “How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and you do not seek the glory that is from the one and only God?” (John 5:44)

Jesus makes this remark in the midst of a dialogue with some religious leaders. They are struggling with making sense of Jesus and his ministry. He seems to be at odds with how they would want things done. He doesn’t seem to be willing to play according to their rules. They are unwilling to entrust themselves to him and to his words. And this prompts Jesus’ remark.

What point is Jesus making?

If we care more about what others think of us (longing for the “glory” they can bestow on us) than God’s glory, we will find it difficult to believe Jesus, to trust him, to rely on him.

Jesus said, “But if you do not believe [Moses’] writings, how will you believe My words?” (John 5:47)

This comment comes in the same conversation Jesus was having with the religious leaders as the previous remark. These religious leaders are resisting Jesus’ instruction, reluctant to entrust themselves to Jesus, and have no real interest in trusting Jesus. They wanted to hold themselves up as students of the Scripture, but they weren’t even willing to rely on those writings for the kind of spiritual direction they needed. And this prompts Jesus’ remark.

What point is Jesus making?

If we are not willing to let the Scriptures speak into our lives and direct our thinking, we will find it difficult to believe Jesus, to trust him, to rely on him.

I really do want to live in a dependent, faith-shaped relationship with Jesus. For me to live in that well, must learn to take Jesus at his word, privilege what he thinks about me over what others may think, and allow the Scriptures to speak into my life and direct my thinking. With those obstacles out of the way, living a “believing life” will come easier.



    • Vittoria Colonna
    • Posted February 21, 2012 at 4:31 pm
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    A good and timely reminder!
    Depending on/in what HE sees and says!

  1. Thanks. You are right about depending on what he sees and says. To believe–to rest in dependence and delight in Jesus–we will have to look to him, know him. What he says, how he thinks about what matters, what the Scriptures say about him seem to be the way to look at him, know him.

  2. I wonder, if it is not just “getting saved” that makes a relationship, dosn’t that at least start the potential for one? If trusting him is really what it is all about, seems like that is a lot harder. There are times when I think I am trusting, believeing and depending and other times when I am sure that is not the case. I hope you are not suggesting that only when we get that right, we are in a proper relationship with him, that would be kinda scary. I have always sort of rested in the thought that Jesus was working out this relationship with me and would bring me to a place where I am in right relationship with him and that it wasn’t up to me to accomplish this through something I do. Maybe I am misunderstanding your point?

  3. Barb, what I meant by “believing” being more than just “getting saved” is that our how relationship with Jesus is a journey in believing/trusting/relying on him. Some seem to think that “I believed when I got saved” rather than seeing believing as the way to continue to experience life with Jesus. Yes, of course, the “getting saved” is what inaugurates the relationship. But I want to grow in that! (As I know you do!) And, yes, at times my “believing” is up and other times I’m not believing as much. So what can help me keep on growing in the believing? That was part of what I was thinking about in this post–the obstacles to continuing to trust, growing deeper in dependence, etc. I would rest in the thought that Jesus was working out this relationship we have with him . . . but taking him at his word, letting his opinion matter most, and allowing the Scriptures to serve us well in point us to him will help deepen and enrich our life of “believing.”

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