Do You Now Believe?
This is one of the many hard hitting questions Jesus asked his disciples. This one comes in John 16 in the Upper Room. Jesus and His disciples were celebrating Passover (the event that would come to be known as the Last Supper) and Jesus had just poured out His heart to His disciples. He was telling them what would happen.
A little while and you will no longer see Me, again a little while and you will see Me.
This statement by Jesus thoroughly confused His disciples. They had no idea what he meant by this, and yet they didn’t want to admit their ignorance. So, they tried to figure it out on their own. Jesus, perceiving their confusion, not only told them what they were thinking but also began to answer their question. The disciples were amazed at this display from Jesus, and so they professed their belief in who He was. They were all in, or at least they thought they were. They probably thought that Jesus would approve of their statement of faith, yet He responded with a challenging and humbling question: ”Do you now believe?”
The disciples were amazed at the fact that Jesus read their minds and answered their question even though they hadn’t asked it. They thought Jesus was finally explaining Himself in a way they could fully understand. They thought they understood what Jesus had been explaining and they were ready for the kingdom to come.
But as much as the disciples thought they knew, their knowledge in some regards was still surface level. Jesus called their statement of faith into question immediately. Did they really believe; did they understand what it meant to truly believe? The disciples not only lacked a full understanding of what belief in Jesus truly meant, they were only hours away from deserting Him. These 11 men who had just sworn allegiance to Jesus, who had just stated they now knew who He was, were going to run away.
In their minds they may have thought they were going to be heroes or that they were going to fight along side Jesus. Yet, Jesus tells them that not one of them would remain with Him. They would all run away.
The disciples were likely shocked by this. They had probably been hoping for some kind of affirmation for their statement of faith, maybe something similar to what Jesus told Peter after he correctly identified Jesus (the part right before Peter then became the mouthpiece for the devil). Yet, instead, Jesus brings them back to earth, questions their beliefs, and then tells them they are moments away from deserting Him. I don’t think this is how they saw the evening going.
Why did Jesus do this to them? Why did he burst their bubble? Why did He tell them they were all about to fail Him and leave Him alone? He did this so that they could find peace in Him. Jesus knew they would run away. Jesus knew they were mere men. Jesus knew they were sinners and that they were far from perfect. Yet, knowing all of this, Jesus still chose them. Notice that Jesus didn’t tell them that after all this time together He had expected more out of them. No. He told them they would run away; yet, in spite of this, they could find peace in Him. Even though they would run away, He still loved them. He still chose them, and He would stay faithful to them. They weren’t going to overcome the world; He was. He didn’t need their help; they needed His. He told them all of this before it happened to show that even though He knew what they would do, He still loved them.
How does this apply to you and me? How many times have we cried out, “Now I believe!” or “Now I understand!” How many times do we allow ourselves to think we kind of have God figured out, that we know how He will work and who He is going to use. We should be excited as we grow in our faith. However, we need to watch out for the danger of focusing on our own understanding rather than focusing on the Son of God. Thankfully, anytime we get a little ahead of ourselves, Jesus puts us back in our place. It is not about us; it is about Him. The disciples did gain a new level of understanding when they proclaimed their belief in the upper room. However, they still had a long way to go, and Jesus made that very clear to them. The same is true for us. We will hit new levels of understanding God, and we should rejoice in that. Yet Jesus will remind us that there will still be struggle. And when we struggle or fail, our tendency will be to stay away from Jesus. However, when we fail, the worst thing we can do is stay away from Jesus. We need to return to Him, repent of our pride, and find peace in Him. He is faithful; He will not forsake us. In Him we can have peace.