Have you ever had “one of those days” when you look over your spiritual life or a certain situation and think, “man, I should be doing better than this?” Or maybe you think, “it feels like my faith should be stronger than this?” Or maybe you’ve explained some Gospel truth to someone over and over and they just don’t get it, making you feel inadequate and defeated? I have.
I often feel as though my understanding should be far better than it is, my faith far stronger than I find it, or my presentation better than it was. But when I really stop and reflect on the story in John 20 about the resurrection of Jesus, I feel much better.
As a side note, one reason I love this story is when Peter and John heard about the empty tomb they took off in a sprint … and John was first to get there. He was younger and obviously faster. I get this hilarious mental image of John taking off like a bolt of lightening and Peter sort of half running, half stumbling, yelling at John, “Hey, WAIT UP!” … I digress.
In John’s account (John 20:8-9), look at what John says happened to them when they saw the empty tomb. At this point in the story, Peter had already entered the tomb and John followed [emphasis mine]:
The other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, then also went in, saw, and believed. 9 For they did not yet understand the Scripture that he must rise from the dead.
Wait a second … you mean to tell me John and Peter didn’t believe until they saw the empty tomb? They didn’t “understand the scripture”? What? Think about that for a minute the next time you start shaming yourself because you don’t seem to be “getting it” or you feel as though you didn’t communicate well enough so others would get it.
They had walked, talked, eaten meals, and lived their lives with the Creator of the Universe for THREE YEARS!
They saw Him feed 5000+ from a boy’s lunch. They saw Him heal blind men. They saw Him put Malchus’ ear back on, and they saw Jesus call Lazarus from the grave after four days! They had seen some seriously powerful stuff … and yet … and yet they lacked understanding of the scripture that he must rise from the dead. Wow!
It wasn’t until they saw the emptiness of the tomb, until they saw the fulfillment of the resurrection power He came to exercise, it wasn’t until they saw and understood the resurrection that they finally believed.
And they weren’t alone.
Mary Magdalene was crying outside the tomb then stooped in and saw the linens. We know from what she said to Jesus that she, too, was still in disbelief, asking Jesus (thinking He was the gardener) if He had moved the body … she still didn’t get it.
Until He spoke. In verse 16 He simply says, “Mary.”
That’s when Mary lost it. She grabbed Him and He had to tell her to let go, and go get the boys. (my paraphrase)
Here’s what gets me. They had actually SEEN the crucifixion. They really did believe in it well enough. They knew He was dead. They helped wrap His lifeless body. They helped put Him in the tomb .. and yet … they still didn’t believe and understand.
Or at least their belief was incomplete. Incomplete until they saw and believed in the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.
Even still, Thomas doubted. Don’t think for a moment that we need to see more miracles to believe. These people had seen it all. And yet … their belief was incomplete.
But when Thomas touched the nail prints, when he touched His side … he had only one response, “My Lord and my God!”
Fast forward … when the Spirit fell at Pentecost, this new belief was infused with POWER; with a power transcending anything they (or we) could possibly imagine … and THEN they changed the world. Then they altered the eternal history of humanity as Jesus initiates the birth of the church by way of the Holy Spirit through them.
So, the next time you feel like your faith is waning, or the next time you feel like you simply aren’t doing a good enough job because people aren’t “getting it”, remember, the disciples walked with Jesus Himself and still didn’t believe …
… until … until they realized the truth, hope, and power of the resurrection. I pray He speaks to you as He did Mary because His sheep hear His voice, Then they Believe …