Sermon Summary: John 20:24-31
John tells us here that the whole purpose of his Gospel is that we might believe that Jesus is the Son of God. So what does that mean? Although there are many ideas about what faith in Jesus means, to believe in him really means to place our trust in Jesus the same way we might place our trust in any person. The only difference comes from who Jesus is. Unlike other people we might put our trust in, Jesus is God and therefore we have to believe what he says about himself and all that goes with that. This understanding of what it means to believe in Jesus helps us to understand just what faith means:
- Faith In Jesus doesn’t mean a lack of doubt. By trusting in Jesus as a person, it gives us the security to admit our doubts without it threatening our faith. Thomas is a perfect illustration of this, despite his doubt, Jesus graciously met him in his unbelief. A faith where we have to pretend we don’t have doubts is destructive, dishonest and unpersuasive to others. Doubts don’t make us bad Christians nor do they stop God from acting in our lives. As we wrestle with doubt honestly , God’s faithfulness gradually gives us greater and greater certainty.
- Faith In Christ doesn’t mean blind faith. Often faith is caricatured as irrational or unthinking, and sometimes you even hear Christians saying that faith in Jesus isn’t logical, but a leap of faith. In contrast, John has taken great care to show us how Jesus makes sense of everything. Faith in God is never irrational, but because he is God it may mean that he asks us to trust him about things that we cannot understand yet. Understanding that this submission comes from humility rather than blind faith is especially important when we are accused of being bigoted or narrow-minded because God’s Word differs with the surrounding culture.
- Faith in Christ doesn’t mean just believing the right things. Because faith in Jesus is personal faith in him, that means a person can be a Christian without understanding every aspect of their faith. We see this with the thief on the cross who believes in Jesus and is saved. But, true faith in Jesus will always lead to a correct understanding in the end.
- Faith in Christ doesn’t mean doing the right things. Rather, because our faith is in Jesus as a person it means that we desire to understand his will and obey him more and more.
- Love for Jesus makes faith certain. When we see and understand who God shows himself to be at the cross we see that Jesus is so beautiful, so worthy of our love, that no matter what doubts may assail us, how much he asks us to trust him, how imperfect our knowledge or obedience, we want it to be true. That is the faith that truly lasts. Thus, the best way we can increase not by getting rid of doubt, learning more or obeying more but by learning to love Jesus for who he is.
- Baptism is the way we say we believe in him. Because believing in Jesus is putting your trust in a person, Jesus gave us a way of saying that we believe in him that reflects that, baptism. Just like when we get married we give ourselves completely to a person, baptism enables us to bind ourselves to Jesus, despite our doubts, despite the fact that we don’t know or understand everything and despite the fact that we can’t obey him perfectly. In baptism we say, “I have seen enough to give my life to you, Lord Jesus, whatever that will mean.”