John 20, The Call to Believe
“Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe…” ~ John 20:30-31
Take some time to read John 20 in its entirety. What do you see? What words or phrases stand out to you as important markers to understanding what you read? How is Jesus calling you as you read?
John 20 is a flurry of activity that is set in motion by a woman in mourning. The stone has been rolled away. Something purposeful has happened. Tomb stones of this size are not simply moved. The dead are not to be disturbed. Mary breaks into a run. Confusion and shock cause us to run; run to make sense, run to alert others. As the news reaches the ears of Peter and John, two of Jesus’ closest friends, a footrace between the two ensues. They are met by an empty tomb and the vacated linens of Jesus. John tells us they “saw and believed,” Jesus’ words now coming into sharper focus that he must rise from the dead. Then, they went to their homes. Mary stayed behind, weeping. Jesus draws near. “Whom are you seeking?” As she answers, the true Light dawns on her, and all she can say is, “I have seen the Lord.”
Belief is the theme of this chapter. As Jesus appears, he brings greetings of peace, though the wounds of violence in his hands and side are still fresh. Even the one we often call “Doubting Thomas” is given a visceral invitation to believe. “Put your finger here…place your hand in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” To touch wounds was to make oneself unclean, but Jesus has made the unclean clean; the purification laws having passed away with his coming, his life, his sacrificial death and his miraculous resurrection.
“Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” That’s me and you. We are called to believe by faith and not by sight. We don’t have the luxury or putting our finger in his hands or our hand in his side, nor do we need it. Faith comes by hearing the Word of God. Faith is nourished by reading and asking the Lord for understanding. John, in a summary statement at the end of the chapter tells us as much. Jesus did many “signs” in the presence of John and the other disciples. So many signs in fact, that they are not written in John’s account. But, as John concludes, “these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” (John 20:30-31).
Life in his name is the result of belief. Friends, in this season of uncertainty and quarantine, we who are in Christ have life in his name. Though we are isolated from one another, we are together as his Body. Though we are hemmed in on every side by disease, the death of friends and a stuttering economy, we have the sure and certain hope of a resurrected Savior. The disciples and Mary and the others thought it was over. They mourned for their friend and teacher, but Jesus revealed himself to them, addressing their grief and fear head on. He does and will continue to do the same for you and me, though the mountains give way, though the earth reel and rock, our firm foundation in Christ will not be shaken. He is risen! He is risen, indeed!