“Do not disbelieve, but believe.” The words that the risen Christ spoke to Thomas so often speak to me — the simplicity, the truth, the conviction, the encouragement.
Yesterday was a day when everything I did seemed to be born from disbelief, a lack of faith. Jesus’ words helped me to confess and seek reconciliation with the God I love and yet so often refuse to BELIEVE in the midst of stress and worry.
Again: “Do not disbelieve, but believe.”
In response, Thomas answered, “My Lord and my God!” This is my answer, too. I can’t make up for yesterday; I can only turn to my Lord and my God to forgive, cleanse, restore.
“Do you want to be healed?” (v. 6)
This Jesus asked the paralyzed man outside the pool of Bethesda — a man who suffered for nearly four decades, without a friend to carry him to the water. He certainly had a need to be healed. But the question posed here is one of DESIRE, and the answer reveals the stark difference between belief and unbelief.
Already at this point in John’s gospel there’s a division between those who desire healing and salvation, and those who don’t. Elsewhere in the gospels, when the Pharisees criticize Jesus for spending time with sinners, Jesus reminds them that only those who are sick need a physician. Those who are “well,” who don’t acknowledge their need, don’t desire a savior.
But for those who do, Jesus satisfies that desire with his own desire to heal and to save. That’s the relationship Jesus has with his people; our desires and his are fulfilled in the wondrous work of salvation.
If the marks of true belief are NEED and DESIRE, then may my answer to Jesus’ question ever and always be “Yes!”
Much like the wedding miracle in Cana, Jesus often worked behind the scenes and purposely far away from those in power. At the faintest whiff of fame, he snuck away to — of all places — Samaria. And there takes place one of my favorite encounters with a sinner, the woman at the well, whose sexual sins, like mine, Jesus knew well, yet he dealt with her so gently. In the end, her testimony of Christ caused many other Samaritans to believe.
Soon after, Jesus offers himself again to the Gentiles with the healing of an official’s son, which also results in belief and salvation. Unlike the Messiah people expected, Jesus performed his miracles in small circles of poor, sick, needy, and unexpected people.
This is good news for those who feel they can’t approach Jesus. His actions in John 4 and throughout the gospels prove his heart is soft toward sinners who know their need for him — and his love is greater than their sin. As A.W. Tozer said, “Jesus Christ knows the worst about you. Nonetheless, He is the one who loves you most.”