When We Know More Than We Believe
Jeff LyleCrosswalk.com blogspot for Jeff Lyle of TransformingTruth
- 2015 Jul 21
You likely would not be reading these words in on this website if you did not have some degree of faith in Jesus. Faith is a response to God’s gracious communication to you, trusting as He is sharing His truth about His heart, His will, His love and His Son. Faith looks to the Lord and says, “I really believe you.” Faith is always, on some level, objective: we are trusting in who God is, what God says or both of these things. I love theology because it is the objective understanding of God and His revelation. Theology is essential and that is one of the reasons why we responded in obedience to God as, more than a decade ago, He led us to begin a ministry called Transforming Truth. Theology is of prime importance…but let me assert that good theology does not necessarily mean devoted trust.
“Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24 Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” – John 11:23-26
Martha’s brother died and Jesus did not stop it from happening. He allowed pain and loss to come to a woman who was His friend. Earlier in the chapter we read that He purposefully delayed His response to Martha’s request for Him to come. He waited until the situation was as bleak as it could be. Then He showed up. Lazarus was already dead for days when Jesus finally arrived in Bethany where two grieving sisters wondered why He had not arrived on time. Sounds like me sometimes when Jesus does not endorse my plan or affirm my prayer. It might sound like you when you think that Jesus showed up tardy (or not at all) in your life.
The Savior bluntly tells Martha that Lazarus will be raised from the dead. Martha responds with some pretty good theology, referencing the Jewish belief that the resurrection of the justified would reunite Lazarus with the world of the living. Jesus then moves the issue at hand from the theological to the practical and therelational. He makes it all about Him and Martha; Lazarus becomes the object lesson. When He tells Martha that He, Himself, is the resurrection He is moving her from the world of theological certainty to the more profound world of personal trust. He does not address what she says that she knows but, instead, Jesus asks her about what she believes.
“Do you believe this, Martha? Do you believe that I am the resurrection, the present and personal reality of your theology?”
Martha graduated a little further in her faith-journey that afternoon in Bethany. Before Jesus raised Lazarus from the tomb and presented him back to his family, He took time to gently confront a bewildered and grieving woman about what she thought of Him. Jesus does something similar with all of us who have begun to follow Him. He won’t allow us to hide out in our theology. The Son of God did not come to leave us in a one-dimensional understanding of Him. He wants to migrate our minds from merely trusting in words about Him and train us to go more deeply into Him, believing in His goodness and power in spite of all we might be experiencing. This is necessary training ground for you. Sometimes we do not believe until we bleed. We can know theology without a hint of struggle, but we cannot know Jesus apart from coming to the moments of life which reduce us to helplessness and need. This is the way of the Master. This is our way to believe Him, to trust Him, to surrender to Him.
I want good, robust theology. But I do not want it apart from believing Jesus. I want sound Bible doctrine. But I don’t want my experience with Jesus to limited to words that I read with my eyes, interpret with my brain and speak with my mouth. Knowing is good, but knowing is not the same as believing. Martha knew, but Martha did not believe until everything fell apart. In the funeral attire of a grieving sister, Martha came to believe Jesus. Theology turned into hope and trust.
May all of us be entrusted with the back end of theology which is heartfelt confidence in Jesus Christ, God’s Son…and your Savior.