“Then went in also that other disciple, which came first to the sepulchre, and he saw, and believed.” John 20:8
I wish I had been there on that day. Imagine running to the tomb because Mary had just told you that Jesus’ body was gone. I wonder if I would have run straight inside? I wonder if I would have been weeping and wondering who had stolen my Jesus? I wonder if I would have stopped at the door and taken it all in. I wonder if I would have just stopped instead of rushing into my emotions, if I would have given You, Lord, a chance to make sense of it all in me?
I think that’s what happened to this “other disciple.” Well, let’s just assume this disciple is John. He doesn’t enter the tomb right away. He stops and looks. He stops and thinks. Which seems pretty consistent with John’s character. I think he was probably an introvert, someone who usually took the time to think “deep thoughts” about things. I think he took time to appreciate a person’s presence or maybe even the feeling of things and the sights and the little things. I think he watched people’s behavior and listened and just held onto those thoughts and ran them around in his head to get the feel and flavor of them.
And here he is standing, and looking, and thinking, and letting it all roll around, and taking it all in. And boom! It congeals into one glorious, clear mass all in one instant! He saw the physical, he saw the evidence left behind, it all came together, and he believed. What a spectacular moment in time! “How precious did that grace appear, the hour I first believed!” (Amazing Grace) Now this Greek word used here is “eidos” and it means to see like seeing the form of something with your eyes. But what he saw lead him to believe.
What John saw at that moment became his support, became all that his life was built upon. This “believe” is from the Greek word “pisteuo” and it’s parallel is the Hebrew word “aman”. Looking at it’s Hebrew origin and the forms used shows us better what believing entails. It’s the idea of “a nail supporting a door and of someone nursing a child. We see both the firmness and strength coupled with the need for ongoing persistence (or faithfulness)…One should be supported, established, or verified…The effect of this steadfast reliability and support is that one considers something steadfast, reliable, and supportive…” (D.A. Bayliss) “Pisteuo” is putting action and response to “the conviction of truth of something” or “putting the flesh on” our trust. It’s the actual truth of our “persuasion.” It’s our response to “Truth.” And at this moment, all truth came together for John, he believed all that Jesus had said and all that Jesus was and it became his Truth and he came to rely upon that Truth.
So, what is the truth, because the next verse seems to confuse things? “For as yet they knew not the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead.” But John just saw and he believed. How could he believe without understanding? And I wonder if “oudepo”, “as yet” could be translated “up until now” it hadn’t all come together for them. Now, it just came together for John. Now, it was still coming together for Peter. Which is important to realize because it doesn’t all come together for us at the same moment or in the same way. But there must be a moment when it all comes together, when we truly believe.
It’s interesting that in Hebrews 11:1 Paul says, “Now faith (“pistis”-the root of “pisteuo”) is the substance (the concrete essence) of things hoped for (things expected from what was confided to us by Christ!), the evidence (the proof!) of things not seen.” Now, John’s faith came when He witnessed this concrete proof of the truth of Christ’s words by the absence of what he saw! What was the thing not seen? Jesus! Faith was trusting in the truth of the concrete fact that You were not there, You could no longer be seen because You had risen! At that moment, John understood that You were not there because You were True, You were all that You said. It was all true. And at that moment of realization, he committed his life to You and His life was changed.
Now let’s look at Hebrews 11:6. “But without faith (without being persuaded of the Truth of Christ and the necessity of Him for everything) it is impossible to please Him: for he that cometh to God (the one that surrenders, commits, assents to God) must believe that He is (must not just know but act upon that knowing by entrusting one’s spiritual and physical well-being in Him, the Way, the Truth, and the Life), and that He is a rewarder (that He is Faithfulness Himself to us) of them that diligently seek Him (the ones who crave after Him for life, who have made their whole lives, thoughts, and actions an act of worship devoted and placed in Him).
How can I read Hebrews 11 without seeing this truth in action. Men of old believed and it was evidenced by their unworldy reactions to follow God beyond human response. Faith was never a belief or a thought. Faith is always an utter dependence and reliance on the God who alone is faithful. He alone is able to perform all He has declared. He is a God of action. All His Words are Living and Active. And this is what each of us is called to, life in Christ, life in action, Christ in action.
I had gathered definitions of some of these Greek words to use, but I think the Lord has already hit on the point. And I’d like to share this quote because I think it helps to define that first step of action we must each take in Christ. Roy G. Pittman stopped to meditate on these verses also, way before I ever did. But I didn’t know he had until the Lord stopped me on these same words today. And except for this common thought, our paths wouldn’t have ever crossed. But today, they did. Here are his thoughts.
“It is indicated the other disciple who outran Peter to the tomb believed at that very moment Jesus Christ had been resurrected by God. Contextually, it was not just a casual belief the disciple experienced, but a life-altering belief, a belief which forever changed not only his life but his beliefs related to his world, his beliefs of God, his beliefs in Jesus Christ, and his experiences with his friends, enemies, and any other person who entered his sphere of influence. Why? Because that disciple not only believed at that very moment Jesus Christ was the Messiah, but that Jesus had actually died for the sin of all mankind,…which include[d] himself.” He believed that Jesus was always true, that He was the Way, the Truth, and the Life. He believed that Jesus was Trustworthy, that He could place all his welfare in the life of the One Who Is True Forever.
I’m excited when I jump to the disciples waiting in the upper room together. I think the belief of John and Mary has caught everyone up in the excitement that their Jesus is not dead! And different ones came to the realization each in their own moment. And some struggled with it more than others. Like Thomas, who was guarded against their words and wanted to experience for himself. And, You, Lord, loved Him so much that You allowed him to see and touch You. And I hear Your words, “because you have seen Me, you have believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.”
Maybe that’s what holds us back so much from believing. Maybe we are looking too much to the physical. Maybe we need to start looking in a different way. Maybe we need to look at what You promise in You and who You promise to be to us. Maybe we have started looking so intently on what we thing You will give us through Your promises that we miss out on looking at You and who You are. Because if I know You, if I am relying on You, everything else pales in comparison.
Faith isn’t trusting in Your promises. Faith is trusting in You. Faith is realizing who You are and placing all of my reality, all of my life, all of my everything in You because You are It. So, what will I do with You? What will you do with Him? If you are standing at the door, gazing in, will you let it all come together? Are you going to take the step to walk out believing? Because I choose to believe, to live by acting on all that I know that You are and all that I come to experience that You are, Jesus. I came into the tomb unbelieving, but I walked out believing. It takes me to Revelation 3:20 where You say, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with Me.” You are beckoning, You are bringing all things together, but I must take that step. I must act upon that call, upon that belief. I must open the door. I must take the step to fully open it, not just partway. I must let You all the way in and not just let your foot in the door. I must take every effort, whatever the cost, to open the door fully and complete that process, whatever is necessary to do so. Have I done that? Have I flung the door wide open to You? Because then, and only then will You come in to me. Then and only then will You be my Personal God who spends intimate time with me continually. Then and only then will I be with You throughout eternity. What will I do? Will I enter in? Have I entered in? I know my answer. I’m in. What about you?