Friday, November 8, 2013

Believing There's More To the Story

Have you ever followed Jesus wholeheartedly into something that made no sense at all?   
A job?  A relationship?  A decision?  Or even a physical place?

Me, too.

Have you ever wondered why He led you there?  Have you ever questioned what exactly He was up to?

Yeah, I have, too.

When Jesus asks us to follow Him, it isn’t an invitation to the easy road.  Sometimes, He invites us into a really hard situation or set of circumstances.  And it makes no sense at all. Or at least that's how it seems...

I am sure that Jesus’ followers faced the same thing when they gave up everything to follow him and it seemed like all that road led to was the wrongful arrest and brutal murder of their beloved Teacher.  I bet they wondered why he led them to the foot of the cross only to watch him die.  It made no sense to them.  
And if the story ended there, it would make no sense to me either.  But Jesus’ death was just the beginning of the greatest story ever told.  A true story.  A story of redemption and life and freedom.  A story about love.

Three days after Jesus’ death, when the news was reported that the stone in front of his tomb had been rolled away, Peter and John went to see for themselves. They didn’t walk or leisurely stroll or talk about their suspicions on the way.  They ran.  The bible says that John outran Peter.  He was faster or maybe more desperate for answers- I don’t know.  But it was Peter who had the courage to enter the tomb first.

Luke gives his account of Peter’s reaction to seeing the empty tomb and the neatly folded linens that were wrapped around Jesus’ dead body.

Bending over, [Peter] saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened.  Luke 24:11

John writes his own personal testimony of that moment.

Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed.   John 20:8

The very next verse tells us that they still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.  It wasn’t that they just didn’t get it; it was that their minds had not yet been opened to understanding by Jesus himself.  In the wake of their biggest disappointment, these two men reacted differently to something they were not able to comprehend.   

Peter wondered.  

John believed. 

If I’m honest, I’m more like Peter.  I like to mull things over and over and over until my brain feels more jumbled up than when I started.  I often toss ideas back and forth until I’m exhausted or frustrated, unwilling to just accept that there are parts of the story that God has chosen to keep hidden from me.  If Peter wasn’t tired from running to catch up with John, his thoughts were sure to tire him out soon enough.

John believed before he understood.  John believed before he saw how the puzzle pieces fit together.  John made a choice to believe that something awesome and incredible and amazing had happened, even if he didn’t get it completely.  

I want to be like this.  I want to make the choice to believe that God is at work and that Jesus wouldn’t have led me here if He didn’t have a bigger plan that fit into a bigger story- a true story that has a perfect ending. 

When Jesus- risen and very much alive- met the disciples, Peter and John were there.  They touched his nail scarred hands and looked with their own eyes at his feet and his side.  Jesus connected some of the dots that day and then he opened their minds so they could understand completely.

John was the only one of the bunch that believed before he was truly capable of understanding.  I wonder if it had anything to do with his level of trust in Jesus.  In his eye-witness account of all that took place, he refers to himself over and over again as “the disciple whom Jesus loved.”  He knew that Jesus loved him and had no doubt about that.   

I used to think that John was pretty arrogant to go around telling everyone that he was the one Jesus loved.  But he wasn’t saying he was the only one Jesus loved; in fact, we could all go by that nickname- “one whom Jesus loves.”  John just had the guts to say it.  And I am sure that his choice to believe was born out of the deep love he found in Jesus.  His understanding of Jesus’ love for him was all that was needed to believe there was more to the story.  

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.  Ephesians 3:17-19