“Do you finally believe?” (John 16:31)
This is it. The final day of Lent. The Saturday between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. And what a terrific question for us to close our fasting experience together.
In John 16, we find Jesus at the last Supper. It’s the night before His crucifixion, and He has delivered an extensive sermon to the disciples. Then, as He finishes speaking, His disciples blurt out: “We get it. You really know what you’re talking about, and we believe that you came from God.”
Perhaps a little incredulously, Jesus asks:
“Do you finally believe?”
Three years of close contact. Three years of watching miracles, signs, and wonders. Three years of listening to incomparable preaching. Three years of compassion and Kingdom. Three years of rebuke and encouragement. And just now the disciples “finally believe”? I don’t know whether to be horrified or encouraged.
At the Last Supper, the disciples clearly had some level of pre-belief about Jesus, or they would not have been there. But a penny dropped. And suddenly something deeper resonated within them. Their former belief gave way to something much deeper, richer, and more fully orbed.
These past 40 days of Lent have surely touched us all differently. Some of us feel invigorated by spiritual renewal; others of us have seemingly had little spiritual shift at all. Some of us have witnessed remarkable things happening by the hand of God; others of us still wait. Some of us have experienced God’s Presence in deep and abiding ways; others of us not so much.
We started Lent by affirming that our fasting would create space (not obligation) for God. We wanted to open our hearts and lives to Him through prayer and fasting over a testing length of time, without demanding how He should show up or work.
“Do you finally believe?” Jesus asked, and still asks.
“Of course,” we call back. But let’s not be too hasty.
If we believe more now than 40 days ago, we will live and love differently. We cannot claim to believe Him more deeply but engage in the world less deeply. We cannot declare our utter belief in Him, while leaving a trail of wounded and broken lives in our wake.
When we “finally believe,” we’ll realize that there’s no turning back. When we “finally believe,” the baubles of the world lose their shine. The priorities of our culture take a back-seat. Our dreams get surrendered. Our resources get offered. Our time gets re-structured. Our relationships reach deeper. Our worries grow less. Our ambition gets abandoned.
And on this Easter weekend, this last day of Lent, no better question might be asked of us than: “Do you finally believe?”