“Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you. For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me.” (John 17:7-8)
Scripture Reading – John 6:44-71
Throughout the pages of the gospel, we can’t help but be struck by the disciples lack of faith. In the Gospel of Matthew, for example, Jesus repeatedly says to His disciples: “You have little faith.” Now that Jesus will soon be departing, the question of the strength of the disciples’ faith becomes critical. Will they have enough faith in Christ to accomplish His work? Jesus doesn’t waver on the answer to this important question. He knows that they do because “they have believed that you sent me.” Here is the important principle that we so desperately need to understand: The key is not in the strength of our faith, but rather in the object of our faith. If we have faith that Jesus is the Son of God sent to fulfill the Father’s plan of salvation, then we have enough faith to do the greater works that Jesus promised we would do. Every believer whose faith in Christ can do it, because abiding in Christ is about being in the True Vine, so His life can flow through us and produce fruit.
Jesus gives us a positive statement about the disciples’ faith. This might seem misguided since, in a few moments when Jesus is arrested in Gethsemane, His disciples will all flee out of fear, leaving Jesus to face the cross alone. Their faith is certainly not complete. They still don’t understand the Resurrection that will take place in a few days. But the disciples have reached a decisive point in their relationship with Christ here. When Jesus first appeared on the scene, many were drawn to Him because of the miraculous healings and the feeding of thousands. People followed Jesus in hopes that He would fulfill their needs. However, as the miracles decreased in frequency and, as they understood that Jesus was not going to lead a rebellion against the Roman occupiers, the Jews turned on Him. More and more people deserted Jesus and asked for Him to be crucified. In spite of their weak faith, the disciples stayed, because they understood that Jesus was different. They didn’t depart even when they heard the difficult truths that Jesus taught. They were even willing to lay down their lives for Him (John 13:37). You could look closely at their faith and certainly conclude that their faith wasn’t strong, but it was directed in the right object—Jesus Christ as revealed by the Father.
The world is constantly trying to remake Jesus according to what they want. The Jews wanted a political Messiah that would lead a rebellion. Today, some want a Jesus who will give us whatever we ask, so that our lives will be materially blessed. Others, still want a Jesus who is a good moral teacher. A disciple is a person who doesn’t define Jesus according to what they want or feel is true. A disciple is someone who accepts that the words that Jesus spoke are directly from the Father and are true. It’s believing in the Jesus who the Father revealed and not the Jesus of our own understanding. Only the Jesus revealed by the Father can solve our greatest problem: sin. By humbling ourselves and accepting who Jesus is, we’ll stop trying to make a Jesus of our liking.
The disciples eventually had such faith. Even though their courage failed them on occasions like in the Garden of Gethsemane, they didn’t waver in their view of Jesus: Jesus is the Son who came to fulfill the Father’s plan of salvation. Now, like the disciples, we have to choose to obey God’s Word and put our faith in Jesus just as the Father has revealed Him to us. We need to accept that this Jesus is enough. As we abide in Him, our faith will increase and become stronger. Are you believing the revealed Jesus or a Jesus of your own understanding?