In what circumstances did Jesus say, “Believe in God”? What is it to believe in something? When we say, “I believe” there can be different meanings depending on the circumstances! If someone rushes in and says, “I believe the house is on fire” everyone who hears immediately acts and takes whatever action they can without delay.
Our reading in John has the final message of Jesus before his arrest, a personal message to strengthen the disciples after Judas the betrayer left. Chapter 14 starts “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me”. They will need the deepest convictions of belief because in a very short while he is arrested and they are overwhelmed with anxieties. Only one of them was faithful to Jesus up to the end. In chapter 19 where the frightful crucifixion scene is described note verses 25-27, “… standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby … he said to the disciple, ‘Behold your mother!’ And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home”.
In times of total stress, supporting one another is essential. Such times could be on the horizon. The way we cope will show whether we really “believe in God”. The hearts of the disciples were “troubled” – but after the resurrection they acted with heart-felt belief. What dramas we read about in Acts!
These excite and challenge us! We are told how the disciples were arrested for “proclaiming Jesus and the resurrection of the dead … but many of those who heard the word believed …” (4:2-4). With what conviction the disciples believed now – and showed that conviction of belief by their actions.
Recall that after Jesus told the disciples to “believe in God” he then said, “Let not your hearts be troubled”. Surely he is saying that to believers now. He says this again later in the chapter – it is so important. Verse 27: memorise it. “Peace I leave with you: my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let them be afraid”. Heartfelt prayer and meditation on God’s word provide the foundation for possessing his peace.