Summary: Many people believe Jesus for the things that He does. That’s not the kind of belief that Jesus is looking for.
Several years ago a famous liberal named Norman Cousins wrote an editorial for a magazine called the Saturday Review. Understand that he was no friend to Christianity when he wrote this. But what he wrote was true and should convict us all. He wrote about a conversation he had on a trip to India with a Hindu priest named Satis Prasad. Mr. Prasad told Cousins that he wanted to come to America as a missionary. Of course Cousins assumed that he meant that he wanted to convert Americans to the Hindu religion. But that wasn’t the case. Mr. Prasad said, “I would like to convert them to the Christian religion.” That didn’t make a whole lot of sense to Cousins, so he asked him to explain. Mr. Prasad did. He said, “Christianity cannot survive in the abstract. It needs not membership, but believers. The people of your country may claim they believe in Christianity, but from what I see at this distance, Christianity is more a custom than anything else. I would ask that either you accept the teachings of Jesus in your everyday life and in your affairs as a nation, or stop invoking His name as sanction for everything you do. I want to help save Christianity for the Christian.” Mr. Prasad had it right. Christianity doesn’t need membership. Christianity needs believers. This nation is filled with church members. This nation is filled with people who identify themselves as Christian. Some surveys indicate that up to 80% of Americans call themselves Christian. If that’s the case, why are our churches empty? Why are drugs and alcohol problems so rampant? Why is homosexuality becoming socially acceptable? Why is the mass murder of unborn babies not just tolerated, but promoted? Because there are a lot of people in America today who believe—but don’t really believe. There is a huge difference between claiming belief and really believing. Just like there was a difference between the disciples who believed in Jesus in the past two passages… and the many who “believed” in this passage this morning. At the wedding in Cana that we talked about two weeks ago… Jesus performed a miracle. He miraculously turned the water into wine. And 2:11 tells us that the disciples believed in Him. But ultimately, they didn’t believe in Jesus because of the sign. They didn’t believe in Jesus because He changed the water into wine. They believed in Jesus because He changed their hearts. And then last week we talked about the first time that Jesus cleansed the temple. And verse 22 says that the disciples remembered Jesus’ Word, and they believed the Scripture. They believed in Scripture and in Jesus. The disciples truly believed in Jesus. They had a true, saving belief in Jesus. But then when we get into our passage this morning, there is a stark contrast. The past two events resulted in a few people truly believing in Jesus. But that wasn’t the case with everybody. So what was the difference? Apparently all of these people saw the same things. They all saw the miracle Jesus performed. They all saw the authority Jesus exercised. So why did a few truly believe while the vast majority only “believed.” In order to figure that out, this passage lets us know what belief isn’t. First, true belief in Jesus isn’t about chasing Jesus’ signs.