Summary: A person can grow up in a Christian home and still not believe. Here is practical application to help folks move beyond their unbelief. Preached on Easter, but applicable any Sunday.
So, I’m walking through the Museum of Biblical Archeology in Jerusalem, and I’m walking through an area with various kinds of pottery on display, and there in front of me is this absolutely perfectly preserved water jug. It stopped me cold.
Now understand, as far as ancient pottery goes, it is quite unusual to find any kind of pottery in good shape. Usually, the pottery is chipped and has several pieces missing. But, this water jug was perfect so it caught my eye. It was a simple clay water jug that looked like it could hold about three gallons of water and etched in Hebrew near the mouth of the jar was the name “Joel.”
The little placard next to the water jar said simply, “The water jug of the prophet Joel.”
I guess I had stepped a little to close to the pottery because a security guard appeared out of nowhere and was now standing next to me. So I asked him. “Is this really, THE water jug of THE prophet Joel from the Bible?”
“Yes”, He said, “Without a doubt, this is THE actual water jug from THE prophet Joel. It has been verified as authentic….Please don’t touch it.”
I don’t know, but for some reason I was taken back. I had seen thousands of various objects: Jewelry, weapons, royal seals, and so on, but for me, this simple water jug brought it all home. Maybe it was the fact that Joel had etched his name on the jug or maybe it was the fact that it was an everyday item. Whatever the reason, from that day onward the prophet Joel was no longer just a name to me - he was now a real person. I had seen many places and artifacts in Israel, but for me, for me, it was the water jug of the prophet Joel that brought me once again that these people we read about are very real.
Look, I had read about the prophet Joel, I had studied in Seminary about the prophet Joel even had seen copies of ancient manuscripts from the book of Joel, intellectually I knew the prophet Joel was historically real, I knew that the what the prophet Joel wrote in the Scriptures was authentic - but what made Joel real to me was a simple clay water jug that the prophet had etched his name on. Joel.
Isn’t that human nature?
Sometimes it is surprising what will make us really believe.
I can’t force myself to believe; I can’t will myself to believe; I can’t trick myself into believe; My parents can’t compel be to believe, my spouse can’t insist I believe. Either I believe or I don’t believe. There is no middle ground.
Sort of believing...that’s not real.
You may be here this morning and are not sure if you believe; You may be here today and hope that someday you will believe; You may be here today, and have the secret knowledge that you used to believe; You may even be here this morning and do believe - but honestly, privately, you are not sure how real your belief is...And you may have walked in here this morning with the knowledge that your family and your friends think you believe - but you know you don’t genuinely believe.
You’re not alone, you’re in good company, for even the disciples of Jesus struggled with their faith.