Summary: John repeatedly explains how critical "believing" is to the Christian. In fact he stresses faith nearly twice as much as the other 3 gospels. Why?
(We opened with a 50 seconds cut from Don Adams in “Get Smart” - the episode called “Mr. Big” found on youtube.com - where Maxwell Smart goes into his “Would You Believe” routine.)
“Would you believe?”
It was one of the funnier skits that Don Adams developed for his sitcom “Get Smart”. And what made his routine funny was the fact that his hero (Maxwell Smart) was attempting to strike fear into the heart of his adversaries by bluffing.
He spoke with confidence about something he knew wasn’t true. But when the enemy agent refused to believe his bluff, Smart would back off and say “Well, would you believe…” something else.
When Maxwell Smart asked “would you believe?”
He didn’t (believe)
ILLUS: In 2007, the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life conducted a survey that discovered:
Amongst Roman Catholics, Mainline Protestants, and Orthodox Christians, 25% (1 in 4) of those church members had doubts about the existence of God.
Among Jews the ratio was 6 out of 10 doubted God’s existence.
These are people who “belong” to a religious group.
They go to church, or the synagogue.
They support a ministry financially and in other ways.
But they have… doubts.
It’s almost as if their church was saying “would you believe”?
And they would reply:
“I have a hard time accepting that.”
Would you believe?
Well, not everyone does.
And sometimes, not even those who go to church believe.
But, of course, that almost seems illogical.
For someone who is “religious” – who goes to church – to have trouble believing God exists?
The Apostle John would be amazed at that.
Throughout his Gospel, John had an almost excessive emphasis on faith.
For example: John uses the Greek word “pisteuo” – which means “to believe” – nearly twice as much as the other 3 gospels combined.
And the Gospel of John is the only book of the Bible where we’re told
* For God so loved the world that he gave his only Begotten Son, that whoever BELIEVES in him shall not perish but have eternal life. … Whoever BELIEVES in him is not condemned, but whoever DOES NOT BELIEVE stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. John 3:16 &18
It’s the only Gospel that tells us that Jesus said:
* Whoever BELIEVES in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him." John 7:38
* “I am the resurrection and the life. He who BELIEVES in me will live, even though he dies” 11:25
And… “… if you do not BELIEVE that I AM you will indeed die in your sins." 8:24
When John asked “Would you believe?” he wasn’t bluffing.
He wasn’t writing about something he didn’t believe.
He’d been with Jesus.
Listened to Him teach.
Watched Him perform miracles and heal the sick.
And, he’d watched Him die, and seen Him raised from the grave.
John was declaring to us: faith in the risen Savior is what makes us who we are. You cannot be a Christian if you DO NOT believe that God not only exists but that He sent His only begotten Son to die for your sins.
If you don’t believe that – you will die in your sins.
That’s what Jesus said.
Faith is essential if you’re going to be a Christian.
And John believed that so intensely, that he hammered home throughout his book.
But then, John’s gospel is also the only one to tell us the story of Thomas.
Thomas was a lot like John.
He’d been one of the Apostles.
He had walked with Jesus too.
He’d listened to Jesus’ teachings
He’d loved Christ, and walked with Him wherever He went.
When Jesus said He was going to Jerusalem and it’s obvious that people there want to kill Him
“… Thomas...’said to the rest of the disciples, "Let us also go, that we may die with him.’” John 11:16
And when Jesus tells His disciples that “In my Father’s house there are many rooms”… and I’m going to prepare a place for you. And Jesus concluded by saying “You know the way to the place where I am going." John 14:4
At that point – it’s Thomas that pipes up and says: "Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?" John 14:5
And Jesus responds: "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6
In Thomas we have the picture of a committed follower of Christ.
He loves Jesus.
He walks with Jesus.
He’s willing to suffer and even die for Jesus.
But he has some questions. He has some doubts.
Now, questions and doubts aren’t NECESSARILY bad things.