John 20:8-9 Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. (They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.)
This incident is an illustration of the reality that there is a difference between faith and understanding. Faith is more important, because we are not saved by understanding, but faith without understanding is rootless, for want of a better word. Paul said that “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of Christ.” (Romans 10:17) Saving faith is a gift, (Ephesians 2:8) but we do need understanding to lay hold of all that God has provided for us. This passage doesn’t specify precisely what John believed, but he had been granted the best memory of all that Jesus had told them in the Upper Room and on the way to Gethsemane, so he had the most reason to expect resurrection. At the same time, he hadn’t connected it to the Old Testament prophecies about Jesus (since that was the only Bible they had at that point). When we experience something that seems spiritual we need to search the Scriptures to be sure we aren’t being misled by our emotions or something worse. That said, we also need to be careful not to put out the Holy Spirit’s fire, as Paul cautioned. (1 Thessalonians 5:19) We need faith, certainly, but we need faith that is rooted and grounded in the Word of God, so that emotions won’t be able to rob us of it.
Having been involved in the Charismatic Movement since the early ’70s, I’ve seen a wide range of faith/understanding/activities. They didn’t always connect very well with each other! However, of all the people in the New Testament, the one I would most like to emulate, apart from Jesus, is John. John had both simplicity of faith and depth of understanding. I personally tend toward the intellectual, but I know that without a foundation and an overlay of faith, intellect by itself leads to total futility and death. I read about such people as Isaac Newton, who are know for their brilliance but who operated from a bedrock understanding that we are creatures, accountable to our Creator. Japanese in general have very little understanding of the Christian Gospel, so I have to give information before they are able to receive the gift of faith. However, I must not think that information alone is enough. I am consistently and constantly to pray for the Holy Spirit to impart faith to my hearers, so that they may repent and believe for their salvation.
Father, thank You for this reminder on this Easter Sunday morning. Thank You for the lightening and thunder that woke me up in time to have this time with You before the Sunrise Service. I leave the weather in Your hands, and I ask Your presence and anointing for every service this morning, both at the martyrdom site and in each church building. May many gather, not only to hear the Good News but also to be touched by Your Spirit and transformed into the likeness of our risen Lord, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!