Let not your heart be troubled: you believe in God, believe also in me.…
1. It might have been urged that the disciples are addressed by our Lord as already believing, not in God only, but in Himself. But the Bible, and He who speaks therein, is truer to nature and experience than many who profess to interpret it. Are there not many in Christian Churches needing still the voice which shall say, Believer, believe; Christian, come to Christ; disciple of three or of thirty years, still, as for the first time, behold Him!
2. There are those, even among Christian people who confide to us, in the tone of sincere and humble regret — "I cannot see why a Saviour was needed. If I, being evil, know how to forgive, how much more shall a Father in heaven accept the first sigh and bestow the unpurchased grace? Is it not enough if I believe in God my Father? Why must I be encumbered with a revelation of sacrifice which rather repels me than reassures? I believe in God — why must I believe also in Christ?" Let us endeavour to answer this question.
I. Now, someone might say, Look at the saints of the Old Testament. What grace, of reverence, of affiance, of holy aspiration, was lacking in the patriarch Abraham, or to the poet-king of the Psalms? Christ was not manifested when those thoughts of eternal fulness glowed and throbbed in the big heart of David. We venture to dispute the very fact taken for granted. Abraham, "saw Christ's day," and walked in the light of it. David was reared amidst promises which made Christ a household word in Israel, and sacrifices which brought to the very senses the need and hope of propitiation.
II. Or you might speak of men who, in this century, have not only led good lives, but have had pious feelings, and done beneficent works, without realizing what we should call the fulness of the Christian faith — avowed Unitarians, e.g. But it is only truth to remember that men thus dispensing with Christ are yet unspeakably indebted to Him. The very idea of God as our Father comes from His revelation.
III. Still, you might say, having made this great revelation, may not Christ Himself disappear? Having taught that God is our Father, must He remain in sight to confuse or divide our allegiance? Believing in God by Christ's help, why go on further to believe in Christ? Now, it is an obvious answer, and surely a just one. We cannot take Christ by halves. If Christ said one thing from God, He said all things: we must look to see what He said, and not, after catching one isolated word, presume to declare that one word all.
IV. Observe, too, how the particular truth received, no less than the accompanying doctrines objected to, runs up into matters which we can neither dispute as facts, nor yet, apart from God, settle. Sin — you see it, you feel it; all religions pre-suppose it. Evidently sin has made a great rent and breach in God's work. Listen to this new Teacher, crying in the hearing of the dislocated and disorganized creation, "When ye pray, say, Our Father." Yes, we say, something within tells me that I had a Father once — but long, long have I lost Him. Tell me the processes by which it has been recovered — the marvellous mystery of restored sonship and reawakened love. Shall we accept the bare fact, and ask nothing as to the proofs and the instrumentalities? Shall we let Christ say, "God is your Father," and never question Him once as to anything further? They who believe the mighty intelligence must hearken what the same Lord bus to say concerning it. May it be, perhaps, that there was that in the Divine holiness which made sin a fatal bar to man's acceptance, except on some condition which God only can perform? Shall we dare, we the guilty and helpless ones, to say that, with nothing but poor human tears and cries and paltry efforts, the stain of sin can be wiped out? Shall we dare to repose upon a feeble bureau analogy, and rest the whole weight of eternity upon the impulses and instincts (not always, even here, prevailing) of family love and parental tenderness? What if there lurked in the background of Deity an obstacle which Calvary alone could take away? It was, no doubt, with special reference to His sacrifice and its consequences that Christ spoke of His disciples, in the text, as having (in some sense) still to believe. They knew Him for the Messiah; what they had still to learn, still to believe in, was the death as itself the life. It is, indeed, the crucial test of faith. He who believes in Christ's atonement believes Christ; believes that He came from God, and came with a message.
V. But, although we thus stand upon the dignity of the Cross as a mystery, we do find, as a matter of experience, that no man dispenses with it without being a definite loser in some feature of the Christian character.
1. There is often a feeble sense of the sinfulness of sin. A man cannot really see Himself a sinner, and not cry out for a Saviour.
2. There is often a want of true tenderness towards sinners. Benevolence there may be; but the discovery of unworthiness in the object of the philanthropy is often the death blow of charity. Or, again, there may be an easiness of good nature ready enough to see excuses: there will not be that unique combination, which was in the cross itself, and which is in the true family of the Crucified — tenderness towards the sinner, with displeasure against the sin.
VI. God, in arranging that we should receive this greatest of His gifts — reconciliation through His Son — has given a charm and pathos to the gospel which it could not otherwise have possessed. What possession do you not value tenfold if it is yours through love? That book, that trinket, why is it dear to you? It was the keepsake of a loving friend. And do you not think that God was appealing, perhaps, to some such instinct of your nature, when He would not only send word to you that you were pardoned, but bid you to receive the blessing through the willing self-gift of One who, sharing every emotion of God's love for the self-ruined one, came Himself to plead, and at last to die, because thus He could effectually "roll away the great stone" sin, move the obdurate, and win back the lost? Conclusion: Try the charge, "Believe also in me." Lean your whole weight of guilt, of sin, of weakness, of sorrow, upon Jesus Christ and Him crucified. See whether, in proportion as you trust Christ more, you become not, in yourself, happier, holier, stronger, gentler. Thus, in time, you shall have a witness within. You life shall be one echo to the sweet persuasive expostulation," Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God; believe also in Me."
Parallel VersesKJV: Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.