I am challenging you to read right through the Gospel of John in as short a time as possible, but certainly in less than six days, in order to get the overall picture which John has painted. The portrait is vastly different from the first three gospels, not only by developing a different outline of the same story, but also in its view of the events it records. It’s as if John sees them through the eyes of Jesus. The story is told from the inside. No wonder some of us call John’s Gospel ‘the theology of the first three gospels’.
To John his use of the word ‘believe’ means so much more than accepting something as a fact. To him, to believe in Jesus is not a mental assent to something, as when we say, ‘Do you believe that the Pacific Ocean is the deepest sea in the world? we could say ‘Yes, so what?. Some things you believe and it makes little or no difference to the way you live. Frankly, whether I believe or not that Robin Hood ever existed will not put any bread on our table. However, if someone calls you and says ‘Your house is on fire’, or ‘Your wife has been knocked down’, these are not things you can ignore, still less say ‘So what’. If you believe what you are being told, you act, urgently, at once. You call the Fire Brigade or Ambulance, and in great anxiety you dash to the scene. It is all systems go, if you believe the report. If a stranger says to you ‘I love you’: if you believe them, nothing can ever be the same between you – for better or worse the relationship has changed.
Go even further with this word belief. John uses it to mean, ‘to bet your life on’: to trust in totally, like when you board a jet liner, you don’t just believe that the pilot is competent to fly the plane, you literally put your life in his hands. You trust your very self to him for a few hours or for the rest of your life! Well, it’s that kind of trust which John means when he uses the words ‘Believe in’.
Listen to the best known text in all the Bible: John Chapter 3 v. 16
For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
Don’t stop there – hear the next verse, and see the difference it makes:
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. John 3: 16 and 17
I believe that you Lord Jesus are God the Son, and willingly entrust to you all that I am, and all that I have.
Now read Hebrews Chapter 1.