Sight (John 20:24-31)
Sermon Audio: Sight (John 20:24-31)
Sermon Discussion Questions:
- Read John 20:24-31.
- Why do you think this story of Thomas is included in John's gospel?
- Why did Thomas find the resurrection of Jesus so impossible to believe? What are some other aspects of Christianity that people today similarly find impossible to believe?
- What does Matt 28:16-17 seem to show us?
- What does it mean to "doubt your doubts"?
- What else does someone need besides good arguments and evidence to overcome their doubts?
- Why is it significant that Jesus is identified by His wounds?
Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.”
26 Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” 28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. – John 20:24-31
John’s account opens by referencing a past encounter with Jesus and the disciples that Thomas missed out on. The morning of Easter, the disciples are informed by Mary that the stone blocking the tomb has been rolled away. They run to the tomb and do not find Jesus there, but find an empty tomb with the grave clothes Jesus was wrapped in left behind (John 20:1-10). Jesus then appears to Mary alone and charges her to go tell the disciples what she has seen (John 20:11-18). Then we are told: “On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord,” (John 20:19-20).
The disciples have seen the empty tomb, they have heard Mary’s testimony, but now they see Jesus—they even see the wounds in his hands and side. This isn’t an imposter, this is the same man who was hanging on the cross three days earlier. The disciples are shocked with joy—the nightmare has ended, everything sad is coming untrue.
But, Thomas misses it. We don’t know why Thomas wasn’t present, but he walks in later and finds his friends to be, in his mind, delusional. They tell Thomas that they have seen Jesus, that He isn’t dead, He is very much alive. But Thomas responds strongly, even disdainfully: “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe,” (John 20:25). This tells us a number of things:
1. Thomas was not expecting Jesus to rise from the dead. Sometimes modern skeptics today look at the accounts of the gospels and say, This is just wish fulfillment. The apostles thought Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah but he was crucified. So they created stories about Jesus coming back to life to keep the Messiah myth alive, or perhaps they were delusional and hallucinated a resurrected Christ.
Three quick responses to that: (1) the first witnesses of the resurrection are women, which would have been deeply embarrassing and problematic for patriarchal society that did not permit women to testify in court; if the events are fabricated, why include women when it would have been seen as a barrier to the spread of the gospel? (2) The earliest accounts of the gospel story are written too close to the events described (10-15 years), so if these were fabrications the movement would have been discredited, and (3) all of the apostles eventually die for their faith in a resurrected Messiah—as Pascal says, we should believe the witnesses who get their throats slit. One doesn’t usually die for what one knows to be false.
There are many more responses one could give to that, but the simple testimony here of Thomas’ skepticism makes the modern perspective problematic. The disciples were not expecting the resurrection because the resurrection didn’t fit into any kind of common worldview of their time. Greco-Roman culture believed that the material world was inferior to the spiritual, so there was no category for bodily resurrection—the body was something to be transcended for the higher immaterial realm. But the Jewish worldview held a high view of the body and the material world and strongly affirmed that there would be a resurrection one day, only the resurrection came at the final Judgement Day, when the Day of the Lord would arrive.
So Thomas’s incredulity towards the testimony of the other disciples centers on this worldview—someone being resurrected in the middle of history, while suffering, and death, and sin continue to take place? That doesn’t make any sense. This is why Thomas insists on the physical verification—unless I place my finger into the nail prints and put my hand in his side, I will never believe. If Jesus appeared merely as some apparition or ghost that wouldn’t mean that Jesus was alive—plenty of people claim to see apparitions of loved ones after they have departed. The spirit of Jesus walking around wouldn’t have been controversial—but a living, breathing, resurrected Jesus? The hallmark of the end of the world, being helicoptered into the present, here and now? That was an insurmountable challenge to Thomas’ worldview. The resurrection of Jesus Christ would have forced the disciples to adopt an entirely different worldview.
2. So, Thomas wants incontrovertible evidence. He needs empirical, firsthand experience of the resurrected Christ. He won’t take his friends’ word for it. Another typical modern skeptical posture towards Christianity is a kind of “chronological snobbery,” as C.S. Lewis described. It is an assumption that people “back then” were simple, gullible, and superstitious. They lacked the sophisticated, scientific knowledge we modern people possess today. But this is as incorrect as it is arrogant. The disciples know that dead people don’t come back to life. And Thomas demands touchable, verifiable evidence that the other disciples’ account is trustworthy. In fact, he claims that without it he “will never believe.”
3. Lastly, this shows us that doubt is common in the Christian life. Isn’t it amazing that the gospel accounts display the leaders of the church with such raw honesty about their own unbelief? There is Peter denying Christ, there are the other apostles fleeing at the Gethsemane, and here is Thomas—even after the account of the fellow disciples—refusing to believe. I think this functions to help us realize that faith in Christ does not come to the exclusion of doubt, but amidst it. Doubt and unbelief are not virtues, are not to be celebrated or embraced, but they are realities. We shouldn’t view belief and unbelief like on/off switches, but like dimmers. There is a gradient between the poles of complete belief and complete unbelief. Consider Matthew’s account of the disciples’ interaction with Jesus right as He is about to ascend to the Father, “Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17 And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted,” (Matt 28:16-17). Worship and doubt, simultaneously.
“Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you,” (John 20:26). Notice the similarities between the previous appearance of Jesus: the disciples are inside, the door is locked, yet Jesus appears and stands among them, and then proclaims “Peace be with you.” Even the day of the week is the same—eight days later (since Jews count the day of as the first) would have been on Sunday again, one week from Easter. The only difference is that this time Thomas is with them.
So, Jesus turns to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe,” (John 20:27). Jesus knows what Thomas said one week prior, so he invites Thomas to put Him to the test: touch my wounds. He invites Thomas to evaluate the evidence for himself. And then, He gently rebukes him: do not disbelieve, but believe. Do you see the patience and mercy of Jesus mingled with correction? Jesus doesn’t come to destroy Thomas for His lack of faith, nor He does He simply refuse to appear. But notice that in His appearing He corrects Thomas—Thomas was unbelieving, doubting, lacking faith, and Jesus summons him to faith. Doubt, skepticism, or the “deconstruction” of faith is not a virtue to embrace, but a problem that Jesus arrives to alleviate.
Nowhere in the text are we told of Thomas actually touching the scars of Jesus, rather the emphasis in verse 29 is on sight, “Have you believed because you have seen me?” The image of sight and blindness is used throughout the gospels as a kind of metaphor for spiritual understanding—here, Thomas literally sees Jesus which enables spiritual perception. Thomas no doubt was dumbstruck by the arrival of Jesus who can walk into a room despite the door being bolted shut. But imagine what flew through Thomas’ mind at the moment that Jesus spoke “peace” to him, when he offered to meet Thomas where he was at, and then invited him to believe. Jesus has not shut the door on him, has not closed the book, has not wiped His hands and waved Thomas off. Friend, don’t you see the encouragement in that? Perhaps you find yourself like Thomas today and struggle to believe. Perhaps you would not identify yourself as a Christian because you struggle with believing its claims. Jesus’ response to Thomas is a response to you: He is inviting you to believe.
One of the deceptive things about doubt is that it feels like it is the safe, neutral position to inhabit, while “faith” is the risky gamble. But actually, our doubts hide their own faith statements. If I doubt the Bible is a historically accurate and reliable disclosure of God’s Word, that is because I have faith in an alternate set of beliefs, God cannot speak and preserve His Word, a set of beliefs that are relying on faith just as much as the believer. When Jesus invites Thomas to believe He isn’t inviting Him to go from zero faith at all, to faith—He is inviting Him to reevaluate the previous faith he had (the Messiah cannot die, the Resurrection cannot take place in the middle of history). One of the reasons why Christians and non-Christians alike should take seriously their doubts about Christianity rather than ignore them is because there are often unexamined faith assumptions being made, assumptions that should be evaluated and tested—is there good reason to believe that? Is that true? Or, to put it another way, do you doubt your doubts with the same level of scrutiny you use for the claims of Christianity?
“Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28). Of all the disciples, Thomas expresses his doubts most clearly and most dramatically: ‘I will never believe.’ And, of all the disciples, Thomas now provides the most clear identification and confession of who Jesus is: ‘My Lord and my God!’ The gospel of John opens by identifying Jesus as the Word, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God… And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us,” (John 1:1, 14). That is a pretty clear explanation that Jesus, the Word made flesh, is God. And all throughout John’s gospel Jesus alludes to this truth. But nowhere in all four gospels is the identity of Jesus as God made as clearly as it is here by Thomas. Doubting Thomas! On the other side of his doubt Thomas found clarity and conviction that none of the other disciples at the time had.
Another reason why we shouldn’t pretend that our doubts and uncertainties don’t exist is because there is a security and solidity of faith on the other side. If you are willing to wrestle with your doubt and bring it Christ then there will be a strength in your faith that you would not have had you never wrestled with those doubts in the first place. If we leave unanswered questions to remain buried in our subconscious we may begin to tacitly wonder if there are no answers, and find our faith slowly deteriorating from the inside. But when we examine our doubts, and look at the assumptions those are based on, and scrutinize the evidence and bring it before Christ we find clarity. This is what happened for Thomas.
“Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed,” (John 20:29). There is a unique blessing reserved for those who believe without having the same evidence that Thomas has. If you ask someone to house sit for you, but you set up cameras all throughout your house and watch what they are doing the entire time you are gone, what does that reveal? You don’t trust them. You don’t believe them. And what then does that reveal about your relationship with that person? Jesus invites us to see that the faith that comes without sight enjoys a unique dimension of blessedness from God—we have a deeper trust in Him and so experience a more intimate relationship with God.
Okay, you may say, but Thomas had something we don’t have—if Jesus came and visited me I wouldn’t struggle with doubt either. Would you? Jesus does invite Thomas to see, even touch Him—yet there are other individuals who witness the resurrection, yet do not believe. After Jesus rises from the dead angels appear at the tomb and leave the guards trembling and afraid (Matt 28:2-4). And the guards report back to the chief priests and tell them what happened, and do you know what the chief priests do? They pay the soldiers off to lie and to tell everyone that the disciples stole the body (Matt 28:11-15). They don’t reconsider their position or admit what they did was wrong or seek Jesus or the disciples out.
People are not merely brains on sticks—they need more than evidence or reason to believe. If you have ever been in an argument or debate with someone, you know this to be true—you can be 100% correct, but it mean nothing to the person if they do not possess a willingness to listen. So too, good arguments and tangible evidence can help someone in their process of belief, but if their heart is hard, then they will simply find another way to reinterpret the evidence. The one generation who witnessed more miracles, more supernatural intervention, more tangible and experiential evidence of God was the wilderness generation in Exodus. Just think of what they saw: the plagues of Egypt, the Red Sea part, water come from a rock, bread from heaven, fire descend on Mt. Sinai—they heard the very voice of God. And yet, you will not find a better example of a generation that simply does not believe in God, that refuses to trust Him, whose hearts are hardened.
Is there a chance that some of our doubt and unbelief is a product of the fact that we may not want to believe? And if so, no amount of evidence will change that. You need a work of the Holy Spirit to give you a new heart that is open to God. Dare I say, that loves God. Love is required for all true knowledge. The man who loves Russian literature is likely going to understand War and Peace more than the man who despises it; the husband who has loved his wife for decades knows her in a way no one else will; the scientist who loves her subject will be able to find insights that a disinterested scientist would ignore. And if we do not have hearts that are open to love God, nothing matters. Consider what Peter tells us, “Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory,” (1 Pet 1:8). You don’t see him yet you love Him—love is the source of knowledge.
And yet, like Thomas, we are not left alone to muster faith out of nothing. John closes this section by summoning us to the purpose statement of his gospel: “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name,” (John 20:30-31). You see where this leaves us? We are Thomas now. We haven’t seen the resurrected Christ, but we are invited to rely on the testimony of the disciples to lead us into belief. All that John has recorded has been done so that one may go from unbelief to belief, to give you the conversion Thomas experienced but through the blessed sightless faith that Jesus commends. In other words, here is the claim: for those of us who struggle with doubt, we can examine this book, and if we are willing to doubt our doubts, to examine the reasons for our faith, and have a hear that is open to God, that is inclined towards Him, then we can find grounds for genuine belief.
Maybe you are not a Christian here today: I invite you to this process. Read through John’s gospel and when you find something that you seem to find unbelievable, simply ask yourself, “Why do I think that? What grounds do I have for that conclusion?” Take seriously Jesus’ claims and His work and see what you find.
Or maybe you are a Christian, but find many pockets of unbelief in your life. Maybe you are embarrassed about certain things that the Bible teaches that you know our wider culture finds ridiculous, backwards, or even immoral. Maybe you struggle with how the Bible can be reconciled with science, or struggle with how a loving God can permit evil, or maybe you doubt whether God can forgive a sinner like you. O friend, have you doubted your doubts? Is your heart open to God? Do you see the benefit that comes on the other side of doubt?
It is significant that Jesus authenticates Himself by showing the disciples His scars, isn’t it? It is the wounds of Jesus that break the spell of disbelief. It is the marring and rending of the flesh of the Son of God that identify Him most—so much so that even after resurrecting and receiving a glorified body, His wounds remain. The scars Jesus remind us that Jesus is not unfamiliar with pain, with shame, with abandonment, with agony. He knows the pain we go through and deliberately chose to enter into pain on our behalf, for us. You can trust Him. But more importantly, it was in those scars that He purchased salvation and forgiveness for us. As Thomas places his fingers in the wounds of Jesus he knows these should have been mine.
If when the doors are shut, Thou drawest near,
Only reveal those hands, that side of Thine;
We know today what wounds are, have no fear,
Show us Thy Scars, we know the countersign.
The other gods were strong; but Thou wast weak;
They rode, but Thou didst stumble to a throne;
But to our wounds only God’s wounds can speak,
And not a god has wounds, but Thou alone.
Dealing with Doubt: Belief (John 14:1-6)
Sermon Audio: Dealing with Doubt: Belief (John 14:1-6)
Sermon Discussion Questions:
- What stood out to you most from the sermon?
- What is causing the disciples to feel troubled? See John 13:36-38. What tends to lead you to feel "troubled" most often?
- What does Jesus mean by "believe in God" in John 14:1? If someone were to ask you to define what "believe" means according to John, what would you tell them?
- Why are some people helped in belief by Jesus' teaching and miracles, while others seem to be led into further unbelief? (See John 3:19-20)
- Why is Jesus' response to Thomas' question ("I am the way") significant for those who struggle in their faith?
- How can a person increase their trust and love in Jesus?
Digory was scared. It had been months since his mother was able to get out of bed, months since she had been able to sleep without medication, and months since he had seen her smile. Her illness was daily filling her with more pain, slowly stripping away life, and leaving Digory’s home darker and lonelier. Digory’s father was in another country for his job, so his mother and him had moved in with relatives, but they had proved to be strange, distant, and provided little comfort for the young boy. Doctors filled the hallways of the home, carrying out hushed conversations with Digory’s Aunt, always with bleak looks on their face, leaving Digory feeling more and more scared. He just wanted his mother to be okay.
And then, much to his surprise, by a strange turn of events Digory wound up in another world. A world of talking animals, of magic, all under the charge of their great king: a large, golden lion, Aslan. Also, through Digory’s own foolish choices, an evil witch is allowed to enter the world. Summoned by the sheer gravity of Aslan and the revelation of his own error, Digory agrees to a task Aslan sends him on: he must go fetch a piece of magic fruit to protect the land from the evil witch. He must not eat the fruit himself, but is to bring it back to Aslan. But once Digory arrives to the sacred garden where the fruit lie he encounters the witch. The witch, who has already eaten some of the fruit herself, tries to tempt Digory to do the same. This fruit, she explains, is the source of immortal life and the Lion obviously wants the fruit for himself, he has only sent Digory here like a servant to fetch it for him. Why not take some for himself? Or, even more tempting for Digory, why shouldn’t he bring some back home for his dying mother?
“What has the Lion ever done for you that you should be his slave?” said the Witch. “What can he do to you once you are back in your own world? And what would your Mother think if she knew that you could have taken her pain away and given her back her life and saved your Father’s heart from being broken, and that you wouldn’t—that you’d rather run messages for a wild animal in a strange world that is no business of yours.” (The Magicians Nephew, “An Unexpected Meeting”)
The longer the witch speaks, the weaker Digory’s answers and resolve become. Who is this Lion? What has he done for Digory? And why shouldn’t Digory simply concern himself with his own problems? C.S. Lewis, in this selection from the Chronicles of Narnia, is attempting to transparently recreate the temptation of Eve by the serpent. Has God really said? You will not surely die! You will be like God! “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate,” (Gen 3:6). What happened to Eve and what is happening to Digory is a dilemma of belief. One moment, the truth seems obvious and unquestionable; the next, after a few cleverly directed questions and assertions, everything seems upside down. New evidence, new arguments have been brought to light that suddenly leave our hero and heroine left with serious doubts about the character of God. Should you trust what God says even when your eyes or heart tell you otherwise? Friend, I wonder if you struggle to believe God? Or perhaps you are not a Christian here today and have never trusted the Lord—how can you believe in God? What must be overcome in you to trust in a God that your eyes cannot see?
If you have a Bible you can go ahead and open it to the gospel of John. We are starting a short series reflecting on the issue of doubt and belief in the Christian life, and today we are going to look at this question: how does one believe? Turn with me to John 14:1-6,
“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2 In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. 4 And you know the way to where I am going.” 5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” – John 14:1-6
Problem One: Let Not Your Hearts Be Troubled
Jesus opens with this phrase in verse 1, “Let not your hearts be troubled.” Jesus repeats this phrase again in verse 27, and twice more draws attention to the sorrow of the disciples in this block of teaching (16:6; 16:16-22). Jesus is referring specifically to the issue of His departure. He is just moments away from being delivered over to the authorities and will be put to death. So Jesus tells His disciples that He is going to a place that they will not be able to follow Him. Now, the disciples love Jesus and have been following Jesus (literally) for the past 2-3 years. They have given up their jobs, their homes, all to follow Jesus. So, right before Jesus tells the disciples to not let their hearts be troubled, Peter asks this question:
“Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus answered him, “Where I am going you cannot follow me now, but you will follow afterward.” Peter said to him, “Lord, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” 38 Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me? Truly, truly, I say to you, the rooster will not crow till you have denied me three times.” (John 13:36-38).
The problem is twofold. Not only is Jesus explaining that His death is about to separate Him from them—a problem that would have been incalculable in scope to the disciples who had no category for a crucified Messiah—but even worse, they cannot follow because they lack the devotion needed. They cannot follow Jesus physically into His death and resurrection now, but they also cannot follow Jesus spiritually and morally. Peter, the boldest of the twelve, is going to deny Jesus not once, not twice, but three times! They all are going to chicken out when courage is needed. But then Jesus says, “Let not your hearts be troubled.”
Here is the problem: there is much that troubles us. There is so much in the world that can leave us heartbroken, especially in our hyper-information age where we can have all of the worst events going on in the world, all the time, piped to us. And not just in text, but with pictures and videos. There is so much that can knock the wind out of us, especially when we feel like we live in an age where we are guaranteed long life, health, and prosperity, yet sickness, frustration, and death still reign. Where careers, purpose, and notoriety feel deserved, yet unemployment, meaninglessness, and insignificance still dog us. Friend, I wonder what troubles you?
Perhaps it is something out there that has made the world stop making sense. I hope you grasp how seriously the death of Jesus seemed like a complete defeat to the disciples. They are not troubled here because they understand that Jesus had to die and would then resurrect for the forgiveness of sins. No—they assumed, like every other Jew of their day, that the Messiah was to establish an earthly kingdom in Jerusalem where He would preside as King. The crucifixion of Jesus was a wholesale refutation of that, it completely unraveled the worldview of the disciples, like if you were to discover the spouse who you thought loved you really had been having affairs the whole time.
Or maybe it is something in here. Maybe it is not the breaking headlines, but your own brokenness that fills you with trouble. Maybe it is not being snubbed by your boss for ignoring your hard work, but it is the knowledge of your own laziness and ignorance that fills you with pain. Could you imagine being Peter, right after saying that you will die for Him, hearing your Lord personally tell you: No, you are actually about to deny me three times. Have you ever been shocked by your own wickedness? Have you ever looked inside yourself and not find light, but darkness? Not found courage, but cowardice? Not found victory, but impasse?
Here is what Jesus has to say you: Don’t be troubled, its okay.
Solution One: Believe in God
“Believe in God; believe also in me.” John 14:1. Jesus is keenly aware of how much turmoil His disciples are about to go through, so He summons them to the most important thing He can: belief in God and belief in the Son of God. He then calls them to believe in this specifically: “In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also,” (John 14:2-3).
Jesus is inviting His disciples to see why His departure is not something that should trouble their hearts: (1) He is going to personally prepare places for them in His Father’s house, (2) He will return for them, (3) they will be where Jesus is. He knows His departure is going to pain them greatly, so He reminds them of truth that will swallow up sorrow. In other words, He gives them reasons to believe, reasons for why their hearts should not be troubled.
At the very end of John’s gospel he explains why he wrote this book: “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name,” (John 20:30-31). How an individual can believe in the Son of God serves as the guiding framework of John’s entire gospel. The very word “believe” appears in Matthew’s gospel 9x, Mark’s 14x, and Luke’s 9x, but in John’s gospel? 85x! Here would be a helpful practice for you to do, maybe before your small group gathers this week: sit down and read the gospel of John and every time you see the word “believe” or other words or terms related to belief/unbelief, circle it. You will be amazed at how nearly every single story and nearly every teaching in John’s gospel is overtly about the issue of belief or unbelief.
What is belief? If someone asks you, “Do you believe in God?” they likely mean, “Do you believe God exists?” That is an extremely thin understanding of what the Bible means by “belief.” To that degree, we could say alongside James that the demons believe in God, “You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder!” (James 2:19). The demons believe, but they hate it. Thus, in the Bible true belief includes more than acknowledgment, but trust, confidence, and love. You may believe that the IRS is going to tax you in the Spring, but it has little to do with trust or affection. However, if a son believes that his dad is going to follow through on his promise take him on a camping trip next weekend, or decides to obey his father’s wishes even if his father isn’t watching, it has everything to do with love and trust. So, Jesus’ summons to “believe in God” is a summons to love and trust God in the face of what lets our hearts be troubled.
Throughout John’s gospel, Jesus is inviting people to that kind of belief, and exposing unbelief. We may assume that belief and unbelief is ultimately an issue of the mind—if someone does not believe that Jesus is the Son of God, then what we need to provide are good arguments and good evidence to the contrary. And that impulse isn’t wrong. Jesus Himself does both of these things throughout the gospel. There are two things that Jesus does to help people believe in Him: (1) He provides teaching and (2) He works signs and wonders.
There is one point in John’s gospel where a troop of officers from the Pharisees are sent to arrest Jesus, but instead they wind up listening to His teaching and return empty handed, “The officers then came to the chief priests and Pharisees, who said to them, “Why did you not bring him?” 46 The officers answered, “No one ever spoke like this man!” (John 7:45-46). As Jesus teaches people believe in Him (cf. John 8:30). Further, when Jesus meets an official whose son is dying and is asked to heal him, Jesus explains, “Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe,” (John 4:48). And Jesus heals the man’s son, and the man and his entire household believe (John 4:53). The purpose of these signs and wonders are to generate belief.
So, if we find ourselves lacking in faith perhaps we need to immerse ourselves in the teachings and works of Christ; perhaps we need to sit and soak in God’s Word to discover who this Savior is. When Jesus summons us to belief, He is not summoning us to a leap in the dark, He is not summoning us to, in the words of Mark Twain, “believe in something you just know ain’t true.” We should consider Jesus’ arguments, His teaching, His miracles, His resurrection. Friend, if you find yourself struggling with uncertainties about your faith, questions about the validity of Christianity, or how to respond to arguments commonly made against the Christian faith, I would encourage you to study the faith more seriously. There is an embarrassment of riches we have today in regards to resources for responding to questions of our faith—if you are interested in what some of those may be, feel free to come speak with me or another pastor here after the service.
But here is an interesting twist: there are some people in John’s gospel who find themselves filled with more unbelief the more they are exposed to Jesus’ teachings and signs. The more plainly that Jesus teaches to the Pharisees, the more hardened against Him they become. After Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead and many people then believe in him, the Pharisees decide that they must put Jesus and Lazarus to death (John 11:45-53; 12:9-11). They do not stop and say, “Hang on, maybe we should reconsider our position—He just rose a guy from the dead. Maybe He really is the Son of God?” They become more hardened in their opposition towards Him. At one point, Jesus cries out: “Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” The crowd that stood there and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him,” (John 12:28-29).
A literal voice booms from heaven in answer to Jesus and some people respond, “Nah, that’s just thunder,” and other people are like, “Are you crazy? That was definitely a voice—maybe an angel, but definitely a voice.” So Jesus responds by withdrawing, “When Jesus had said these things, he departed and hid himself from them. Though he had done so many signs before them, they still did not believe in him,” (John 12:36b-37). When the famous atheist Bertrand Russel was asked if he were to die and discover that he was wrong what he would say to God, he responded, “Why so little evidence?” While Jesus wants to provide good argument and evidence, John’s gospel shows us that our primary problem is not that we lack evidence. In fact, Paul can tell the Romans that existence of nature of God is so evident to all mankind that they all are “without excuse” when judgment comes (Rom 1:18-32). So, what is our problem?
“If anyone's will is to do God's will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority,” (John 7:17). What is our problem? It is a problem of the heart. How can we know Jesus is from God? Our will must be to do God’s will.
“And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed,” (John 3:19-20). This puts things more starkly: our problem is what we love. We love the dark because in the dark we remain in control, we are autonomous, we make our own rules. And the light of God’s holiness exposes us and requires us to submit to His standards.
Aldous Huxley in his book Ends and Means, explains, “I had motives for not wanting the world to have a meaning; consequently assumed that it had not; and was able without any difficulty to find satisfying reasons for this assumption. The philosopher who finds no meaning for this world is not concerned exclusively with the problem of pure metaphysics; he is also concerned to prove that there is no valid reason why he should personally not do as he wants to . . For myself .. the philosophy of meaninglessness was essentially an instrument of liberation, sexual and political.”
What is Huxley saying? Don’t think I am being objective here—I am motivated to reject any idea of divine meaning or design. Huxley wants to have sex with whoever he wants to have sex with, craft a political system any way he wants without feeling guilty about it. Huxley is being honest here—we do not arrive at conclusions solely by evidence or reason, but by what our heart loves. And if our heart loves darkness more than light? Than no amount of evidence matters, we will simply find a way to justify our beliefs. And that is a problem.
Problem #2: We Do Not Know
“And you know the way to where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” (John 14:4-5). Jesus is telling the disciples He is departing to a place that they will not be able to follow, at least for now, but then explains that they know the way. And Thomas has the courage to admit, “Jesus, I have no idea what you are talking about. We don’t know the way.”
I wonder if you ever heard something from our Lord, ever read anything, maybe even heard something from this pulpit and thought: I have no idea what that means or, more seriously, I think I know what that means, but I am not sure that I believe it. Friend, far better than ignoring our doubts and uncertainties, we should (like Thomas) bring our unbelief and misunderstanding to Jesus and tell Him: I don’t know what this means, I don’t know how this can be true, I don’t know what to do.
Solution #2: I Am the Way
“Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me,” (John 14:6). This familiar passage may be known to you as a classic proof text for why someone must believe in Jesus and Jesus alone as the way to know the Father. And that is true. But notice how if functions in response to Thomas’ question. How can we know the way to the Father? How can we get to where Jesus is going? What is the way to heaven?
Notice what Jesus doesn’t say: he doesn’t point people towards great acts of piety or religion, doesn’t tell them to go on a pilgrimage, get baptized, fulfill some sacred rite. He doesn’t put them towards the realm of the intellect, doesn’t invite them to read thick books and sort every problem out. He doesn’t point them towards morality, doesn’t tell them to clean their lives up. He points to Himself. I am the Way. Jesus doesn’t point to an argument, doesn’t point to evidence, doesn’t point to anything that Thomas can do—He just points to Himself.
If I were to tell you, “Hey, I would like to pay all of your bills for the rest of your life,” you would likely say something like, “Wow! Thank you…why? What did I do to deserve that?” If I explained that it was just something I wanted to do and I refused any offers you made to pay me back or do me any favors, you would be happy, yet you would likely feel uneasy. If you had nothing to do to pay me back, you might think: There is nothing I can do to put Marc in my debt, so how do I know he is going to continue to pay my bills for me? If I give you nothing you can do, then you are forced to simply trust my character, to trust my person. This is what Jesus invites Thomas to, and what He invites you to. Trust Him, His person.
And perhaps that feels painfully difficult for you. Perhaps you realize that you really struggle to trust Jesus, perhaps you look inside yourself and find a great deal of reservation and uncertainty about your faith. But notice what Jesus points to: Himself. He is the Way. It is not the strength of our faith or understanding, it is the object of our faith that saves us. There once was a man attempting to cross a frozen river, but he had no idea how thick the ice was. So, he got down on his hands and knees and began slowly pawing his way across the ice, terrified he would fall through. As he strained his ears to hear a crack in the ice, he noticed a sound coming up behind him. It was the sound of hooves and sleigh bells. A man driving a team of horses pulling a sleigh flew by him across the ice and over to the other side. What did the man driving the sleigh know? He knew how thick the ice was, so he crossed with confidence. But, most importantly, both men made it across the river. It was not the strength of their belief that got them across, it was the strength of the ice. Friend, it is not your subjective apprehension of truth that makes something true or false, it is true whether you are certain of it or not. Similarly, Jesus is able to save those with strong faith and those filled with weak faith. So, maybe you struggle to fully trust Jesus’ person, struggle to lean on Him—but take heart, He will hold you up regardless.
Digory was scared. The witch sounded so correct. Yet, Digory steeled his resolve and resisted the temptation. How? Well, before Digory left on his quest he was confronted by Aslan for his role in bringing the witch into Narnia. Digory tries to make excuses before quietly admitting his fault. And he is utterly crushed because he had been hoping all along to ask Aslan to do something to save his mother. And now he is certain he has lost his chance, but still he cries out:
"But please, please - won't you - can't you give me something that will cure Mother?" Up till then he had been looking at the Lion's great feet and the huge claws on them; now, in his despair, he looked up at its face. What he saw surprised him as much as anything in his whole life. For the tawny face was bent down near his own and (wonder of wonders) great shining
tears stood in the Lion's eyes. They were such big, bright tears compared with Digory's own that for a moment he felt as if the Lion must really be sorrier about his Mother than he was himself.
"My son, my son," said Aslan. "I know. Grief is great…Let us be good to one another.” (The Magician’s Nephew, “Strawberry’s Adventure”).
After Digory says no to the witch, he is incredibly uncertain and deeply saddened. We are told:
“He was very sad and wasn’t even sure all the time that he had done the right thing; but whenever he remembered the shining tears in Aslan’s eyes he became sure.” (The Magician’s Nephew, “An Unexpected Meeting”). What I love about this story is that Digory’s confidence had nothing to do with any ironclad proof or mathematical certainty: he had simply seen a disclosure of the character and person of Aslan, his tears over Digory’s pain, that gave him the confidence he needed to say “no” to temptation, and “yes” to obedience. And friend, what could I possibly show you that would adequately convey the character of Jesus, His total trustworthiness, His commitment and love to you that deserve your allegiance and belief. Consider two simple passages. As Jesus is about to go to the cross, He gathers together His wayward, doubting, uncertain disciples and we are told this:
Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. – John 13:1
“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.” – John 15:9
You may be uncertain of God, but He isn’t uncertain of you. His love endures, even when ours falters. Lean on Him, believe in Him.
The Partnership of the Gospel (Phil 4:14-23)
Sermon Audio: The Partnership of the Gospel (Phil 4:14-23)
Sermon Discussion Questions:
- What from the sermon was most helpful for you?
- How would you define what Christian fellowship is? Where would you go in the Bible for a good picture of that?
- "Greet every saint in Christ Jesus" (Phil 4:21). Practically speaking, what does it look to keep this command? Break this command?
- Look at Phil 4:17. What was Paul seeking? Why should pastors encourage the members of the church to give their money generously?
- Can you think of anything that would change in your life if 100% of you believed the promise of Phil 4:19?
- Read Romans 8:32. What does this tell us?
When I was in high school I worked as a busboy and host at an Applebees. In-between passing out chicken fingers and burgers, my fellow co-workers found out that I was planning on becoming a pastor someday. This was something they found wildly comical and referred to me from then on as “Father Marc.” I cannot remember how it came about but eventually my co-workers found out that I also believed that sex should only happen within the covenant of marriage between one man and one woman. This led to a whole new slew of haranguing and poking fun. Most of it was lighthearted and silly. One conversation, however, was different.
One of my coworkers was a gay man who struggled with how I could believe that God was loving, yet I would deny that if two people loved each other they wouldn’t be allowed to give themselves to each other in the ultimate expression of love: the sexual act. We tend to assume that “love” is primarily a feeling, and that our job when we experience that feeling is to not inhibit it, but to let it have free reign and go where it wills. So, if you love someone and feel strongly towards them, you should let your affections take you wherever you will. This was what my coworker assumed.
But I asked him if he could define what he thought “love” meant. He thought about it for a moment and then said, “Well, I think it is some mixture of affection for someone coupled with a commitment to their good.” And I told him I thought that was exactly right. But then I asked him how he defined what “good” was. He sat quietly for a moment and slowly realized: This is more complicated than I thought. We understand that love involves affection, but it also must involve something more. Someone who “loves” someone, but is doing things to hurt that other person does not really love them. To truly “love” someone else, we must be working toward their good, and for us to work toward their good, we need to have a definition of what “good” is. Love requires a goal.
And while it may be easy for us to spot the error in my coworkers understanding of love, I wonder if we may have a harder time spotting the error in our understanding of love as it pertains to how we are to love one another within the church. What does it mean to love your neighbor or your fellow church member? What does it mean to be committed to their good? In our text today we will see what love between Christians looks like in action, what the goal is that Paul is working towards in the Philippian church.
10 I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. 11 Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
14 Yet it was kind of you to share my trouble. 15 And you Philippians yourselves know that in the beginning of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving, except you only. 16 Even in Thessalonica you sent me help for my needs once and again. 17 Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit. 18 I have received full payment, and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God. 19 And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. 20 To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.
21 Greet every saint in Christ Jesus. The brothers who are with me greet you. 22 All the saints greet you, especially those of Caesar's household.
23 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.
- Phil 4:10-23
On of the most common themes in the book of Philippians has been the love of God’s people for one another. In fact, the very first sermon I preached in Philippians was called “The Love of God’s People.” All over the letter, Paul’s affection and admiration for the Philippians, and their love of him, is evident. In this final section we get three more pictures of what love does amidst the people of God: love shares, love seeks, and love supplies.
Love Shares (14-16)
“Yet it was kind of you to share my trouble.” – Phil 4:14
But, vs. 14, Paul wants them to know that he recognizes their gift as a kindness, for they were sharing in his trouble—had “fellowship” in his trouble. The word for “sharing” is from the same root word for “fellowship” in the Bible, like in Acts 2, where we are told, “42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers,” (Acts 2:42). How do you “devote” yourself to Christian fellowship? We tend to use the word “fellowship” just to refer to hanging out together—which is, no doubt, a key aspect of Christian fellowship. In fact, just a few verses later we are told that the early church would gather to share meals on a daily basis (Acts 2:46). Time together matters. But, this isn’t the sum of Christian fellowship. Christian fellowship isn’t just a commitment to hang out, but a commitment to one another’s good, even when it comes at great personal cost. Which is why we also read in Acts 2 of the sacrificial love of Christians for one another, “And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need,” (Acts 2:44-45).
This is what Christian fellowship is: Paul’s problem became their own. Love shares. What is burdening you, burdens me; what rejoices you, rejoices me. The body of Christ is an interconnected whole, like a vine, or the bricks of a building, or a body. We are like a tightly interwoven net: when a rock falls on the net, the whole net bends down to absorb the blow, and in doing so it pulls the individual strand of the net that was struck back up. This is distinct from our typical, modern idea of the autonomous man. The autonomous man works a decent job, makes plenty of money, has great insurance, a cushy retirement, drives his new car directly into his garage, closes the door, and spends his evening by himself. He is a monad, a marble, a disconnected and isolated individual who has all the entertainment and comforts he needs. His relationships are ones of convenience, never dependence. But that is wholly alien to the nature of the relationships that Christians are to have with one another—we are to depend on one another.
And so, Paul depends on the Philippians; he has been in need, and the Philippians have supplied his need.
In fact, vs. 15-16 show that the Philippian church has a track record of financially supporting Paul, even when no one else did, “And you Philippians yourselves know that in the beginning of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving, except you only. 16 Even in Thessalonica you sent me help for my needs once and again.” (Phil 4:15-16).
Paul’s pattern of receiving financial support: Paul refused to take financial support to the church he was currently planting, but once he left to go plant more churches, he would then receive monetary support from them (cf. 2 Cor 11:9). Paul was concerned that by receiving financial support initially from the church plant he was working on it would both put a stumbling block in front of early believers that may hinder them from the free gift of the gospel, or it may confuse some to think that Paul was like other paid rhetoricians who received money for their eloquent sophistry. But after the church was established and Paul traveled on, he would then receive and solicit financial support from these churches to help him.
This is what the Philippian church did, but notice that vs. 15 tells us they did this from their first exposure to the gospel. Which is significant, because we know from the book of Acts that Paul only stayed in Philippi three Sabbaths. Just three weeks. How could you establish a relationship of that kind of trust in such a short time? Well, look at the last few verses of our section:
The “greet one another” commands.
“Greet every saint in Christ Jesus. The brothers who are with me greet you. 22 All the saints greet you, especially those of Caesar's household.” (Phil 4:21-22).
Have you ever considered why, in the providence of the Lord, these conclusions were included in Scripture? Many times we are given a long list of names that Paul greets (cf. Rom 16:1-16). Given how short Paul’s letters are, why would the Lord waste precious space on these greetings and farewells that have nothing do with us? Why is that? Notice, vs. 21 is actually a command given to us: we must greet every saint in Christ. Have you ever considered what it looks like for you to obey that command? Have you ever considered ways in which you may have broken that command? This means that Paul assumes that there is a relational obligation and connection between fellow Christians that exceeds other relationships. We are commanded to greet other Christians, to put a premium on the relationships of others who are united to Christ. “So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith,” Gal 6:10.
And because we are to be devoted to fellowship, this means that we share in one another’s troubles, we bear one another’s burdens. Why? Because we all have trusted in Jesus who has born our burden of sin for us, and that creates in us a desire to love one another similarly. “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.” (2 Cor 8:9). When we see what Christ has done for us, and then look around at the much smaller burdens of others around us, we naturally desire to move in and help in the same way Christ has helped us.
Practically speaking, this means that we should put a premium on the relationships with other believers around us, especially those within our church. We should prioritize time to spend together, to share meals with one another, to help one another move and fix one another’s lawn mowers or babysit or shovel each other’s driveways. Consider setting aside a small amount of money each month specifically with the aim of being available to use on blessing other people within the church.
Do you have needs yourself? Bring it to the church. We may not be able to always provide everything, but we can always strive to help in whatever way we can. Don’t deprive your brothers and sisters the joy of bearing a burden with you.
Love Seeks (17)
“Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit.” (Phil 4:17).
Vs. 17 Paul again wants to clarify so that the Philippians won’t be mistaken. In vs. 11-13, Paul’s clarification was for them to know that—while grateful for the support—Paul wasn’t banking on their support for his source of contentment—he has learned the secret to being content in any circumstance. Here, however, Paul is wanting to guard against the idea that his aim is the money itself. It isn’t. He is seeking something else: “fruit that increases to your credit” or “I seek the profit that accrues to your account.”
Paul’s main aim isn’t his own self-interest, but the Philippians’. Now, this is tricky. Paul thinks that the churches should financially support pastors and missionaries. “Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching. 18 For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer deserves his wages.” (1 Tim 5:17-18; cf. Gal 6:6; Rom 15:27; 1 Cor 9:11).
In fact, he refers to the financial gift that the Philippians gave him in vs. 18 as, “a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God.” It is an act of worship for Christians to use their money to care for the needs of the church. This is why most churches on Sunday for as long as churches have been around have made it a part of the worship service to include a collection of tithes and offerings. Our church does not practice this mainly because we are concerned that it may lead to a misunderstanding that to attend our worship services one must pay money. But we do not want anyone to get the idea that we think that what we do with our money is not a critical part of worship. It is! Paul thinks so.
And yet, Paul makes a careful distinction: though he thinks churches should support their pastors and missionaries, should give money to help others, he does not advocate this for his own good, but for the good of the givers.
“We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, 2 for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. 3 For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, 4 begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints… And in this matter I give my judgment: this benefits you, who a year ago started not only to do this work but also to desire to do it.” (2 Cor 8:1-4, 10)
Paul loves the Philippians, so he seeks their good, the “fruit that increases to your credit.” Here the “fruit” that Paul refers to is the Christian character he sees growing in the Philippians, but the phrase also has a financial overtone. Paul is using the language of an “investment manager: he desires “continuously increasing profits, daily compounding interest, and accumulating dividends for the Philippians' account.” In other words, Paul is encouraging them that their generosity to Paul is a wise investment that will pay rich dividends. Jesus exhorts us to lay up treasure in heaven, not on earth.
God loves you, and He desires your joy, He desires your fruit that increases to your credit.
Love Supplies (18-20)
“I have received full payment, and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God. 19 And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. (Phil 4:18-19)
Vs. 18 shows that Paul has received an overwhelming gift from the Philippians, he is “amply supplied.” The Philippians didn’t skimp on their support—Paul is overflowing with a superabundance of resources and funds now. But then, he provides this amazing promise as a boon and comfort to the Philippians: “my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”
Notice the “my” there? Paul has experienced the provision of the Lord himself so personally that he can speak to the Philippians about “my God who supplies everything you need.”
Christians should be abundantly generous because our God is abundantly generous. Paul has been supplied well by the Philippians, and then he turns around and insures them: God will supply you with what you need. Our zeal for generosity comes out of a deep assurance that God honors and provides Christians with everything they need to pursue the ministry of love.
6 The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. 7 Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.” (2 Cor 9:6-8)
There is a way that Christians can take a good and right vision of wisdom with finances, but have it morph into a kind of miserliness that has nothing to do with the Holy Spirit. The servant who buries his talent in the ground is rebuked, not rewarded. Ebenezer Scrooge may have had no credit card debt, but he is no model for those who follow Jesus. We should invest and spend our finances wisely and courageously as we seek to further the mission of the gospel through our support and care of one another and the missionaries we support. In our member’s meeting we will be discussing some ways we want to use the money the Lord has entrusted to us to invest in future opportunities of ministry.
“And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”
Do you see the storehouse that God is drawing from to supply your needs? “his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” That is the measurement of wealth that God draws upon to insure that you will be supplied with everything you need for life. If an angel were to come and take you on a tour in heaven of the storehouses of wealth in glory King Jesus has, how long would you be gone walking the hallways of that heavenly bank? How wealthy is the God who not only owns a cattle on a thousand hills, but who speaks our entire cosmos into existence? Will the wealth and riches of our God prove to be inadequate for your needs? Will his checks bounce? Friend, the God of the universe will richly supply every need of yours. So trust Him.
If you struggle with faith to believe that promise, consider what God has done in Christ. The Father did not even spare His own Son, but graciously gave Him up for us—how will He not then give us everything else we need? Friend, what more could the Father do to prove His commitment to you? What else could He offer to demonstrate that He will spare no expense for your good? The cross of Christ is a placard of God’s unfailing love and commitment to your good. You can count on the promises of God to be depended on—the offering of Jesus is the ultimate display of God’s love for you. The promises of God are something that you can stand upon, not merely print on coffee cups and throw pillows.