Updated: May 22, 2020
During times of uncertainty, we know that our God remains in control! The Eye On… Campaign was developed prior to the tragic outbreak of COVID-19. Our parent organization has released a statement, and our director, Mark Brink, has also addressed this crisis. We continue to partner with our colleagues and friends in praying for the Lord’s guidance and intervention, and we pray that you will be inspired, moved, and blessed by the Eye On… Campaign’s content as we focus on Muslims in Asia Pacific.
What was that moment like when you first believed?
In our tradition many would point to a moment when they said the sinner’s prayer or went forward in response to an altar call. But what caused you to say yes to Christ? There is a split second when, in the depths of our heart, we simply believe. This is what John experienced when he walked in and saw the grave, the cloth that had covered the face of the crucified Christ neatly folded off to the side. This had to be the greatest setup of all time or the greatest miracle. In these verses, we see the moment when John believed and knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that Jesus Christ had risen.
Although John outran Peter, he hesitated to go all the way and enter the tomb. Some have speculated that John feared defiling himself by going near a dead body. It’s also possible that the strong superstitions of the day made him afraid of the dead, or possibly a ghost. He did peek in, however, and he saw the abandoned grave wrappings. Then Peter arrived, and he went headlong into the tomb with little pause for any of the thoughts that concerned John. Often, when it comes to believing, one person’s courage can inspire someone else to follow and believe.
I wonder who you know that is on the edge of believing or going in? What’s keeping them outside? Is it a belief system that dictates what they should and shouldn’t do? Or is it a fear of going against everything they’ve convinced themselves to be true? Are they possibly waiting for someone to lead them to take the final step of looking and seeing for themselves? Might that someone be you?
The truth is, no one is so different form Peter and John; the curious, the searching, the hesitant – they are our neighbors, our co-workers, our family members, and our old friends. They also live in distant lands with longing hearts that just won’t be satisfied by anything other than an encounter with the risen Lord. They are waiting for someone to tell them about Jesus, who died on cross for their sins and rose to live again.
John seemed to be the first person to put it all together and understand that Jesus was risen from the dead. That spark that moment of belief, is something that men and women around the world are still waiting to experience. So, what will it take for a lot of such moments to take place? For starters, it’s evident from this story that not everyone enters the same way and at the same speed. Could we all agree that the Father in heaven wants all mankind to be saved and each person is on a journey to see that happen?
We can’t rush the moment. Let’s not get upset with people who may be, like John, at the edge of believing but hesitate to go in. Many things in their lives could be causing such hesitation. Unfortunately, sometimes in our rush to see people saved, we push them into the tomb, only traumatizing them rather than preserving the harvest and letting them have that moment when they say, “I believe”.
Imagine if, instead, as John was peering into the tomb, Peter snuck up behind him and pushed him in, knowing that John was more thoughtful than he was and would need a push. A sacred moment would have been ruined forever had it happened that way. Peter went as he did because he was Peter; John went in as he did because he was John. People from many tribes and tongues are waiting to go in, but many are just now peering in to get a better look.
Recently, I met a Muslim doctor who had treated a family member in the hospital. I asked him about his background, and when he found out I was a minister, he told me, “I grew up near a church. I used to just sit and get close to the windows and listen to the music and speaking because our tradition wouldn’t let us go in.” Something – tradition, lack of knowledge, lack of opportunity – is keeping millions from going in and confronting the truth of the Resurrection.
Will you pray with me for those who are still waiting to go in and believe for the first time?