If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things? (John 3:12, ESV)
In the third chapter of John, Nicodemus came to Jesus and acknowledged that Jesus came from God. This Jewish leader was beginning to believe in Jesus, yet Jesus saw that he was struggling with who Jesus really was. As their conversation continued, Jesus challenged Nicodemus directly in verse 12 (above) and then gave him this wonderful news:
… that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. (John 3:15-18, ESV)
The second birth—this new life—comes through believing in Jesus Christ. God loves all people so much that he gave his only son for us. Believing in him means we will have eternal life. It sure is a “heavenly thing” to believe that God loves us so much that he doesn’t want us to miss out on eternal life. Nicodemus took action to address his limited belief. He went to Jesus with his questions and listened to the Lord’s answers.
Do you believe some things and struggle to believe other things? In your conflict with another person, are there “earthly” or “heavenly” things you can’t believe? Jesus died for the sins of the person you’re angry with. And Jesus also died for your sin of anger at yourself. Hear me, please: If you struggle to believe when Jesus tells you earthly things, you probably won’t believe when he tells you heavenly things.
One day Jesus talked to a father about belief. The man’s son had a terrible affliction—a spirit that made him mute and caused episodes of violent self-harm. The father was desperate to have Jesus heal his son. Jesus did heal the boy and then had a life-changing conversation with the father.
[The father said] “And many times it has thrown him into fire or water to destroy him. But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.”
Jesus said to him, “‘If you can?’ Everything is possible for the one who believes.”
Immediately the father of the boy cried out, “I do believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:22-24, CSB)
Lord, I do believe, but I also struggle to believe, so please help my unbelief, build my faith, and show me yourself.… Continue praying.