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Woman, Believe Me

Woman, Believe Me

Woman, believe Me. — from John 4:4–26

“There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him.”1

Believe. The Gospel of John uses the word eighty-four times. This use is the first. “That all might believe through him.”

John continued, “He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light. The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, yet the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own people did not receive Him. But to all who did receive Him, who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.”2

Looking back to the garden, at what was lost, this is one of the most astounding statements in Scripture: “To all who did receive Him, who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God.” Think through the ramifications. The undoing of what was done in the garden? Can you see the progression? From orphan. To child. To heir.

Okay, but how do we do that? Sounds a bit too good to be true. According to Scripture, we receive and believe in. But what does that mean?

It’s one thing to believe that His words are true and that Jesus is the Son of God, and it’s quite another to believe in Jesus as the Son of God and place our whole trust in Him.

In short, “believing that” is not “believing in.” Many “believe that,” but far fewer “believe in.” And Jesus wants disciples who “believe in.” Let’s look first for examples of what it means to “believe in.” Get ready, Jesus is about to use the word believe twenty-two times in just the first five chapters of John. He did so to make a point. Jesus is invited to a wedding in Cana where He performs an undeniable sign, witnessed by several, in which He turns water to wine. Of this John recorded, “This, the first of His signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested His glory. And His disciples believed in Him.”3

Following the miracle at Cana, Jesus goes up to Jerusalem for Passover; and first thing, He walks into the temple, makes a whip of cords, and cleans house, driving everyone out. “Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade.”4 Jesus is not angry that they are selling animals. He is angry they are selling blemished animals and profiting off fellow Jews who had traveled long distances intent on obeying the Law and offering a sacrifice, only to be charged an exorbitant price.

The Jews, who can’t stand the fact that Jesus has just called God His Father, want a sign to support His authority to do what He’s done. Jesus then says something they can’t understand: “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.”5 They think He’s talking about the actual temple, which took forty-six years to build, but He’s talking about His body. “When therefore He was raised from the dead, His disciples remembered that He had said this, and they believed the Scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.”6 The very next verse goes on to say,

“When He was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many believed in His name when they saw the signs that He was doing.”7

While in Jerusalem, Jesus bumps into Nicodemus, who asks how a man can be born again. This is the first real conversation about what it means to become a child of God.

  • Jesus answers, “You must be born again.”

Nicodemus scratches his head, “How can this be?” Jesus puts it in language Nicodemus can understand. “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him may have eternal life.”8

Which brings us to the most famous verses in all of Scripture.

“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.”9

Jesus then walks into the Judean countryside with His disciples and begins baptizing people. (His disciples did the baptizing.) Coincidentally, John the Baptizer is also baptizing people. A local Jew notices the two camps and the possible competition for followers and begins a conversation with John the Baptist. John responds, “I am not the Christ” and then goes on to point out, “The Father loves the Son and has given all things into His hand. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.”10

When Jesus realizes that the Pharisees have heard that He and John are baptizing and that Jesus is baptizing more disciples than John, Jesus departs Judea for Galilee. To do so, He passes through Samaria and a town called Sychar. Being thirsty, He stops at Jacob’s well about noon when a woman from Samaria stops to draw water, and Jesus says to her, “Give Me a drink.”11 This is unusual in that Jews and Samaritans have been enemies a long time. Regardless, Jesus engages her in conversation about the water, her husbands, and how He is the Messiah. In the middle of the conversation, Jesus says this: “Woman, believe Me.” He then goes on to talk about worship. Seconds later, the woman says, “I know that Messiah is coming (He who is called Christ). When He comes, He will tell us all things.” To this, Jesus responds: “I who speak to you am He.”12

These are mind-blowing words.

Believe Me — I am the Messiah.”

Jesus leaves Samaria, where “many believed” based on the testimony of the woman — which might make her the first evangelist — and He walks by a pool at the Sheep Gate called Bethesda. The sick, blind, lame, and withered are waiting for an angel to stir the waters because the first one in after the stirring will be made well. Jesus speaks to a man who has been lying there thirty-eight years and asks him, “Do you wish to get well?”13 The sick man responds, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool.”14 So Jesus, who is the fount of living waters, says “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.”15 Which the man does.

The Pharisees are watching Jesus through skeptical eyes. Trying to trap Him. “Therefore the Jews sought all the more to kill Him, because He not only broke the Sabbath, but also said that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God.”16

There it is. The reason they killed Him. Because He called God His Father and claimed to be the Son of God.

Which He is.

Jesus responds with this: “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears My word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.”17

Five chapters into John’s gospel and he’s now used the word believe twenty-two times. Over the course of his gospel, John used it eighty-four times! As a writer, if I mention something twenty-two times in the first five chapters of any book I write, trust me, I’m beating you over the head. It’s akin to ringing a church bell three feet from your ear. I’m wanting you to hear me. I’m telegraphing that this is probably the most important thing.

Why does Jesus do this?

After Jesus walks on water, a crowd gathers and asks Him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?”18 Jesus answers it simply: “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.”19 Then, moments later, He says this: “For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in Him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”20

  • Because without “belief in,” there is no life.

The word believe comes from the Greek word pisteuo, and while it means to intellectually comprehend and agree with someone or some concept, pisteuo is more than that. It not only means to comprehend; it means to “put your trust in.” Completely.

Suppose you and I are standing on the side of a vast bridge that crosses a chasm several thousand feet deep. And as we sit there watching, people walk to the middle of the bridge, wrap a strap around their ankles, climb up on the railing, and take a swan dive out over the edge, falling thousands of feet, before the bungee snaps them back to the bridge. It’s one thing for us to stand on the side and remark, “I believe that bungee will hold me if I were to do the same.” It’s another thing entirely to walk out on the bridge, strap in, and take a Peter Pan off the railing. One is believing that it will hold us. The other is believing in its ability to hold us and then trusting in it — entirely — to do just that.

Big difference.

We pisteuo in a chair or swing when we sit on it. We pisteuo in a bridge when we drive across it. We pisteuo in an elevator when the doors close and it either ascends or descends. And we pisteuo in the bungee when we lock it around our ankles and dive.

Belief that is little more than an intellectual exercise that never strays far from the safe recesses of our minds. Belief that is faithlessness in action. It requires nothing. No commitment. No buy-in. Just cavalier indifference on display. While belief in flows from our guts. The same place we feel butterflies. Fear. Courage. And gumption. Down where our love lives.

  1. John 1:6–7.
  2. John 1:8–13.
  3. John 2:11.
  4. John 2:16.
  5. John 2:19.
  6. John 2:22.
  7. John 2:23.
  8. John 3:14–15.
  9. John 3:16–18.
  10. John 3:28, 35–36.
  11. John 4:7.
  12. John 4:21–26.
  13. John 5:6 NASB.
  14. John 5:7.
  15. John 5:8 NIV.
  16. John 5:18 NKJV.
  17. John 5:24.
  18. John 6:28.
  19. John 6:29.
  20. John 6:40.

Excerpted with permission from It Is Finished by Charles Martin, copyright Charles Martin.

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Your Turn

Do you pisteuo in Jesus as your Savior? Do you put your whole faith in Him? You must be born again to be saved. Jesus came for you! Believe Him! ~ Devotionals Daily