Legend has it that the Danish, Nobel-prize-winning physicist, Niels Bohr had his desk in the shape of a horseshoe, securely nailed to the wall with the open end up so it would catch good luck and not let it spill out.
Once an American scientist visited Bohr in Copenhagen. Amazed to see the desk, he asked with a nervous laugh, “Surely you don’t believe the horseshoe will bring you good luck, do you, Professor Bohr?
“After all, as a scientist,” Bohr chuckled, “I believe no such thing, my good friend. Not at all. I am scarcely likely to believe in such foolish nonsense. However, I am told that a horseshoe will bring you good luck whether you believe in it or not.”
It’s often said that “Everybody believes in something.” And that something may be superstition. Unproven scientific hypothesis. Philosophical tenets. Popular myths. Political platforms. Ritualistic religion. Cultural traditions. Or even one’s own self.
What we believe, however, ought to tempered with the caveat offered by Richard Whately, the 19th-century English theologian who cautioned, “As one may bring himself to believe almost anything he is inclined to believe, it makes all the difference whether we begin or end with the inquiry, ‘What is truth?’”
Some form of the word “believe” is found 101 times in John’s gospel. In fact, he states his purpose in writing is “that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name” (Jn. 20:31).
The synoptic gospels were not written to give a complete biography of Jesus’s life. And neither is John’s unique book. It’s selective, not an exhaustive record of everything Jesus did or said. But it’s written to provide evidence that He was the fulfillment of Messianic prophecy. That we believe in Him as our Savior. Our Lord. And our Master.
To paraphrase Barclay, John’s aim was, “not to give information, but to give life. It was to paint such a picture of Jesus that the reader would be bound to see that the person who could speak and teach and act and heal like this could be none other than the Son of God; and that in that belief he might find the secret of real life.”
In addition to the testimony of Jesus’ contemporaries, His works, and the Father’s witness, we have Jesus own bold assertions and affirmations.
“I am the bread of life” (Jn. 6:48).
“I am in the world, I am the light of the world” (Jn. 9:35).
“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (Jn. 14:6)
“I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. (Jn. 11:25-26).
If you don’t believe in Jesus, or if your faith is wavering, you owe it to yourself to carefully examine John’s gospel of evidence. Reading it, causes us to agree with C. S. Lewis, who wrote:
“A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else He would be the Devil of Hell.
“You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”
Finally, as a caution to Christians, don’t allow your belief in Jesus to merely be academic or intellectual. Believe in Him with your whole heart. Believe in good times and bad. Believe when it’s easy and when it’s hard. Believe when it’s popular and when it’s unpopular. Believe in both prosperity and adversity. Believe in life and in the face of death.
As Jesus asked Martha, the sister of Lazarus whom He raised from the dead, “Do you believe?”
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman