The Faith of Disciples: But When?

What if Jesus turned out to be just a normal guy? Or worse, just another crackpot with a messiah complex and a lust for power and a flair for theatrics?

What would you do (as a believer or not) if proof arose that, instead of being the son of God, he turned out to be nothing more than the son of . . . Joseph.

That’s a question we eventually all face, whether you ever cross the line of faith or not. In fact the entire past, present and future of Christianity rests on the answer to that very question. But I’m not wanting to instigate a major philosophical debate here. I’m talking more personally.

What would you do? Would anything change about the way you live your life? Right now, today?  Why, or why not?  Do you think living the way Jesus asks us to live is nothing more than a “get out of hell free” card? Or more of a moral compass? Or a waste of time?

I’ve been thinking about what it means to have “faith like the disciples” lately. That’s a popular topic among some Christian circles; having “faith like the disciples”. I think that’s also a very unfair comparison and/or expectation for today’s believers to aspire to. Sure, we’ve been given the Bible, and I’m sure we can spout volumes of historical documentation to the truthfulness within those pages. But we weren’t alive during those times. The Gospels–in fact most all of the New Testament books–were written by first hand eye-witnesses to the life and times of Jesus. Imagine the awe and wonder of being one of Jesus’ disciples, or even being one of those people healed by Jesus or one of the children blessed by Him. How much easier would it have been to witness all these signs and miracles and believe that Christ was exactly who He says He was. And yet today we’re supposed to have faith like that?

That’s a pretty tall mountain, don’t you think?

Here’s a scenario I think resonates more deeply with people today, whether you have any kind of faith in Christ or not . . .

Imagine being a disciple of Christ the day after his crucifixion.

How’s your faith now?

The one, or the One, who you’ve put all your belief in, all your faith and hopes, has just died . . .

. . . Like a normal guy.

NOW what do you think, believe, or hope for?

Even before He died, while he was still on His way to the cross, Peter was all, “No, I’m not with him! I don’t even know him!” Three different times! (How often have we ever done that?)

Imagine, after His death, the trust and conviction necessary to keep believing that Jesus truly was who He said He was. Could you do it? Did they? Do you think there may have been a few doubts? A few questions? Maybe a little anger? Disillusionment?

I do. It sounds kind of like me sometimes.

I mean, how could you not? The disciples were human after all, and Jesus was supposed to be . . . God! Now He’s dead. How hard must it have been to maintain the level of faith and belief they had when He was alive? To maintain any faith at all?

Like C.S. Lewis has said, Jesus either was exactly who He said He was; the Son of God: Or he was a lunatic; a crackpot with a messiah complex and a lust for power and a flair for theatrics.

He didn’t leave room for anything else.

He wasn’t just a “nice guy”. If He isn’t who He says He is, look how many people he misled . . . and continues to mislead to this very day.

He wasn’t just another prophet. You don’t lay claim to be the Son of God, the Messiah and the king of the Jews as just another prophet.

You and I have a choice, as does everyone, as to whether He is who He claimed or not.

No, I’m pretty sure I don’t have the faith of a first century disciple, unless you want to talk about that first day or two after Christ’s death. But I guess even having “some” faith is the whole basis of belief in the first place. As long as it doesn’t end up being the sum total of your life’s quest for answers. “Some” faith is a good starting point for further growth; a further seeking of answers.

And you and I have a choice.

And you’re to have the faith like a disciple.

And it’s the day after He was crucified. Now . . .

What would Jesus you do?

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2 thoughts on “The Faith of Disciples: But When?”

  1. I wanted to post on this a couple of days ago, but realized your article deserved some real contemplation before I commented. If I had been a follower of Christ during his time on earth I would have been devastated by his cruel death. But lose my faith? I don’t think so. I would hope that I would have experienced Christ’s promise to his disciples that John recorded:
    “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.”
    -John 14:26 Jesus prophesied to the disciples of his death many times, but it was too horrendous for them to really take in. I think they were hoping there was another way–some way out, some loophole that would allow him to circumvent it. I have to be honest and say that I would probably have done as Peter did out of my fear that they would also kill me if I bore witness of Christ. I would not have lost my faith in the Savior, but I would not have been valiant in my witness of him because of my fear. Like Peter, I would have gone out afterward and “wept bitterly.”

    When I pray I don’t experience heavenly choirs or angelic manifestations, BUT I have on many occasions experienced the Saviors promises of comfort, guidance, knowledge and inspiration through the ministrations of the Holy Ghost. There have been experiences that have left indelible markings on my soul. I remember one occasion that I feared my faith was not what it should be—I prayed for confirmation that what I believed was really true. It did not happen on my knees but the answer did come as I went about my daily tasks. The thought came into my mind, with great power: “You have had many witnesses of the Savior.” That thought hit me with such force I was in tears. And I KNEW IT WAS TRUE! I HAVE had many witness by the power of the Holy Ghost–the still small voice–sometimes it is very peaceful and reassuring, sometimes more powerful–but this I know: it is very real. When we empty our minds of the worldly noise all around us and seek Jesus Christ we DO receive confirmations.

    Sometimes we have to wait in patience and rely on our present faith. Sometimes I have to recall spiritual light I have received in the past to keep me going, which is a very good reason to keep a journal. I do not just believe–I KNOW that Jesus Christ was exactly who he said he was, the Son of God and our Savior. I KNOW that he loves all men and women and we need to have eyes to see and receive that love every day. There are witnesses all around us—the beauty of the earth, the goodness I see in others, the precious creation of our children and their purity and innocence—the miraculous workings of the human body and also the universe–the evidences of Him are endless.

    I have also experienced great trials in my life—the death of a child, a failed business and bankruptcy,the loss of my home in California and all of our equity, talking to my son through the glass at jail, and serious clinical depression. These were things that ripped my heart out, but I know the Lord never abandoned me once, even though it felt like it at times. My faith is not dependent on my life being peachy-keen. There is no growth in peachy-keen. When a person’s faith is founded on God always protecting, always giving us what we want (as C.S. Lewis says, like a jolly Santa Claus God) that faith is based on a sandy foundation. My faith is that no matter what happens to me I believe in Christ. (I hope that writing that statement is not like waving a red flag at Satan.)

    Just a note: My son’s experience happened many years ago and He is now happily married with wonderful children –I believe that God helped him change his life.

    1. I would expect nothing less in a reply from you Maryann than everything you so eloquently stated above. My mission in writing these blogs is in finding those souls caught in the “in between”. Those that may have had rough experiences, whether in their own lives or through seeing the actions of others that call themselves “Christian” but act anything but. I’m not perfect and that’s my point. God doesn’t want us perfect, He just wants us. And he wants us to want him. When we pass from this life to the next then we’ll talk about perfection. But until then, we just do what we can do.

      I still think it would have been hard to maintain belief in something or someone so unerringly after witnessing everything you’ve been living for brutally taken from you and buried. I’m not saying that any of the disciples lost their faith, but it couldn’t have been an easy couple of days. THAT was my point. We live in a world very far removed from the life and times of the disciples. Our faith in Jesus is just that, a faith. Does it waiver from time to time? Absolutely; we’re human after all. Does it fail? For some people, on occasion, sadly yes.

      That’s why I’m here.

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