There’s an odd verse in the resurrection story in John. After Mary Mags comes running back to the disciples with news that the corpse of Jesus is missing, Peter and the B.D. (Beloved Disciple) sprint to the tomb. They both look at the grave clothes lying there.
Here’s the verse that’s crazy: “Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead” (John 20:8-9)
Now, if you’re religious, and you’ve heard this story before, you probably didn’t notice anything unusual in the sentence. But here’s the crazy thing:
What did the other disciple, the B.D., actually believe?
Most people respond, “the resurrection,” but nobody has told them that Jesus has been raised. The author tells us in the very next sentence they didn’t understand the scriptures or that Jesus must be raised. There is no content, no X that the B.D. can believe in. All they know is that someone has taken the body. There is no gospel, no angelic announcement, no one telling them that Jesus is alive. But the B.D. believes.
We so often assume that “believing” means “agreeing that such-and-such must be true,” but what we get here is something that precedes even knowing what it is you’re supposed to believe. The B.D. just looks at some folded laundry and believes. Something in him clicks, and he can’t even put his finger on what it is yet.
We use “believe” in this way when we talk about believing in yourself, believing in someone else, believing in a vision. Faith. “Believe” in this context doesn’t mean accepting a statement as a fact—it means this desperate, hopeful something at the core of our existence.
We do not yet know where God is taking us, but we are embarked on the journey, following where God leads.The invitation to believe is not about blind faith, but about trusting the one who leads us.