How Deep is Unbelief
Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus. (Mark 3:6)
The Temple guards went back to the leading priests and the Pharisees, who asked, “Why didn’t you bring Jesus?" The guards answered, “The words he says are greater than the words of any other person who has ever spoken!" The Pharisees answered, “So Jesus has fooled you also, has he? Have any of the rulers or the Pharisees believed in him? No! " (John 7:45-48)
Then he came to Galilee, and the Galileans welcomed him, since they had seen all the miracles he had done in Jerusalem at the festival; for they too had gone to the festival. Then he came again to Cana in Galilee where he had changed the water into wine. Now there was a ruler whose son lay ill in Capernaum. When he heard that Jesus had come from Judea to Galilee, he went and begged him to come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death. The ruler said to him, “Sir, please come down before my little boy dies.” Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your son will live.” (John 4:45-49)
Do these two sets of verses seem strange to you? Because they should.
The Bible tells us that all the Jewish rulers and Pharisees were so against Jesus that they were conspiring how to put him to death. And then, here in John 4, we see one of them coming to Jesus and unashamedly begging for help.
So why did this ruler abandoned all the unbelief that he and his fellow Jewish leaders were wallowing in?
Very simple--he had become desperate. His son was dying and there was nothing any doctor could do to help the boy. The ruler and his family were out of options. Then suddenly, Jesus was there, with the fame of his healing power coming before him.
So, in desperation for his son's healing, this ruler abandoned his unbelief and rushed to Jesus!
Brothers and sisters in the Lord, this incident in the Bible reveals a massively important spiritual truth. Namely, that for most non-Christians in our world, their unbelief is only "brain-deep" not "life deep."
By this I mean, that most unbelievers will resist efforts by us to bring God and Jesus into their lives...UNTIL...they are desperate, usually with some terminal illness, or life altering event, that they or a loved one has. And then, if we offer to pray for them or read the Bible to them or to discuss Jesus with them...they will quickly accept our invitation and thank us profusely. This is because their unbelief is not "life deep" and crisis has a way of burning their "brain deep" unbelief out.
Now, there are a few people out there whose unbelief really is "life deep." One of them was Carl Sagan, the astronomer, who even in his battle with terminal cancer, would accept no one praying for him or let anyone talk to him about Jesus. But Sagan is the rare exception!
So what's the "SO WHAT?"
Simply this: Christians should never give up on anyone who is disinterested in hearing about the Lord, because, eventually their life will be gripped with crisis (as all our lives are at some point). Their unbelief will often evaporate like a mist and they will gladly embrace our offers to pray for them and to speak with them about the hope that is only found in Jesus.