May 9, 2009 by

John 20 – “Believing is Seeing”

Categories: Glimpses of Christ, Tags: , , , , ,

Imagine what it must have been like for Thomas to have lived among the others who had seen Jesus. For seven days, as close as he had been with Jesus and the 12, this insider became an outsider.

3-crosses-at-left-2READ JOHN 20:19-31

In His post resurrection appearances, Jesus deals with the disciples’ doubts, fears, and failures by applying His presence, peace, forgiveness and reinstatement to His call. This part of the story highlights the apostle Thomas who did not have the advantage of having the rendezvous with Jesus the other 10 disciples did.

A good friend of mine in my small group raised a great point: imagine what it must have been like for Thomas to have lived among the others who had seen Jesus. For seven days, as close as he had been with Jesus and the 12, this insider became an outsider. He didn’t have the personal encounter that the others had. Considering what that would have done to me, I am not sure that we should ever have attached to this faithful disciple the moniker “doubting”. Though Jesus does confronts this in Thomas,  I believe there is more here than meets our myopic glare.

After Jesus shows up and speaks specifically to Thomas’ demands, Thomas finally proclaims what in his heart He knew to be true but maybe too afraid to admit, that Jesus was indeed, resurrected Lord and God!
Suppose the reason John was inspired to write this was not to spotlight Thomas’ doubts (vs. 20:25), or to resolve the tension with Thomas’ triumphant affirmation of Jesus as God (vs. 20:28), but to feature Jesus’ pronouncement of the significant blessing to all who would believe in him without the benefits or privilege of actually seeing him as did the 11 disciples. Suppose Jesus, looking into the future as only He can, sensitive to those who might feel they were on the outside, or never measure up because they didn’t encounter Christ as the apostles did, established, once and for all, the foundation of his blessing and acceptance for those who would entrust their lives to Him without sight.

There would never be any reason for anyone trumping others because of their visually laying eyes on Jesus, a move that would seem to propel one to superstar status, and imply an inferiority for those who “can only believe” but would never have had actually seen. Seems like we place greater emphasis and prestige to those who have the ‘visions’, and sightings of divine phenomenon. Jesus makes it clear here that those who trust fully and simply embracing and accepting his promise based on his character and teaching are indeed blessed and thoroughly accepted by Christ with ‘superstar’ status!

I recall the story of Jesus healing of the centurion’s servant in Luke 7:1-10. It is one of the few passages where Jesus is described at be astonished by someone’ faith. This centurion didn’t have to have Jesus physically go to where the servant was. Empowered by the Spirit with eyes of faith, this gentile centurion recognized and respected Jesus’ authority in ways that no other Jew Israel did. He accepted Jesus for who He was and what He said He could do. That indeed, is marvel-ous! That kind of faith is also impressive and attractive to Christ. That kind of faith is evidence of an actual encounter that transcends the 5 senses and renders proof unnecessary.

That is where Thomas’ problem lay, and, quite frankly, mine. From time to time we demand God prove Himself and His Word on our terms rather than entrusting ourselves to His words on His terms. We want Him to adjust Himself to us rather than us adjust ourselves to Him. Again, the issue is not Thomas. It is Jesus making sure that it is clear that the kind of faith He prefers from us is the kind of trust that simply accepts Christ as He is without waiting for the kind of proof to accommodate our fears and doubts. For these kind of faith-full followers, Jesus isn’t coming to them. He already arrived.

John 20:30-31 does not celebrate or affirm faith with no facts but faith with no visual sight.

“Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book.  But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” John 20:30-31

The facts are recorded to facilitate faith. I believe that our brother, Thomas, was an illustration, not the main point. May we brandish the kind of faith that proves Jesus has already arrived and that before we see anything more, our hearts will have already delivered us into the greater depths of knowing Him through greater depths of trusting Him.

One Response to John 20 – “Believing is Seeing”

  1. Leo Wurschmidt

    It amazes me how God flips a lot of our notions upside-down. (At times) we feel insignificant as Christians if we have not had visions, sightings, or even the "aha" moment when we are saved; however, God shows us how truly significant all of us are who walk in the Body of Christ. I know I have had those insignificant feels every now and then.