Jesus said to him, “Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.” John 20.29
What is there in our lives about which you refuse to believe in God’s goodness? Of which we say, unless God does this for me, I will not believe Him? I think something like that must have been happening in Thomas. He had seen His beautiful master crucified and buried. All the hopes that burned in his heart during his moments with Jesus over the past few years had been extinguished.
“Fool me once…”
We know the account: Jesus had appeared to the other ten disciples. Thomas had not been there and insisted,
“Unless I see in His hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.” John 20.25
When Jesus did appear to Thomas, He gave Thomas what he demanded, perhaps what he needed at that point in his life: physical proof of the scars from the crucifixion; but our compassionate Lord also pointed His disciple, and all of us who would be His disciples, to a better way, the way of blessing, the way of life.
What is the essential truth behind our Master’s words? Why is it that we are blessed when we believe without seeing?
Messiah Jesus and the Apostle John both speak about seeing and believing. In John 3, Jesus says to Nicodemus,
“we speak of what we know and testify of what we have seen, and you do not accept our testimony.”
In his first letter, John writes,
“what we have seen with our eyes”
“we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life.”
Jesus tells Nicodemus that the seeing that has value comes from being born from above, that we cannot see the kingdom of God until this happens. The seeing that Thomas insisted upon was a physical seeing. The seeing of the kingdom to which Jesus pointed is clearly spiritual, only occurring when a spiritual birth has occurred in a person.
The blessing of believing without seeing, however, deals not only with a spiritual rather than physical sight, it goes down into the very nature of reality. For, as we shall see from the Scriptures, God Himself is invisible and we ourselves are first and foremost invisible as well, even if we have these visible, physical bodies.
In Paul we find several verses that point to the invisible nature of God. In Romans 1:20, Paul refers to God’s “invisible attributes.” In Colossians 1:15, he refers to “the invisible God.” Finally, in 1 Timothy 1:17, he states,
“Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God…”
John tells us in the first chapter of his gospel that “No one has seen God at any time.”
So God, according to these and other scriptures, is invisible; but He is not the only thing invisible. In Colossians 1:16, Paul writes,
“For by Him all things were created, in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible“
Among the invisible things in creation we might list angels and spirits. We should also include ourselves. Though we have a physical body that may be seen with the eye, what we are essentially, an immortal soul, is not visible. Our physical bodies are merely a sign of, or a pointer to, a greater reality that is largely obscured. While people who have been filled with the Holy Spirit have the potential to see more clearly into the nature of the human soul than others, Paul tells us that, still, we “see… darkly.”
And so we can understand how believing what we have not seen is a condition to being blessed as Jesus told Thomas. Without believing in what we cannot see, we will never be able to walk in the deepest realities of God’s creation and of God Himself.
In fact, faith that is placed in what can be seen is destined to be disappointed and come to nothing. The Scriptures tell us that everything that can be shaken will be and that the heavens and earth will be destroyed:
“the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.”
Now I would like to present an example from the Scriptures that we can apply to our daily walk as believers.
In Ephesians 1:20, Paul tells us that Aba has seated Messiah Jesus at His right hand:
“when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly.”
Then in the next chapter, Paul tells his readers that we too are seated in the heavenliness in Messiah Jesus (2:6). It is important to note that Paul writes about this reality in the present tense. It is not something that is waiting for a future in which to be fulfilled – it is true right now.
Can you see it?
No. It is invisible.
Because it is invisible, does it make it less true? No.
However, for those of us with our eyes on this physical world, it does, in a practical sense, make it less true. We are so busy earning a living or taking care of this or that worry that we have no time to see past the visible to the greater reality that lies beyond our vision. We are missing the blessing that comes from putting our faith in the invisible reality that – right now – we are seated in the presence of Messiah Jesus in the heavens.
I encourage you to take a few moments right now to walk in that invisible reality that Paul writes about. I will be here when you get back.
Let us not be like Thomas was at that point in his walk, refusing to be fools for Jesus; saying that the circumstances of our life have been too hard and that we will believe what we are required to believe as “good Christians” but not one bit more. Instead, let us be willing to venture out on God’s wonderful goodness, not thinking bad things of Him that are really the result of our own fallen way of seeing things.
We are always falling away it seems. Always more concerned with the visible world that we can see than we are with God or with the invisible souls of our brothers and sisters that we cannot see with our eyes.
How will we do better?
We will not do better by the mere resolution to do better; but we can, forsaking self, seek to allow God to have His way in us. He will deliver us from our self-consciousness and replace that terrible burden with consciousness of His infinite and invisible being. If we will look to Him, taking our eyes off of ourselves and off of our circumstances, especially the ones that seem particularly pressing at this moment, He will work the faith in us that believes, without seeing, in His absolute, perfect goodness and love toward us.
By way of thanks for his input into my life over the past several years, I’ll close with the following quote from George MacDonald’s sermon, “Life in Christ” from the book, Getting to Know Jesus:
But, friends, some of you have come to Christ to get life in some way or other. You are always trying to get near Him, and some of you have come a step nearer to Him; but you have not life enough yet. You know it well. Which of us would dare to say: “This will do now, I may go on now?” Yes, we are ready to think that when we have offered up a prayer sometimes, we have felt as if God had heard us, and that He was near us, we have then sometimes felt as if we could go on a little bit. It is a great mistake. For the moment we think we can do, and then we are beginning to slip away. It is an everlasting, continuous reaching up and trusting and yielding to the possession of God that will keep us ever in the way. You know many of you are so busy, and you are not able to think two things at once, and so suddenly you come to be aware that you have been forgetting God, and that life has not been in you, and that you have been wandering this way and that way, trying to make money or doing your duty in the world. Oh, it is not wickedness only that makes it difficult for us. But then, when you wake up, did it ever occur to you, or does it occur to you, that it is He that is calling you?
Oh, make yourselves glad with this thought, that when you have been forgetting Him, and have thought of Him, it is He that is calling you, ‘Come unto Me and have life.’ So we have just to lift up our hearts to Him for more life, and brace ourselves to the thing He tells us to do, whatever it be, even the duty that has been making us forget Him, we have to do it with Him instead of without Him.
This article was written by John Hellein, Fellowship Church in Winter Springs, Florida