Believing is Seeing

Some Bible stories have been given the wrong titles over the centuries. The Prodigal Son in Luke 15 is about the Faithful Father who from a distance “saw him and he had compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him” Lk 15:20. In all three synoptic gospels, you have the story of the “Rich Young Ruler” but nowhere do the stories tell us his age and only Luke (18:18) uses the word archon which can mean ruler, official, or chieftain. We know for certain is that he was rich. Doubting Thomas is another misnamed person. He may have been slow on the uptake of what Jesus was planning. He may not have accepted his fellow disciple’s story of Easter, but he doesn’t doubt Jesus.

Nature of Belief

We need to have evidence if we’re going to believe. Missouri has been known as The Show Me State flowing from Congressman’s Vandiver’s comment, “frothy eloquence neither convinces nor satisfies me. I am from Missouri. You have got to show me (Ashcroft)." One of our annual Christmas movies is The Santa Clause. At the North Pole Tim Allen’s character, Scott Calvin is trying to wrap his head around things as he talks to Judy an elf. He asks, “Is that a polar bear directing traffic down there? I—I see it, but I don’t believe it (Pasquin).” Judy tells him he’s missing the point and says, “Seeing isn't believing: believing is seeing. Kids don't have to see this place to know that it's here. They just… know (Pasquin).”

The strength of one’s belief is directly tied to the importance of that in which we believe and put our trust. I can ‘believe’ or ‘not believe’ something I hear on the news. But the amount of energy with which I believe, my passion, will depend on the importance I attach to the object.

Eric Liddell an Olympian runner for Britain refused to run in a race in the Paris games in 1924 because the race was on Sunday, the Sabbath. Sally Magnusson reports that he was called before members of Britain’s Olympic Association and is accused of being impertinent by Lord Cadogan the chairman. Eric turns the tables on Cadogan and says, “The impertinence lies, sir, with those who seek to influence a man to deny his beliefs!"

Cadogan replied, "In my day it was King first and God after." To which the Duke of Sutherland says, “Yes, and the 'war to end wars' bitterly proved your point!”
There was no question mark in Thomas’ mind about Jesus. Look back at John 11. Here, Jesus is forced to plainly tell his disciples that Lazarus had died, and he was going to go to Bethany. Jesus had just risked being stoned in that area and now he is returning. It is Thomas, not John, James, or Peter who says, “to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him” (11:16). Thomas is so passionate about God and Christ’s mission that he is ready and willing to head off and die with Jesus.

In John 20 we have a grief-stricken Thomas lashing out at the other disciples as if they’d lost their minds. It was as if Charlie Brown’s teacher was saying her Blah, Blah, Blah. He must have felt about their story the way the disciples felt about the women’s story in Luke 24:11, “they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense.” The word for nonsense is that of birds chirping and chattering away in the brush.

Power of Belief

Keep in mind that John is not trying to replicate the stories in the other three gospels. He doesn’t refer to Jesus’ birth. He has no ‘Sermon on the Mount’ and no parables. But John goes into depth about the last night with Jesus in the upper room including chapters 13-18:12. Only John gives us this interaction between Thomas, the other disciples, and Jesus.

Thomas is not convinced that the first Easter evening. A week later when Jesus returns our Lord’s first action is to greet them with peace and turn toward Thomas to offer him the proof he desired. Thomas doesn’t touch Jesus' scars. Thomas doesn’t put his fist in Jesus’ side. He simply answers, “My Lord and my God”. "The personal pronoun is of vital importance 'my Lord, and my God.' He confesses to the risen Jesus that he belongs to him as his willing subject; he adores him and henceforth will serve him as he deserves (Beasley-Murray 386)."
When confronted with the presence of Jesus, Thomas proclaims a personal trust, faith, and belief in Jesus and His identity—"my Lord and my God”. When Jesus responds with “blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” in verse 29 he’s not rebuking Thomas. He is thinking of his prayer in John 17:20 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word”. These have seen, they’ve received God’s word, and are tasked with telling others of God’s love in Christ. Thus, there will also be people blessed who never see Jesus—who walked with him in the flesh.

Challenge of Belief

I believe there is subtle disbelief about Jesus’ resurrection. I know of a preacher who not only renounced any belief in God but who actively seeks to bait others into arguing with him about it. We believe, but do we believe like Thomas believed. Are we willing to follow Jesus to Jerusalem so we can die with him?
Is Jesus “Our Lord and Our God” to the extent that we would liquidate everything we own in order to follow Him or to purchase a seemingly worthless piece of land because of the treasure buried beneath it.
Maybe our belief in Jesus is really a crossed finger wish that God will just make everything nice. You know, calm, collected, neat—like we want it to be. I know I have wished for that from time-to-time. But God kills off the firstborn of an entire generation in Egypt. God creates, judges, and calls sinful humans to return and he does this, as Hebrews 1:1-2 say,

Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world..
We are reminded that the outcome of Jesus is “the salvation of our souls” because we are part of those who have not seen him. Peter writes, “Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy”.  How can Thomas and the others so readily follow this Messiah, this Christ? It is because Jesus is NOT an idea, concept, philosophical construct, worldview, theology, force, or one of many divine guides.
No, He is God, made flesh, fully human/fully divine. He is the exact likeness of the invisible God and if you can't get your mind around that--join the crowd. Jesus was arrested, tortured, mocked, executed and raised to life and exalted to the right hand of God the Father. And he did it so you and I; we, can receive eternal life, and be brought back into the fold of God. Grasp this fact and we too should be confessing to Jesus, “My Lord and My God. Let’s pray

Work’s Cited

Beasley-Murray, George R. John. Vol. 36. Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 1999. Print. Word Biblical Commentary.
Magnusson, Sally (1981). The Flying Scotsman, A Biography. New York, NY: Quartet Books Inc.. p. 160-170 quoted in Wikipedia accessed April 7, 2010
Pasquin, John. The Santa Clause. USA/Canada: Walt Disney Pictures, Hollywood Pictures, Outlaw Productions, 1994. DVD.


Ashcroft, John R. "Show Me State." Web. 16 Apr. 2020.
Beasley-Murray, George R. John. Vol. 36. Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 1999. Print. Word Biblical Commentary.

Bruce, F. F. The Gospel of John. 3rd ed. Eerdmans, 1994. Print.
Buchanan, Mark. “The Benefit of the Doubt.” Christianity Today 2000 : 62–67. Print.
Burge, Gary M. John. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 2000. Print. The NIV Application Commentary.
Carson, D. A. The Gospel According to John. Leicester, England; Grand Rapids, MI: Inter-Varsity Press; W.B. Eerdmans, 1991. Print. The Pillar New Testament Commentary.
Fredrikson, Roger L., and Lloyd J. Ogilvie. John. Vol. 27. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc, 1985. Print. The Preacher’s Commentary Series.
Goodykoontz, Emily. "Amanda Wasn’t about to be Fooled by a Text Scam. But this Time, it Really was a Portland Police Officer." The Oregonian 2019. Web. 15 Apr. 2020.
Magnusson, Sally (1981). The Flying Scotsman, A Biography. New York, NY: Quartet Books Inc.. p. 160-170 quoted in Wikipedia accessed April 7, 2010
McGrath, Stephen. "Romanian Court Gives Dead Man His Life Back." The 2018. Web. 15 Apr. 2020.
Pasquin, John. The Santa Clause. USA/Canada: Walt Disney Pictures, Hollywood Pictures, Outlaw Productions, 1994. DVD.
Pfeil, Richard. "Doubting Thomas." Sermon Central. 2005. Web. 14 Apr. 2020.
Sowards, Jack B. “Where Silence Has Lease” Star Trek: The Next Generation, Season 2, Episode 2 (11-28-88)
Walker, Shaun. "Romanian Court Tells Man He Is Not Alive." the Guardian. 2018. Web. 15 Apr. 2020.
Weihenmayer, Erik. "Tenacious E." Outside 2001: 55. Web. 15 Apr. 2020.


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