Faith is Believing Without Seeing
John 20:24-29 addresses the call to believe without seeing, but Thomas wasn’t willing. The importance of this event lies in the fact that it presents the relation between seeing and believing. More specifically, it shows the significance of believing after, or because of, having seen the risen Christ, and believing without having seen him.
The example of doubting Thomas provides both instruction and encouragement. After being told by the other disciples of Jesus’ resurrection and personal visit, Thomas “doubted” and wanted physical proof of the risen Lord in order to believe this good news. The testimony Thomas received from the other 10 disciples about Jesus’ return should have been enough, but still he doubted – even after spending three years being intimately acquainted with Jesus, witnessing all His miracles and hearing His prophecies about His coming death and resurrection.
The event occurred eight days after the appearance of Jesus to the other disciples. After greeting them with the traditional, “Peace be with you,” without any delay Jesus turns to Thomas and addresses him; knowing his human frailty resulted in weakened faith, He accommodated Thomas by inviting him to proceed with the demanded test.
The doubt Thomas experienced is not unlike our own when we face challenges in our life. Although Thomas did in fact doubt the Lord’s resurrection appearance, once he saw the risen Christ, he proclaimed in faith, “My Lord and my God” (Jn. 20:28). Jesus commended him for his faith, although that faith was based on sight. “Because you have seen me, you have believed.”
The encouraging part for all of us today is when Jesus also says, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed (Jn. 20:29),” thus enabling us to believe that which we do not see with our eyes. This same thought is echoed by Peter, who said of Christ, “Although you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, for you are receiving the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” (1 Peter 1:8-9).
Although we have the Spirit within us, we can still experience doubt. True saving faith always perseveres to the end just as Thomas’s did, and just as Peter’s did after he had a monumental moment of weakness by denying the Lord he loved and believed in.
So how do we keep from doubting as Thomas did? We must go to God in prayer when experiencing doubt. Sanctification is the process of growing in Him, which includes times of doubt and times of great faith. Like the man who brought his demon-possessed child to Jesus but was unsure whether Jesus could help him, we go to God because we believe in Him and ask Him for more and greater faith to overcome our doubts, saying, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:17-27).
Final Thoughts: “Faith is permitting ourselves to be seized by the things we do not see.” Martin Luther
“To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible.”