Friday, April 21, 2017

John 20:19-31 Believing is Seeing

KEY TEXT: John 20:26-29 Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you."  Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe."  Thomas answered him, "My Lord and my God!" Jesus said to him, "Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." 

KEY THOT: Thomas' attitude towards truth is: "Unless I see... I will never believe" (v.25). It's the common attitude of the natural man--"seeing is believing". Jesus makes room for Thomas' natural scepticism by allowing him to believe by seeing: "Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe" (v.27). What was it that Thomas is called to believe? He answered it perfectly: "My Lord and my God!" (v.28). That is what Jesus wants us to believe--that He is both Lord and God. Jesus didn't repudiate Thomas' confession, but affirmed it: "Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed" (v.29). While Jesus did not reject Thomas' natural scepticism and the need for proof before believing, Jesus declared that it is not the best way to know spiritual reality. While the natural man says "seeing is believing", the spiritual man says "believing is seeing."

The natural man requires proof before believing. The spiritual man believes first and then see the proof of his faith as he acts on his belief. In actual fact, we all follow this principle on a daily basis: we believe first before seeing proof of it. For example, we get on board a plane without first checking out all the facts that this plane is air-worthy and the pilots flying it are qualified and trained: we believe these presuppositions first and get on board the plane. The experience of safe and smooth flight confirms our belief. If we need proof of everything before we believe, we would not move out of our house and die of hunger and thirst (refusing to eat because we have no proof that the food and drink we are consuming are not poisonous). God has ordained his creation to operate on faith, not scepticism.

The reason why we think it's natural to expect a "proof" of God before we believe is not because it is "smart" but because of our basic alienation from God. This alienation from God is what the Bible calls "sin": "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:21). The fundamental sin of all humankind is not against our neighbours or even against ourselves. The fundamental sin of humankind is unbelief in God. By rejecting God because of our self-will and pride, we reject also the principle that governs the world: believing is seeing. As it has been said: "There are none so blind as those who will not see".

We will only see "proofs" of God's existence when we believe and act accordingly: then will we experience His provision, His power, His presence and His protection. If we reject God's existence, we will not trust in Him and therefore see no evidence of His presence. And so we are confirmed in our unbelief by our lack of evidence and experience of His existence.

Father, deliver us from the sin of unbelief so that we may function optimally in Your kingdom. In Jesus' name, Amen.

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