The phrase “Seeing Is Believing” is one that is heard a lot. It is just easier to believe in something if you can actually see it yourself. It is hard to deny that it isn’t true, if whatever it is; is right there before your eyes. Now, if someone told me that there was a tiger, for instance, in my back yard it would be very difficult to believe that was true unless I was able to see the tiger myself. If I looked out in the back yard, and there was indeed a tiger there, I would be rendered speechless to say the least. First thought would be I was glad I was in the house and then I would be glad because Charlie, our dog was in the house, second thought would be I need to take a picture of that tiger because no one is going to believe that there was a tiger in my back yard! Then I would make a call to the sheriff’s office or the game department or someone because why is there a tiger in my back yard?
So that analogy is a bit of a stretch but it helps make the point that it is easier to believe something if you can actually see it yourself. In the passage of John that I read today, the disciples were visited by Jesus soon after the resurrection. They were locked in a house, hoping that they would be safe there, not knowing exactly what was to happen next. Jesus came to them and said “Peace be with you”. He showed the disciples the wounds in his hands and his side, where he hung from the cross and where he was stabbed by the guard. Now one of the disciples, Thomas, wasn’t with them at that time. When the other disciples told Thomas that they had seen Jesus, he did not believe them. He said that he would have to put his hands on the marks on Jesus’s hands, and would have to put his hand in the hole on Jesus’s side to believe that it was really Jesus who came to see the disciples. Thomas had a point. It would have been difficult to believe what the other disciples said to him. How could he believe that Jesus came to the disciples for after all He died on the cross.
A week later the disciples were gathered once again and this time Thomas was with them. The doors were shut and locked and once again Jesus came to them saying “Peace be with you.” Then Jesus said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.” Thomas answered Him saying, “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 come to believe.” Thomas had the benefit of actually seeing Jesus and the wounds on his body so he was able to believe that Jesus had risen and that He was still there among them.
We don’t have the benefit of seeing Jesus in person to be able to believe in Him and to believe that He has risen. What Jesus told Thomas is so true, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.” We have to believe just with our faith, with our hearts that Jesus was crucified and that He has risen so that we will have eternal life. It would be so much easier to believe if I could be standing at the pulpit and say to you; “I would like to introduce to you my special guest for this morning’s service, Jesus Christ.” Seeing him there, you could think to yourself, why do I doubt that Jesus Christ is real, that He spent 3 years of His life spreading the good news about God, that He would ride into Jerusalem on a donkey, only to be persecuted, only to be betrayed, only to be crucified on the cross, and to rise again so that all of us who believe in Him will have eternal life.
This prayer says it well. God of peace, by whose breath the Holy Spirit enters our lives and transforms our community of faith, come to us now, whether we have opened or locked our doors. Lead us to faith beyond sight, trust beyond doubt, and deeds beyond words that we may live as your forgiven and forgiving children. We can believe!
In this time that we have been in for so long it seems; it is at times even more challenging to believe in Christ, to believe that God is there for all of us, to believe that we can get through this. But we can. With God’s help we can be strong, we can be patient, and we can persevere. We will be able to pick up the pieces and we can begin again. By believing whatever it is that we need to do or believe in, in our minds and in our hearts, it is possible. It is that way too when we wonder if Christ is real, we need to believe it in our minds because we can picture Christ in our minds and we need to believe it in our hearts because we can feel His love for us there. So it is possible to believe without seeing.
May you continue to stay strong, stay safe, and stay healthy remembering that God is there for us, even when we are not sure He is there. For He is there for all of us.