“Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” – John 20:29b

 

Are you a skeptic, a doubter, just closed and disinterested in the things of God? Maybe you won’t read beyond this first sentence. I encourage you to reconsider. Doesn’t just a little part of you have an interest in what those “Christians” believe? Does a little part of you wish it were all true? Are you a show me type of person who wants the facts laid out on the table before you’ll accept anything as truth? Please bear with me for a moment. Let us take a walk through the word of God, through a passage of scripture about someone that was just like you, a doubter.

Soon after Jesus had risen from the dead, He met with His disciples. They were overwhelmed with His actual resurrection. But one of the disciples wasn’t present at Jesus’ appearance. And he wasn’t going to settle for mere words. The conversation went as follows:

John 20:24-29 (NKJV) – 24 Now Thomas, called the Twin, one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 The other disciples therefore said to him, “We have seen the Lord.” So he said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.”

26 And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, “Peace to you!” 27 Then He said to Thomas, “Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.”

28 And Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!”

29 Jesus said to him, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

 

The context of this passage is the resurrection of Jesus. The word “resurrection” (Greek anastasis) means a standing up again, a resurrection from death, raised to life again, resurrection, rise from the dead. Maybe you flat out reject the idea of a resurrection. But you have to admit Jesus’ “resurrection” has had quite a historical impact on the world. Consider the following.

The Bible records individual “resurrections”:

These are all “lesser” resurrections in the sense that those resurrected would eventually die again.

Jesus is the “first fruits” of the Resurrection:

1 Corinthians 15:20–23 (NKJV) – 20 But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. 23 But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming.

Jesus is the first One to resurrect and never die again.

The Proofs of the Resurrection

The proofs or evidences in support of the resurrection of Jesus can be summarized as follows:

  1. The empty tomb of Jesus – Jesus predicted that He would rise from the dead (Mark 8:31 and Luke 9:22). This is the greatest proof of Jesus’ resurrection. There was no denying the tomb was empty and the enemies of Jesus could have easily proven the resurrection false if they produced the body of Jesus, but they did not, they could not.

 

  1. The early creedal witness of the Church – Included in the New Testament are creedal statements affirming the resurrection of Jesus. In the times of Christ creeds were a way to assure people rightly held to the truths of the faith. In 1 Corinthians 15:3-7 we find a creed that dates to the earliest times of the Church only months from the time of the actual events. The basic affirmations of this creed are: 1. Christ died. 2. He was buried. 3. He was raised. 4. He appeared.

 

  1. The prominence of women as witnesses in the account – women were second class citizens in society at this time. The authenticity of the historical account is supported by the fact that women were eyewitnesses of the resurrection of Jesus. If this account was contrived women would not have been included in the account.

 

  1. Jesus Apostles change from cowardice to courage – There was an undeniable change in the disciples as a result of the resurrection. Before the resurrection all the disciples abandoned Jesus. After the resurrection (and in the power of the Holy Spirit – Acts 1 and 2) the disciples were willing to give their lives for the truth of Jesus and His resurrection. People will die for what they believe is true, but they will not die for what they believe is a lie.

 

  1. The changed life of James – James, Jesus’ brother, was skeptical of Jesus Messiahship at first (e.g., Mark 3:21, 31-35; 6:3-4; John 7:5), but after the resurrection and seeing Jesus, James became a pillar in the Church (Acts 15:12-21).

 

  1. Hundreds of Eyewitnesses – 1 Corinthians 15:6 states there were over 500 eyewitnesses to the resurrection of Jesus. The Apostle Paul claimed to have seen the risen Lord Jesus (Acts 9:1-19; 22:6-16; 26:12-23)/ These witnesses were still alive when 1 Corinthians was written. The corroborating testimony of so many eyewitnesses is very persuasive proof of the truth of the resurrection of Jesus.

 

  1. The conversion of Saul to Paul – Rabbi Saul was a persecutor of the early church. But when the risen Christ confronted him on the road to Damascus, persecutor Saul was converted to the Apostle Paul (Acts 9). The conversion of such a skeptic is proof of the truth and power of the resurrection.

 

  1. The willingness of Jesus’ followers to die for Him – Throughout history people have given their lives rather than deny the truth of the resurrection of Jesus.. All of the original Apostles except for John, gave their lives in brutal deaths rather than deny Jesus. This is proof of the power and certainty these people had in Jesus and His resurrection.

 

  1. The rise of the Church – The rise of the Church and its spread is evidence of the acceptance of its teaching that Jesus rose from the dead.

 

These are just a very brief summary of the evidence to support the truth of the resurrection of Jesus. (For further investigation I encourage you to pick up a copy of Josh McDowells More than a Carpenter, or Evidence that Demands a Verdict; Lee Strobel’s The Case for Christ; Gary Habermas and Michael R. Licona’s The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus.)

Why Didn’t Thomas Believe?

John 20:24-31 (NKJV) – 24 Now Thomas, called the Twin, one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came.

First, Thomas was distracted. Thomas didn’t believe because he “was not with them when Jesus came.” For some reason Thomas wasn’t with his fellow disciples when Jesus appeared to them.it wasn’t likely cowardice. Thomas had previously expressed his willingness to die with Jesus (John 11:16). But something, we don’t know what, had distracted him from being where he needed to be in order to believe.

Some miss out on an opportunity to believe because they are busy with other things. If you are truly interested in the things of God, seek Him out. Get a Bible and start reading it. Go to church or a Bible study. Open yourself to the Lord. Seek Him.

Isaiah 55:6-7 – “Seek the LORD while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the LORD, and He will have mercy on him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon”

 

25 The other disciples therefore said to him, “We have seen the Lord.” So he said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.”

Second, Thomas wouldn’t listen. The other disciples announced to Thomas that they had seen Jesus. But Thomas wasn’t open to their eyewitness account. He demanded to see-for-himself this risen Lord Jesus.

Thomas, who had been willing to die with the Lord, responds almost cynically to his fellow disciple’s information. It’s as though he thought it to incredible, too good to be true that Jesus had been raised from the dead and was alive.

How about you, is the resurrection of Jesus and all it entails and encompasses something you think is too good to be true, too fantastic, too wonderful?

Maybe you’re like Thomas, you’re a seeing-is-believing kind of person. Thomas wouldn’t listen and so he came very close to missing out.

Why Did Thomas Come to Believe?

26 And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, “Peace to you!”

 First, Thomas came to believe by the grace of God. Eight days passed before Jesus appeared again to the disciples. This time Thomas was with them. Jesus didn’t punish or exclude Thomas for his absence or his insistence to see before he believed. That is grace. God is patient with us. He desires none to perish (2 Peter 3:9).

27 Then He said to Thomas, “Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.”

Second, Jesus personally offered Himself to be tested further. Jesus condescended to Thomas’ request and showed him what he said he needed to see. But Jesus passed many tests prior to this. He was tested by the devil in the wilderness (Matthew 4; Luke 4). Jessy was tested by the Pharisees, Sadducees, and scribes. Jesus was tested by Pontius Pilate and the brutal Roman soldiers. Jesus was tested by many and aced every test. What test do you have for Jesus? If you care to know, He will pass your test too. When He does, will you believe?

 Jesus knows. That Jesus knew what Thomas had said to the other disciples, even though He was not physically present with them, shows Jesus is aware of us and knows what we say and do even when we don’t think He’s here. Jesus knows about us and cares about us.

A time of opportunity and accounting. Jesus has gone out of His way to reach the lost (Mark 10:45). He continues to reach out to the lost, the unbeliever. But eventually all people will be held to account:

Acts 17:30–31 (NKJV) – 30 Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, 31 because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.”

Today is your day. The Bible only guarantees “today,” now, as the opportunity to believe and be saved:

2 Corinthians 6:2 (NKJV) – For He says: “In an acceptable time I have heard you, And in the day of salvation I have helped you.” Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.

 

28 And Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!”

 Third, Thomas weighed the evidence and believed. Thomas was open to being persuaded by the evidence. He was not closed minded to the possibility and eventually the reality of Jesus’ resurrection.

Jesus, Lord, and God. Notice, Jesus did not correct Thomas for proclaiming Him, “My Lord and my God.” Angels refuse worship (Revelation 19:10; 22:9). The Apostles refused worship (Acts 14:11-14). When Herod accepted accolades saying he was a god, and didn’t give glory to God, he was eaten by worms (Acts 12:21-23). That Jesus received Thomas’ proclamation of faith is proof that He is Lord and God.

How about you, what will you do with the evidence? Indecision is decision. Today, right now is your opportunity to believe in Jesus and be saved.

29 Jesus said to him, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

Lastly, Thomas believed because he saw, but Jesus says the greater blessing is for those who have not seen and believe. We have an opportunity for a greater blessing than Thomas. There is a mountain of evidence in support of Jesus and His resurrection. But we won’t fully understand it unless we believe. The greater blessing is to those who have not seen the risen Lord Jesus and believed.

Why Don’t People Believe?

God calls us to reason with Him. The Bible states that God loves all people (John 3:16). It states that the Holy Spirit convicts or reasons with people about their need to believe in Jesus (John 16:8-11). God invites people to enter into a conversation with Him:

Isaiah 1:18 (NKJV) – “Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the Lord, “Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool.

God is ready and waiting to dialogue with you about why you don’t believe.

Blindness of the devil. But why don’t people believe in God and Jesus? One reason is because the devil blinds them:

2 Corinthians 4:3–4 (NKJV) – But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.

Ephesians 2:1–2 (NKJV) – And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience,

1 John 5:19 (NKJV) – 19 We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one.

Only the grace of God and the light of His word can break through such blinding and deception.

Hard hearts. But there is another reason people don’t believe. People don’t believe because they harden their hearts toward God:

Matthew 13:14–15 (NKJV) – 14 And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says: ‘Hearing you will hear and shall not understand, And seeing you will see and not perceive; 15 For the hearts of this people have grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, And their eyes they have closed, Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, So that I should heal them.’

Hebrews 3:8 (NKJV) – Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, In the day of trial in the wilderness,

Jeremiah 17:9–10 (NKJV) – 9 “The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it? 10 I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, Even to give every man according to his ways, According to the fruit of his doings.

Our heart is so deceptive and inclined toward evil. But God searches and knowns our heart. And He has given us a tool to discern our own heart.

A heart assessor. The heart assessor given to us by God is His word:

Hebrews 4:12–13 (NKJV) – 12 For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. 13 And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give

What does this instrument of God tell us?

We can know God. The word of God tells us we can know God:

John 17:3 (NKJV) – And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.

But how can we know God? How can we receive His revelation and knowledge? 

Believing is Seeing

Thomas didn’t believe until he could see for himself. Jesus revealed Himself to Thomas in a way that caused him to respond, “My Lord and my God.” But Jesus then gives a not so subtle rebuke saying, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” The words of Jesus, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believed” stop the seeing is believing crowd dead in their tracks. Instead of “seeing is believing,” Jesus tells us “believe and you will see.” The key to understanding Jesus and the gospel, is believing in Jesus and His resurrection. Believing is seeing.

Faith is Believing in Order to See:

Hebrews 11:1 (NKJV) – 1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Something hoped for is not yet attained. Something not yet seen is not yet in hand. Faith is what gets us from the unattained and unseen to the attained and seen.

Without faith it is IMPOSSIBLE to please God:

Hebrews 11:6 (NKJV) – 6 But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

From Genesis to Revelation people know God and enter His righteousness by faith. Before you can come to God you must believe there is a God. It is by faith that we seek God and believe He is a rewarder of the one who believes in Him.

There are Things of God Beyond Our Understanding

Romans 11:33-36 (NKJV) – 33 Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!34 “For who has known the mind of the LORD?Or who has become His counselor?”35 “Or who has first given to HimAnd it shall be repaid to him?”36 For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen.

Even with faith, there are unsearchables and decisions God makes that are beyond our understanding. If we with our puny brains could explain God, God would not be God but only an imagination.

God’s Ways are Not Our Ways:

Isaiah 55:8-11 (NKJV) – 8 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts,Nor are your ways My ways,” says the LORD.9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth,So are My ways higher than your ways,And My thoughts than your thoughts.10 “For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven,And do not return there,But water the earth,And make it bring forth and bud,That it may give seed to the sowerAnd bread to the eater,11 So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth;It shall not return to Me void,But it shall accomplish what I please,And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.

If we could explain everything about God, then it would reduce Him to our limited understanding. But God is omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, HOLY. There is none like Him

Therefore, We Need an Eye-Opening Experience:

2 Kings 6:15-17 (NKJV) – And when the servant of the man of God arose early and went out, there was an army, surrounding the city with horses and chariots. And his servant said to him, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?” 16 So he answered, “Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” 17 And Elisha prayed, and said, “LORD, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.” Then the LORD opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw. And behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.

We need an eye-opening experience if we are to have any hope of knowing God in any way. God cannot be reduced to what we see. There is so much more to reality than what is merely seen.

Paul was Sent by Jesus to Open Eyes:

Acts 26:15-18 (NKJV) – 15 So I said, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ And He said, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. 16 But rise and stand on your feet; for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to make you a minister and a witness both of the things which you have seen and of the things which I will yet reveal to you. 17 I will deliver you from the Jewish people, as well as from the Gentiles, to whom I now send you, 18 to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.’

Paul was called by Jesus to “open their eyes.” We need our eyes opened as the first step toward finding forgiveness of sins through faith in Jesus. And we are called by Jesus to be ambassadors like Paul to be used by Him to open the eyes of the blind.

All the Treasures of Wisdom and Knowledge are in Christ:

Colossians 2:1-10 (NKJV) – 1 For I want you to know what a great conflict I have for you and those in Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh, 2 that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, and attaining to all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ, 3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.4 Now this I say lest anyone should deceive you with persuasive words. 5 For though I am absent in the flesh, yet I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good order and the steadfastness of your faith in Christ.6 As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, 7 rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.8 Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. 9 For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; 10 and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.

These are incredible words which point to Jesus as the Center of knowing and life. This passage also warns of settling for the less that the world offers. Don’t be deluded and deceived by the traditional concoctions and philosophical manufacturings of the world. Come to Christ!

But how can we see such treasures and appropriate them into our life?

We Need the Help of the Holy Spirit to See: 

1 Corinthians 2:9-10 and 14 (NKJV) – 9 But as it is written:”Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,Nor have entered into the heart of manThe things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”10 But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. . .. .14 But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

God has so much planned for those believe in and love God. God’s blessings are unimaginable on our own. We need THE HOLY SPIRIT!

How do we receive the Holy Spirit?

Through faith in Jesus; through believing the gospel of Jesus:

1 Corinthians 15:1–10 (NKJV) – Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time.For I am the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.

This is the gospel of Jesus Christ that is the key for the door to all the blessings and revelation of God. Believe what is contained in these short ten verses, and God will change your life and open your eyes. Believe this, and you will know God and have a hope of eternal life through faith in Jesus.

Titus 3:4-7 (NKJV) – But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, 5 not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

All of this is a product of God kindness and love for us. None of this is deserved by us. It is all a product of God’s mercy and grace. When the Holy Spirit comes into our life through faith in Jesus, we are washed from the filth we’ve accumulated in this world, we are renewed to new life, spiritual life, eternal life. This is what it means to be justified, and it is all a gift of God’s grace received through faith in Jesus.

You may have come to this teaching thinking like Thomas, unless I see what I want to see, I will not believe. Your thoughts and attitude don’t surprise Jesus. He welcomes your questions and invites you to receive a greater blessing. Jesus invites you to believe in Him so you can finally see Who He is and be saved from your sins. Now what will you do? Believe in Jesus and you will see a whole new reality and destiny; you will see how great Jesus is and live out the abundant life He promised (John 10:10). Believe and you will see!

 

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