One Big Beatitude

No doubt, Thomas knew a beatitude when he heard one. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus had declared rich blessings for those who pursue God’s ways amid the hardships and temptations of life: theirs is the presence of inner joy and the promise of Divine provision. And now having shown Himself to this hold-out disciple who would not otherwise believe in His resurrection, Jesus added one more beatitude: “blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”1 It was the very definition of faith, “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”2 It seems so counterintuitive, doesn’t it, that, though anyone would be awestruck in the bodily presence of the risen Savior, it is actually we who believe without seeing, who are blessed!

Why is “not seen” such a vital part of our journey; why does God prize faith so highly among us and infuse it with joy? When we trust only what we see, then belief remains on our terms, as if to subject God to our demands. Faith, though, submits us to what is true—God’s rule, a Kingdom beyond our control. It is how Mary, perplexed at the news she would birth the long-awaited Messiah, nevertheless replied, “I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.”3 Too, conditional belief doubts God’s character, as though He were like us, not always to be trusted. But faith rests in God’s goodness, wisdom, power and love, as did Sarah, who “by faith … received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised.”4 Then also, if “God is spirit,”5 how can we grasp Him with natural senses that live only to see the grave? In faith, however, it is the soul that looks upon the eternal God through the clarity of the gospel sent “to open [our] eyes, so that [we] may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that [we] may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in [Jesus].”6

Faith—itself “the gift of God”7—is, in Peter’s words, “more precious than gold.”8 We can see why! Faith moves us from our kingdom to God’s Kingdom, from our power to His power, and we look upon His glory, even as we share in it. Peter continues, “Though you have not seen [Jesus], you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”9 Blessed are we, indeed.

Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all. (1 Chronicles 29:11)

1 John 20:29 ESV
2 Hebrews 11:1 ESV
3 Luke 1:38 NIV
4 Hebrews 11:11 ESV
5 John 4:24 ESV
6 Acts 26:18 ESV
7 Ephesians 2:8 ESV
8 1 Peter 1:7 ESV
9 1 Peter 1:8, 9 ESV

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