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


A Moment and a Lifetime

“Do not be unbelieving, but believing.”1 Jesus, to Thomas.

During my teenage years, many of my friends found a deeply satisfying faith in Jesus Christ. Personally, I believed God existed, and mentally assented to Christian teaching, but whatever rest my friends had found in Christ, I had not. How deeply I longed for the inner peace and joy that emanated from their soul! So, I kept coming back. To Bible studies, I kept coming back. To church, I kept coming back. To seeking God through prayer, I kept coming back. It would be ten long years before I trusted in Jesus’ love and forgiveness, and in retrospect, it became clear it was Jesus drawing me all along from unbelief to belief. “I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself,”1 He had promised, and I found His promise to be true.

It had been eight days since Thomas rejected his friends’ testimony of Jesus’ resurrection; “Unless I see … I will not believe,”2 he had vowed. Yet when Jesus appeared to them a second time, Thomas was with them; though unbelieving, he had kept coming back. Perhaps he deeply longed for the inner peace and joy emanating from his reborn friends, but whatever the means, it was Jesus faithfully drawing Thomas to Himself. “Reach here with your finger, and see My hands,” He told his unbelieving disciple, “reach here your hand and put it into My side.”3

Whether ten years, eight days or a lifetime, the vital journey from unbelief to belief in Jesus is the same immeasurable distance, for it is the path from our ways to God’s way, from false notions and deceptions to Him who is true, and from eternal separation from God to eternal life in Him. Then belief is not a one-time event, but rather the essence of life in Christ: “Do not be unbelieving, but believing,”4 Jesus continued. “My Lord and my God!”5 answered Thomas. He was and remains a changed man—unbelief no longer defines him, nor does our sin define us when we, like Thomas, believe.

My Lord and my God, draw us to yourself. Call us always from unbelief to belief, for you are who you say you are: the way, the truth and the life. Grace us to rest in you. Amen.

1 John 12: 32
2 John 20:25 NASB
3, 4 John 20:27 NASB
5 John 20:28 NASB


Two Words

“Don’t be afraid; just believe.”1—Jesus , to Jairus

Steve was sharing with his friend, Ray, some personal life-struggles, when Ray surprised him with a question, “Have you ever really asked Jesus into your life?” A bit off-guard, Steve replied that he’d been a church-goer all his life, but Ray persisted, “But have you ever really committed to Him?” Ray then shared with Steve a prayer to receive Jesus as his Savior, which Steve took with him to consider further on his own. A couple of weeks later, Ray asked Steve if he’d prayed this prayer. “Yes,” he replied, “but I don’t feel any different.” Then Ray said two words that would change everything for Steve: “Just believe.”

As a disciple of Jesus, Thomas had seen much in the past three years: miracle after miracle, healing after healing, and the dead raised to life. He had heard much along the way: parable after parable, Scriptures explained, and the future foretold. Thomas himself had even participated in miracles and teaching, for he had been among those sent out in twos, going “from village to village, preaching the gospel and healing people everywhere.”2 But when his friends enthusiastically proclaimed their eyewitness report of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead—“We have seen the Lord!”—Thomas said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe,”3 his adamance perhaps as telling as his refusal.

As we approach the precipice of belief, new obstacles to faith emerge and old ones loom larger. Broken promises in our past make it difficult to openly trust today. Other belief systems confuse us as to which one is true, or dull us into the indefensible notion that all of them are. Losing control is always a fear, and relinquishing to One we cannot see is even more so. And sometimes, we simply doubt we can be forgiven. We do well to carefully consider our way, of course, for actions have eternal consequences, as does inaction, yet there will always be in this life one more question, one more objection, or one more fear. So we seek God in prayer and His word, and we pursue understanding, but for each of us, full and forever life in Christ ultimately comes down to two words: “Just believe.” They change everything.

Father, belief can be difficult for me as, in fear and pride, I struggle with relinquishing control and resting in you. Send your Spirit to give me the grace and strength to trust in your love and walk in your ways. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

1 Mark 5:36
2 Luke 9:6
3 John 20:25