March 14, 2015

Seeing is believing . . .

Numbers 15:1–41
John 20:1–31
Psalm 16:1–11

When someone says, “I won’t believe it unless I can see it,” they are putting an additional handicap on blind people. If faith depends on sight, that would mean a blind person could not believe anything!

I believe in many things that I cannot see. A typical example is wind, or electricity, but what about love? Or lies? Or that the woman sitting in front of me is wearing too much perfume? Or that the neighbor’s dog let me know that someone just rang their doorbell? There are ways of knowing that do not involve sight.

However, sight is a big part of knowing, even of knowing God. While He is Spirit and “no man can see Him and live,” He does reveal Himself. Obviously the “seeing” is a matter of the heart, something like “I get it” rather than involving eyeballs, yet look at the visuals or references to seeing in the these Bible verses . . .

The Lord said to Moses, “Speak to the people of Israel, and tell them to make tassels on the corners of their garments throughout their generations, and to put a cord of blue on the tassel of each corner. And it shall be a tassel for you to look at and remember all the commandments of the Lord, to do them, not to follow after your own heart and your own eyes, which you are inclined to whore after. So you shall remember and do all my commandments, and be holy to your God. I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt to be your God: I am the Lord your God.” (Numbers 15:37–41)

God doesn’t want me to make graven images, but it is okay to have visual reminders of Him and His commandments. I’ve verses on my walls, and a scarlet cord hanging in a window to remind me of His redeeming power.

When the women came and told the disciples that the tomb of Jesus was empty, Peter and John “were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. And stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen cloths lying there, and the face cloth, which had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen cloths but folded up in a place by itself.” (John 20:4–7)

“But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb. And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. They said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping?’ She said to them, ‘They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.’” (John 20:11–13)

Would Mary, or Peter and John believe that Jesus had risen from the dead without seeing the empty tomb and later on His resurrected body? Would verbal reports have been enough? They saw Him die; I believe they needed to see Him alive too.

As for now, faith enables me to ‘see’ the living Christ, but for those who were first to witness His resurrection, physically seeing Him was vital. They would be telling the world and visible evidence would be important.

Thomas wasn’t there with the others during that first ‘into the room with the locked door’ appearance of Jesus. This disciple was the original author of “Unless I see, I will not believe.” Jesus knew Thomas well. He didn’t make him take everyone else’s word for it, but appeared to Thomas, let him touch Him, and then Thomas believed. Afterward, Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:29)

I’m one of those who didn’t physically see Jesus, yet have believed. Part of my evidence is the written Word of God. John explained why he wrote his part of that Word: “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” (John 20:30–31)

Because of what these verses say, and because of the disciples’ experience and my own experience, I know that seeing and faith do not go hand in hand. It is possible to believe because of seeing, and possible to believe without seeing. Either way, saying “I get it” before God will always result in a blessing.

Yet reminders are good, both visual and in the imagination. The psalmist said, “I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.” (Psalm 16:8) From what I see in the Word of God, even if I lost my sight, I could still put Him before me, know He is with me, and be able to stand firm in my faith.

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