“Blessed are those who have not seen and (yet) have believed.”
The veracity and facticity of Jesus’ resurrection offers some terms of believing based on different experiences and evidence. On the night of Easter Sunday, Jesus appeared to the disciples, except Thomas, and stood among them in the Upper Room. He said to the ten, “Peace be to you,” and later showed them his nail-scarred hands and the place where the spear had pierced his side. Among the post-resurrection scenes, John points us to the importance and the speciality of the absence of Thomas in relations to terms and relationship between seeing and believing. In the beginning, Thomas as a disciple under Jesus during his earthly ministry was not known for the popular nickname of “Doubting Thomas.” The reflection is that, Thomas who was not with the disciples when Jesus came to the Upper Room points us to the positive side of doubt as a means to correct error, unbelief, and to promote our faith in Jesus Christ. For his absence at the Upper Room, Thomas missed the presence of the Lord. He missed the power of the Lord, He missed the peace of the Lord. He missed the praises of the Lord. He missed the promotions of the Lord. He missed the provisions of the Lord (Jn 20:19-23).
On Thomas’ return, the other disciples told him all about Jesus’ appearing. They said to him, “We have seen the Lord!” In this context and for Thomas, doubt is demanded. He said, “Unless I see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” (John 20:25). I think, it could have been from this scene that Thomas was nicknamed, the “Doubting Thomas.” Thomas’ statement, “I will not believe” invites us to reflect on the terms of believing. The clarification here is that Thomas did not doubted the resurrection or the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Thomas’ doubt is demanded in order to confirm the testimony of the other disciples. Thomas’ doubt which is demanded in comparison to the doubt of the blind Pharisees ‘who refused to see the Light that God put in front of their face’ is damnable.
From a different perspective, Thomas’ terms of believing is in contrast to Jesus’ terms of believing. The other disciples used a basic verb of seeing as an expression of their personal experience and encounter with Jesus Christ and of their faith in him. Thomas’ response to the experience, information, witness, and encounter of the other disciples points to his three terms of believing. Thomas did not dismissed the other disciples experience, he was demanding a ‘clear and absolute: personal verification by sight, direct access by eye contact and nothing less,’ hence, in an emphatic way with the use of the verb of sight, he demanded, “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 it” (Jn 20:25).
Thomas’ first term of believing points to a verb that is indicative of a visual experience. Thomas’ way and quest through ‘his own individual test, his personal direct seeing of the visible marks of the crucifixion and even the touching of these marks, the absolute condition and the non-negotiable term for believing’ amounts to approaching things of the Spirit by physical lens. Thomas’ first terms of believing is through seeing the risen Christ as a basic way: “Unless I see…” Thomas’ terms of believing is about direct physical evidence and verification of data in order to believe that Jesus was truly risen. For Thomas, believing is unacceptable without seeing.
The second term of believing for Thomas must be through his personal experience. He said, “Unless I … put my finger where the nails were,” Just as Thomas was not ready to believe sight unseen, he was also not not ready to believe body untouched. For Thomas, faith and believe in Christ is subject to seeing, touching and believing. These terms of believe may make sense in our natural world, a reasonable behaviour in a natural world, but the truth is that, it does not work in the things of the Spirit. The reflection is what works professionally does not automatically works prophetically. In a natural world, we have to touch before believing because human being are not trustworthy. We are in a culture of taste before trading.
Thomas’ terms of believing are opposite to Jesus’ way and terms of believing. When God speaks or makes promises, we don’t bring God to the level of man hence, Jesus’ way and first term of believing is faith. You must believe first in his death, resurrection, salvation, healing power, His Second Coming among others. Jesus’ response to Thomas is the good news we need to hear today. Jesus said to Thomas, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” Beloved, listen to this, ‘None of us will ever see the physical Person of Jesus in this life. What we must do is believe by faith what the Bible says about Jesus. If we can get passed our doubts and believe Him, we will be saved by Him!’ The beatitude offers and introduces great importance of believing in the risen Jesus without having seen him. Not seeing yet believing involves more willingness, more decisiveness, more readiness for exposure to all kinds of probable dangers.’
Jesus’ first term of believing leads to the second term of believing. Our believe gives sight that enable us to see and get healing. The woman with the issue of blood first believing before seeing. Lazarus sister first believe before seeing Lazarus raised from the dead. The man at the beautiful gate first believe before seeing and walking. The reflection is that, we all see in the problem of our life. You either see fear or faith. God is calling you and I, the church, and our nations to move from ‘the state of unbelieving to the state of believing, not through seeing but through relying on the apostolic eyewitness.’ The state of believing, not through seeing ‘seems to imply an increased amount of faith,’ while seeing before believing ‘produces a degree of compulsion, … somehow diminishes the risk and makes believing easier’ (Heb 11).