The old saying “seeing is believing” is turned around by the risen Lord in his resurrection appearance to Thomas and the other disciples to “believing is seeing.”

Faith comes first, then the vision of faith.

Some years ago there was a commercial with people along a roadside all claiming to be doubting Thomases.

A car zooms into view, rushes past them, and they all start exclaiming “we believe.”

Toyota did not acknowledge the source for that ad, which comes from John 20:25... “The other disciples told him we have seen the Lord, but Thomas said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.”

When Thomas does come face to face with Jesus after the resurrection, it’s interesting to note that John does not tell us if Thomas indeed reached out to physically touch the Lord.

Christ’s word of invitation is enough: “...put your finger here and see my hands, reach out your hand and put it in my side, do not doubt but believe.”

There’s spiritual breakthrough here as Thomas utters “My Lord and my God.”

No one truly knows Jesus in his resurrected body until he speaks to them. It’s not sight or touch, but hearing his word which is the vital link for all of us who were not there.

Jesus accepts Thomas’ exclamation of faith, adding “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.” This is a word of blessing that Jesus speaks to you today.

Thomas serves a constructive purpose for us of every age, his unwillingness to say too quickly the truth of the resurrection.

He didn’t want intellectual proof.

What Thomas does is set faith apart from a hunch or an occasional religious thought.

We are invited to grasp the miracle that faith is — it is God given.

It’s the relationship of the Holy Spirit and the inner life of all who hear the Gospel and respond with a trusting heart.

Faith is trust that Christ’s cross and resurrection are God’s deed for us now. Faith welcomes our Lord without claiming to know everything about him.

It’s a life-long process of growing and maturing and is never complete here on earth.

To say along with Thomas, “My Lord and my God” and keep on saying it year after year is the miracle of trust.

Through days of abundance and even darker times of hardship and sorrow, the basic line of trusting God through Jesus Christ is solid and does not break.

Then why so much doubt and fear if Christ rose from the dead to provide new life for all?

With so much turmoil and conflict in the world, people are worn down and out instead of being built up with peace and coherence in their lives.

Whenever the Living God is left out, the power of God’s love and forgiveness is ignored or forgotten.

Another factor is an intellectual problem with very human questions such as “Can God really be in control of this world with all the death, destruction and decay all around?”

Our logical thoughts often stand in the way of faith, but God is not the opponent of an honestly seeking mind.

Lifestyle seems to be the strongest barrier to faith, a way of life that drifts away from the Gospel proclaimed, the sacraments of the church, the community of believers gathered to hear the good news.

For some. it begins with weeks or months or years passing by without any encounter with the message of the Bible.

Life gets filled with all sorts of things with no time or interest in the conviction that God is at work in this world and calls us ordinary people to work with Him in this present time and place, so faith gets pushed to the side.

As life unfolds, just beneath the surface is a need and hunger.

Church Father St. Augustine wrote: “We are made by God and there is no peace until our restless hearts rest in Him.”

As we are all children of God, we have a witness to give, a word to speak, a life to show our faith that Jesus’ resurrection is true.

Jesus has already blessed you with His word: “Blessed are those who have not seen, and yet believe.”

Amen.

The Rev. RAY ZISCHANG is pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church in Killeen.

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