“Unless I (Thomas) see...I will not believe it.” Then Jesus told him (Thomas), “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:25, 29).
Have you ever felt a bit sorry for Thomas? After all, he's gotten a bad rap all these years as the guy who didn't have the faith to believe Jesus was alive when the others insisted they had seen Him.
I think those bad-rappers don't consider how much they/we have in common with Thomas. What he was being asked to believe is what we're being asked to believe. His response is often our response.
Another thing the bad-rappers aren't factoring in is that the other disciples had seen Jesus. All Thomas wanted was what they said they already had: I-saw-Jesus-with-my-own-eyes proof.
The other person who gets a bad rap in this account is Jesus. Some interpret His statement to Thomas—“Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” –as a put-down. A put-down not only to Thomas but also to anyone who wishes they could see Jesus.
Looking closer, however, we see something quite unlike a put-down. Jesus is saying there is advantage to believing without seeing. He says those who believe without seeing are blessed.
That Greek word is makarioi, meaning blessed, happy.
The disciples—including Thomas—needed to see Jesus because they were the ones to start the good-news ball rolling. From then on, however, Jesus is saying believing without seeing is a blessing. That in fact, it is happiness.
Jesus had previously used makarioi when He pronounced blessed: the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, and those persecuted because of righteousness. Now He was adding to the list of the blessed “those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
Just as some of those previous beatitudes don't on-the-surface seem blessed or happy states of being, neither does believing without seeing. Yet Jesus knows where true happiness—what we always say we want—comes from. Believing opens us to experiencing Jesus, to experiencing happiness, in ways that seeing can't bring about.
With believing comes awareness that Jesus—His Spirit, mind, and character—indwells us. Nobody knows us as completely and how to guide us as faithfully as He. He is the alert-est of listeners, the best of friends, the most faithful of brothers. Since He doesn't have to leave us to go to another, both we and the other are blessed. He is love, joy and peace, yet ever present in our dark times.
In what ways has believing Jesus already been a blessing for you today?
How can this truth help us assist others to believe without seeing?