Blog: If You Believe…
What evidence would convince you to exercise faith in the Bible and in the promises of Jesus?
While many are busily searching for empirical evidence to believe in the Christian faith, millions are enjoying the blessings of the faith without a frantic search for evidence. Have you ever thought about what is the spiritual advantage of accepting Jesus as Lord and Saviour on the basis of a well researched reason to believe, instead of a simple but wholehearted exercise of faith, even without all the evidence?
Thomas, the disciple of Jesus, had conflicts between faith and evidence. Thomas watched Jesus die. It was painful for Thomas to do so, but he watched him die. His hopes and dreams of a free and independent Jewish nation were pinned on his belief in Jesus as Messiah, but sadly, Thomas watched him die.
Thomas heard the angry crowd as they cried crucify him. He saw the tears roll down the face of Jesus’ dear mother. He heard the weeping women at the foot of the cross, Yes, Thomas watched Jesus die.
Thomas saw the hammer, he saw the nails, he saw the soldiers thrust a spear in Jesus’ side. As darkness enveloped the earth and cast a shadow over Mount Calvary, He heard Jesus cry in agony; Father, into your hand I commend my spirit; then as life gave way to death, Thomas watched Jesus die.
He watched the procession as the people meandered their way to Josephs’ new tomb where they placed the body of Jesus. As the tomb was sealed with that massive stone, he finally accepted – Jesus is dead, he said. The grand story of hope had come to an inglorious end. Thomas knew for sure that Jesus was dead because he watched him die.
Then one day while Thomas was trying to pick up the pieces of his broken life and shattered dreams, some of his fellow disciples approached him with a story that was too fanciful to believe.
Thomas! They cried, we have seen The Lord! He is alive just as the women reported. Thomas, Thomas, Jesus is alive, He is risen from the dead just as he said.
While they were ablaze with excitement, Thomas acted as though he were saying, do you really expect me to believe this story? Will you please excuse me, I have work to do!
Being a critical thinker, a skeptic one may say. Thomas was not easily convinced. He was a man who depended on material evidence.
The disciples pressed Thomas with their story but Thomas did not believe. He saw them drive those nails in Jesus’ hands, he watched him die.
In a last desperate attempt to convince doubting, pragmatic, critical thinking Thomas, the disciples reached for the most compelling evidence they had. They said, Jesus even showed us the nail prints in his hands and the spear print in his side. He is really alive. We are convinced.
Thomas was still not convinced. He told them, except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.
In his Response, Thomas asserted:
- He could not afford to believe the disciple’s story without seeing their evidence. He would not accept by faith a story that his friends had accepted on the basis of evidence. Thomas intimated that perceptual evidence is of greater value than simple faith in divine promises.
- Thomas went further. He indicated that even, after seeing their evidence , he wanted to test that evidence. It was as though Thomas was saying; not only do I want the see the nail prints and the spear prints, but I want to go a little further than you went, I want to feel those scars to make sure that they are real materially. I want to make sure that this perceived Jesus is not a phantom. I want to confirm that this thing that you are telling me is real. Apparently when Jesus asked the disciples to touch his nail and spear prints, they were too startled to do it. Thomas said to them, in essence, you dropped the ball when you had a chance to test the evidence, but I am gonna do it.
Thomas watched Jesus die and so he didn’t want to believe Jesus was alive if he were still dead. The implications of Jesus being alive, were, and still are very significant.
Thomas knew that if Jesus were really alive then it would change everything in his life. For Thomas, accepting that Jesus was alive was more than just a wonderful and sensational story to feel good about. He knew if that story was true, His life would take on new meaning and purpose. So it wasn’t a simple thing to accept that Jesus was alive.
While Thomas was carrying on in his state of spiritual confusion, Jesus entered the room where the disciples had gathered. Immediately, Jesus confronted Thomas’ doubts. He invited Thomas to touch His scars and verify his bodily resurrection.
Jesus’ response to Thomas’ spiritual confusion makes three crucial points to every searching soul today:
1. You and I are assured that we have Jesus’ attention even when we can’t make perfect sense of everything we hear about Him. He was paying attention to Thomas’ conversation and confusion of faith and doubt. He also pays attention to our conversations and confusions about Him.
2. Jesus is reaching out to fill that aching gap in every doubting heart that yearns to believe. It was as if Thomas was saying, I want to believe, help thou my unbelief by giving me a little evidence.
Although many persons are often quick to chide Thomas for his unbelief, it is important to remember that sometimes people reach out to God, like Thomas, for just a little evidence to help their weak and fledging faith along. Sometimes, like Gideon, individuals just want to see a bit of dew on that proverbial fleece and then they shout YES, we know the Lord is with us.
Oh how Jesus would love to commend our faith like the Centurion who said only speak the word… or that Gentile woman to whom He said “great is thy faith oh woman.” Yet, even in the weakness of our underdeveloped faith he reaches out to us like he did to Thomas, and he says, I am here to help your unbelief.
3) In the spiritual realm, faith is often more potent than material evidence.
Jesus stood before Thomas and pierced his heart with holy confrontation. Jesus said Thomas, you didn’t believe my words when I told you I will rise again.
It is as though Jesus confronted Thomas with the question; what do you want, material evidence? If it is material evidence you want, here it is. Reach out and touch my hands Thomas, and put your finger in my side, Thomas if that will convince you more than my solemn promise, then here you have it. Thomas, do it. Put you finger here and feel the scars for yourself, if that’s what you want to do, then do it.
Thomas could not take up the challenge, instead his heart broke at his lack of faith in the Saviour’s words, Thomas exclaimed, my Lord and My God!
Jesus turned to him and said, Thomas, is it just because you have seen me why you believe, is it because you have your evidence, is that still your basis for accepting? Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.
Can we accept the report of Jesus’ resurrection on the basis of other people’s testimonies. Can our faith surpass our quest for material or intellectual evidence? Can we simply believe the report that Jesus was risen from the grave? Jesus says, blessed are those who believe yet they have not seen.
The point Jesus made is that in the spiritual realm, those who have seen and tested evidence have no advantage over those who simply believe it.
We can spend many years searching for all the evidences to believe in the Bible or to believe in Jesus and His promise to give us everlasting life. While this quest for empirical evidence is vital to the faith of many believers, it provides no salvivic advantage over those who simply believe wholeheartedly in the Bible ,and in the personhood and promises of Jesus.
By choosing, right now, to believe in the Bible and the words of Jesus, you can begin to experience the same spiritual blessings as those who have spent a lifetime gathering, and testing the evidences that have led them to have faith in Jesus as personal Saviour and Lord.
Based on: John 20:24-30, Luke 24:36-39