From sight to faith

“To have faith is to be sure of the things we hope for, to be certain of the things we cannot see.” – Hebrews 11:1

In those few short years of public ministry, Jesus lived alongside the believers, always looking for those that were growing in faith, to follow Him as His students. They had the rare privilege of physically sitting at His feet and having real face-to-face conversations with Him. However, in the divine unfolding plan the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ would set the stage for a monumental shift in relationship from the early first-century believers living alongside Jesus, to following Him by faith alone.

How can we know the way?

During those early interactions with Jesus in plain view of His followers, this fledgling class of students still had their insecurities and doubts! This is all recorded in Biblical history. One encounter is described between Jesus and a somewhat insecure young student in the inner circle named Thomas. Near the end of Jesus’ public ministry and not long before His crucifixion, the twelve closest followers including Thomas had been with Jesus for a long time. Jesus was laying out what was going to happen next. Realizing that Jesus would actually be physically leaving them soon, they were a little uncertain of the future and finding their way without Him. After all, they thought, how could they go on without their teacher leading the way? So Thomas and others wanted details. Here’s a brief glimpse into the conversation:

Thomas: “Lord…how can we know the way?”
Jesus responded with the most profound declaration ever stated:
“I am the way and the truth and the life.” (taken from John 14:5-6)

Did you catch the significance of the response from Jesus to Thomas’ question? Let’s take note first of what he didn’t say.

He didn’t say “Well, Thomas, you should know the way! You’ve been my disciple for a long time now. It’s time for you to get busy and handle everything on your own.”

Jesus, aware of what would soon take place, was preparing His beloved students for His physical absence. It would be critical that they not rely on seeing Him all the time, but instead internalize Him and His teaching. So in His response to Thomas, He steered the young disciple and the others away from their doubts, fears and insecurities. He knew that temporal sight would not endure the test of time and scrutiny, especially under impending ridicule and persecution. Thomas and the others needed to develop a personal, powerful, enduring faith to know that the “way” was Jesus Himself.

It was about Jesus, and who He was. Jesus pointed Thomas and His entire inner circle back to Himself, the source of their faith!

At that moment with Jesus, His inner circle had no idea that what was unfolding would reverberate until the end of time. It would be a new kind of relationship like the world had never known. In that discourse, Jesus alluded to His Spirit (aka Holy Spirit) that would be with them after He left. This was the beginning of the single most transformative shift in all of history related to humanity’s relationship with God-in-flesh, Jesus Christ — from sight, to faith. Christ within humanity. Prophets of old, and even the angels of heaven did not even know this full mystery.

“‘Things which angels desire to look into’ – more literally, ‘things into which the angels have a burning desire to look carefully.’ The angels are watching God’s unfolding plan for His saints with passionate curiosity. And as Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 4:9, ‘we have been made a spectacle to the world, both to angels and to men.’ The words translated ‘made a spectacle’ speaks of our unfolding redemption being displayed before angels as though it were a great theatrical presentation.” – teachingtheword.org

This changes everything

There’s a very important passage of scripture that you need to grasp right here. A few years after the ascension of Jesus (when He ascended to heaven 40 days after his bodily resurrection), the Apostle Paul wrote a letter to the believers in Rome. He explained this miraculous transition from the physical presence of Jesus with His followers to His spiritual presence within them that would supernaturally empower them to live the resurrection life, the Hello Life! Here’s what Paul wrote:

But you are not doing what your sinful old selves want you to do. You are doing what the Holy Spirit tells you to do, if you have God’s Spirit living in you. No one belongs to Christ if he does not have Christ’s Spirit in him. If Christ is in you, your spirit lives because you are right with God, and yet your body is dead because of sin. The Holy Spirit raised Jesus from the dead. If the same Holy Spirit lives in you, He will give life to your bodies in the same way. – Romans 8:9-11 (The Voice translation)

No longer would the early believers be able to rely on the physical presence of Jesus. But the promised Holy Spirit, the Spirit of the risen Christ, would change everything. The presence and power of the resurrected Christ would be within every believer, empowering those that chose to follow. Jesus would be the way and truth and life, going forward.

Key takeaways:
1. The crucifixion, resurrection and ascension of Jesus brought His students into a new, transformative kind of relationship with Him that would change the world.
2. This transition to following by supernatural faith over temporal sight is monumental to Christianity because it empowers all believers by the Holy Spirit to follow Christ in discipleship, to be released from the grave of self will, into freedom and the newness of resurrection life
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Header photo by Ahmed Hasan

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