Updated: Jan 29
I am sure you have heard the proverb, “Seeing is believing.”
It means, “You need to see something before you can accept that it really exists or occurs.”
In one regard, we are given sight as a way of leading us to find truths and answers. We read Scripture with our eyes and Scripture is how we do find answers and truths in that which is written.
Still, our eyes often play tricks on us. Con artists at carnivals have made lots of money from the bets of suckers who thought they were able to follow which cup hid the ball.
From that failure of eyesight comes the saying, “The hand is quicker than the eye.”
Still, sometimes the eyes imagine things that are not exactly as reality proves those things to be. For instance, just recently a report came out that the Elasmotherium sibiricum lived in a refuge as little as 29,000 years ago.
The Elasmotherium sibiricum is a Siberian unicorn. We imagine a unicorn to look like this:
When it really looked more like this:
The lessons of this week point to how we see Jesus Christ; and like our views of unicorns, there is blindness that we Christians must deal with, based on both the imaginary and the need for visual proof.
Obviously, when we read in John’s Gospel, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.” The connection is made between and seeing and believing.
That famous question and quote from Jesus was made to the disciple “Thomas (who was called the Twin).”
This Gospel remembrance is how the moniker “Doubting Thomas” came into being. While Thomas is identified as “one of the twelve,” meaning he was a lead disciple of Jesus (the same as Judas was “one of the twelve”), Thomas is identified as a “Twin,” meaning physically he had a twin sibling, but also meaning symbolically how Thomas had two sides of himself – the faithful follower and the doubtful believer.
Since we are representative of all of the disciples – individually and collectively – as the ones who claim to be Christian today, we also share this duality of Thomas.
Thus, we need to see ourselves as Thomas, and not as one of the other trembling followers of Jesus, the man who had just been crucified.
We are doubters when we say, “I need real proof of Jesus,” before I submit fully to belief in Jesus as having been resurrected, just like one needs to see skeletal remains of a unicorn … remains that I can touch, take samples from, and put under an electron microscope and do carbon dating on.
Those whose beliefs comes from having actually put their finger on the nail holes in the hands of Jesus and stuck their whole hand into the spear wound on Jesus’s side are told, “Do not doubt but believe.”
There are many who have had personal experiences with the resurrected Jesus. Paul was one. Paul (as Saul) was likewise a doubter, but his life was changed from such a real encounter.
Still, Jesus said, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.”
We should hear the word “Blessed” and interpret that as having the defined meaning “Consecrated” or “Made Holy.”
When you see that one word defined in its highest sense … which coming from the voice of the resurrected Lord would qualify it for the highest definition – Jesus said (in paraphrase), “Those who are filled with the Holy Spirit have come to believe in Christ Jesus because they were touched by him Spiritually.”
This means Jesus said more than (again I paraphrase), “If you say you believe in me without having ever seen me physically, then God will bless you for being a disciple of Jesus.” The use of “blessed” here is on a lower level of meaning, as the definition, “Given happiness, pleasure, and contentment.”
This means we are not made holy or righteous by faith alone. Doubting Thomas and the other hiding-in-fear-disciples had only taken one step in the right direction because they had seen Jesus do some stuff … none of which they fully understood.
They would understand once they received the Spirit and Peace was within them.
In the reading from the Acts of the Apostles, we see how the temple police had rounded them up and brought them before the council and the high priest.
They had become replications of Jesus. The problem the ranking officials thought they had eliminated had been multiplied by eleven.
When they trembled and hid behind locked doors, they had no Peace with them. The disciples of Jesus had not yet been Blessed and made holy by receiving the Spirit. Prior to having their hearts opened by the touch of the resurrected Lord, they had no understanding that would lead any of them to say, “We must obey God rather than any human authority.”
When they then added, “We are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him,” the Apostles had eyes that no longer only worked on the physical level. Their being allowed to see spiritually gave them the strength to face any human authority, because their sight was from the highest authority.
That is how David sang, “The Lord is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation.” No one other than God provides both strength and redemption for eternity.
This is where John’s writing in The Revelation commands us to “Look!” This command speaks to us on a human level and on a spiritual level. We are told to see and ordinary people (disciples) hear that order and begin searching their surroundings. Those who have been Blessed by the Holy Spirit search for God within.
That means to next be told, “He is coming with the clouds,” makes one become a watcher of the skies, or one who knows the presence of Christ within is a misty presence that cannot be seen with the physical eyes. We must “Look!” through the Mind of Christ to see the Holy Spirit’s presence.
This duality of disciple and Apostle, of believer in a God who is external and one whose faith is in God being inside one’s heart, is how everything that is written in the Holy Bible has surface meaning and deeper meaning. We need a higher mind helping us see the higher meaning that is intended to be found.
We see this in John writing “to the seven churches that are in Asia.” Some think John wrote seven letters and dispatched those epistles to seven different places in first century Turkey.
Others see only one letter – The Revelation of John – which is the one epistle that was begrudgingly placed as the last book of the Holy Bible by the early Church council, so all Christianity could become one with those seven churches and see how those seven churches refer only to the one Church of Christ [not a denomination, but a body of saints].
The number seven has higher, deeper meaning, more than simply representing a count of seven churches. The number seven represents perfection, simply because God rested on the seventh day of his Creation.
Another way of saying God rested on the Sabbath is to say God brought Peace to the world then. The Sabbath was Blessed and made Holy. That was because on the Sabbath day God made his first priest, who would be seeded upon the earth – Adam in the Garden of Eden.
Despite all the work the physical plane demands, time must be set aside so one can be at Peace with the Lord and reflect on his inner presence, so one is reminded of the union between the material and the spiritual.
That duality is how the number seven has both positive associations, while also having negative associations. Overall the number represent perfection; but perfection is impossible by Man alone. Perfection can only come through God.
Thus, when John wrote his letters to the seven churches, he pointed out the positive and the negative that each church was known to have created … so that all were known by God to be short of perfection … all were known to be short of showing they had fully received God’s Holy Spirit within them.
During this Easter period, we need to see how important it is that we spend considerable time learning our faith, through knowing the tenets of our religion and all the Scriptures. Just as John wrote in his Gospel, “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.” we must progress beyond being a follower of Jesus, to being a leader as Jesus. We need to understand how it is the Holy Bible is indeed Holy.
The Easter season is the equivalent of the time Moses led the Israelites to Mount Horeb, where they waited forty days for Moses to come down with the Covenant. Following the week after the Passover and the days taken to reach the mount, Moses went up the mountain. He said he would return, but the Israelites feared he had died from seeing God. Their fear caused them to revert to pagan worship.
The Easter season is when we become like Moses (beyond a priest, and beyond being simply a disciple) and go up the mountain that Jesus Christ represents, so we talk with God through him. After forty days of learning – seeing the many signs that can’t all be written down – we are then prepared to receive the Holy Spirit.
Our preparation requires work. Six days we work, and then we spend the Sabbath in Peace with the Lord. That means the Easter season is seven weeks of work (6 days a week) and rest (one day a week). That is forty-nine days total.
Following that training, we will reach the Day of Pentecost – the Fiftieth Day. Then, it will be time to pay attention “to him who loves us and freed us from our sins by his blood, and made us to be a kingdom, priests serving his God and Father.” We have been called to be high priests to the One God, through Jesus Christ.
That requires more than profession of belief. It requires the acts that make one become an Apostle.
We need to seek inner Peace … the Peace of the Lord. We need to receive the Holy Spirit and become truly Blessed.
We need to be filled with an understanding that John saying, “Look! He is coming with the clouds,” means Jesus has already come as promised, many times before; and he is still coming within those who open their hearts to God.
The Revelation of John is a letter to us to seek the perfection God offers through the Holy Spirit. Without that power within us, guiding our actions of faith, giving us the strength to display that perfection – as sinners who have forever ceased sinning – then when we read “Jesus is coming with a cloud,” we can only see through eyes that can only focus on the negative of our imperfection.
That side of our dual nature trembles when we read, “every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and the tribes of the earth will wail.” We must rise about that imperfection and seek the perfection of God.
If you watch the news today, it is easy to see how much that wailing has begun. This is because there is now a shortage of high priests who are deeply devoted to serving God, through Christ.
To have “a life in his name,” we must “receive the Spirit” and have “Peace be with us” as a reborn Jesus, led by God in one’s heart. Then, we can stand before any authority the world has to offer and tell them, “The God of our ancestors raised up Jesus, whom you had killed.”
We can put the fear of God in them by saying, “We are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him.”
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” Blessed is he (or she) who comes as a reborn Jesus!
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