Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.”
Jesus replied, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and yet you still don’t know who I am? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father! So why are you asking me to show him to you? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words I speak are not my own, but my Father who lives in me does his work through me. Just believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me. Or at least believe because of the work you have seen me do.”
People often say, “I’ll believe it when I see it.” Sometimes, though, we have to believe in order to see. That’s how faith works, right? As we believe in God, our hearts become tuned to his voice, and we begin to see his mighty hand at work around us. Jesus once told Thomas, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29). How does it work in your heart? Does your faith enable you to recognize God’s word and work, or does witnessing God’s movement build up your faith? I imagine both are true in the hearts of most believers.
Jesus asked his disciples to believe many hard things. He told them that He is God’s Son even though He looked like any other man. He told them He would die and rise again, even though that sounds impossible. He told them they could see God by looking at him, even though God is invisible. Then, as Philip and the others struggled to accept what He was saying, Jesus flipped the paradigm over and asked them to believe on the basis of what they had seen him do. Walking on the water. Healing the sick. Casting out demons. Confronting religious authorities with undeniable wisdom. Remember all you have seen and heard, Jesus told them, and let these mighty acts of power and compassion inspire your faith. Of course, Jesus had one more amazing work left to accomplish that would finally and forever convince his followers that He is both Savior and Lord. It was only after Jesus’ resurrection that the disciples fully embraced all that He had told them.
We walk on both sides of this line also. Our faith can be genuine and deeply felt even if we haven’t witnessed mighty miracles performed in Jesus’ name. Then again, each time we see God answer a prayer or feel the Spirit move in our hearts or witness a friend’s life being changed by God’s grace, our faith grows. What we see God do gives us assurance that what we believe is real, and yet the more deeply we believe, the more we recognize God’s work. Seeing is believing, and believing helps us see. When your faith feels weak, ask God for confirmation of his presence and power. Then, as you witness God’s hand moving in your life, feed on that inspiration so your faith will deepen. Jesus is at work among us, because He loves us and wants us to believe.
Gracious Lord, You do good and mighty things in this world. Teach me to see Your hand at work and to hear Your voice. Strength my faith, and use me to encourage others to believe in the powerful name of Jesus. Amen.
Pastor Mike Mirakian