Seeing is Believing

John 20:19-31

In preparing for this sermon I thought I'd go on-line with my computer and see if I might get some humorous story that connected with what I wanted to present regarding my sermon, "Seeing is Believing." So I went to the Google site and typed in, "Seeing is believing jokes."

The follow are the first 3 (out of 200,000 results) that came up. I checked those 3 and just gave up. Here are the 3. One result took me to an "Amway" site that described how to get results by being an "Amway" distributor. I guess it was there to say that 'seeing Amway products is believing.' The second result was the following headline (I didn't go any further than the headline and explanation, honest!): "Playboy TV: Sexy Urban Legends: Seeing is Believing.' This collection of stories from Playboy's popular 'Sexy Urban Legends' DVD series, features scintillating tales of foxy folklore certain to have you doing a little debunking of your own." I don't even understand that!

The final one took me to a site that had numerous jokes-hundreds actually-but only ONE listed under "seeing is believing." The following is that joke. "A man left from work on Friday afternoon. Instead of going home like he usually does, he stayed out the entire weekend hunting with the boys and spending his entire paycheck. When he finally came home, he was confronted by his angry wife and was yelled at for over and hour because of his actions. Finally, his wife stopped nagging and simply asked, "How would you like it if you didn't see me for two or three days?' To this, he replied, 'That would be fine with me'. Monday went by and he didn't see his wife. Tuesday and Wednesday came and went with the same results. Finally on Thursday, the swelling went down just enough to where he could see her a little out of the corner of his left eye."

I could hardly believe that that's what I got as a start from a search for jokes relating to "seeing is believing." In this case, seeing WAS really believing! There they were right in front of me! There are lots of things that folks tell me that I don't believe. Ninety-nine percent of it I could care less about looking it up to know if it's true or not. And if it's something that's a photo, and very unusual, almost incredible, I don't believe it if I see it knowing how pictures can be doctored or digitally created or whatever. Certainly, seeing is not always believing. Plus, there are many things that are known as 'optical illusions' which most definitely one should not believe what one is seeing.

Most folks, in response to whether they believe something or not, say, "I'll believe it when I see it." But the matter in today's Gospel lesson is about spiritual believing and seeing. Spiritually, it works the other way around. That is, one would say, "I'll see it when I believe it."

That is so true. Many people say they have never seen a miracle. I say to them that I don't think they really believe in miracles. Miracles happen to us every day. Every day. It's only when we're open to seeing them through BELIEVING in them, that we see them.

Many folks pray for someone to overcome some challenge that the person is facing. When it happens they are astounded and happy and they tell someone else about the miracle they have witnessed. But what is the response from the person they're telling? Most of the time the person tries to dismiss it as coincidence or tries to explain it away by logic or some other system of thought. They don't immediately believe the person sharing their personal story of the miracle to which they were a witness.

I used to have a bumper sticker that I didn't put on my car bumper, but I put on the inside doorframe over the top of my front door. One could read it as a last note before leaving the house. It read, "Expect a Miracle." It was a reminder to me to keep myself open to the wonders of God's creation that I would experience when I left my house. Many people made fun of it, not even having seen it, but just that I told them about it. Others were very cynical in response. They'd say something like, "It will be a miracle if you don't get run down crossing the street with the crazy drivers on the road." Yikes!

I like the phrase, "The Miracle of Believing." I wonder what I would have gotten if I had put that phrase in for a search on Google. I wouldn't even try, really, at this point. But, maybe that would have brought up some wonderful stories; taken me to some spiritual sites. I think, however, if I put in as a search 'JOKES about the miracle of believing,' I would have gotten some cynical responses.

Believing really is a miracle. We are in the Easter season for 40 days until Ascension Day and 50 days until Pentecost. Most of the scriptures will deal with Acts of the Apostles and Gospel accounts of Jesus appearing to his disciples after his resurrection and before his ascension. Each one has an aspect of 'seeing it when you believe it.' The disciples could not have seen Jesus unless their hearts were open to seeing him.

When the two disciples were walking on the road to Emmaus and Jesus joins them, they don't recognize him. Their hearts were not open to it. They were sad, confused. But in the breaking of the bread, a meal he sits down to eat with them, they suddenly realize who he is and he is then no longer there. They don't need to 'SEE' him any longer to believe. They now believe and they know that it was Jesus they had seen. We have only THEIR account. We have to believe without seeing.

Thomas, in one of the most famous 'post resurrection' stories, from which we get the term, 'Doubting Thomas,' says he won't believe until he not only 'sees' but actually touches the mark of the nails in Jesus' hands and in his side. In the story today when Jesus appears again to the disciples and Thomas is there, Thomas SEES Jesus, and it doesn't even record that he actually touched Jesus. He already believed. And Jesus' response is what is very important to us today: his followers today who have not seen the risen Lord. He says, "Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe." Wow.

My belief in the risen Lord is not because I ever saw him. And my belief is not because of the Gospel accounts of his rising from the dead. When I share with someone about my faith, about my belief, I can't say that I was one who walked with Jesus, that I am someone who has seen Jesus. And I don't quote Scripture as proof that Jesus rose from the dead and is alive-eternally alive. No. What I share is my experience of Jesus as alive in my life. It's not all the words or stories that convince me; they pointed me in the right direction. But it was my experience of Jesus that made me believe. So I share how Jesus has made a difference in my life. How his teachings have helped me face the challenges of my life. How his teachings and his promises have kept me from being oppressed by the world, have kept me from succumbing to all the negativity; how his teachings make me believe that love is greater than hate and that there is more love in the world than hate.

And because I believe in his teachings, his promises, his love, his presence-I believe in miracles, and I have been witness to many miracles in my life-and each day I need to remind myself to expect a miracle. Because if I expect a miracle I know that my focus is on the wonderful, positive, possibilities of life.

I believe; therefore I see. Say it with me: I believe; therefore I see. Once more. I believe; therefore I see. Expect a miracle.


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