Believing is Seeing

A personal reflection, based on John 12.20-36, for Tuesday in Holy Week, April 16, 2019


Some Greeks came to Philip, saying to him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.”
We would see Jesus, James Tissot (1836-1902)

Philip told Andrew, then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus, who launched into a soliloquy, truly, a prophecy of his coming death: “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.”

Oft is has been speculated that these Greeks, coming to Jerusalem to share in the Passover celebration, were Gentiles and, thus, as symbols of the future expansion of the mission of Jesus in sharing the gospel of salvation with the world, signals to Jesus that the time to fulfill his God-given destiny to die for the sake of that gospel had come.

I’ve always found it intriguing that we have no definitive word about whether the Greeks saw Jesus. Perhaps that is not the point. Or, perhaps, the point is other than the satisfaction of physical sight. Perhaps seeing Jesus is more, is all about believing Jesus.

If that is so, then I am like those Greeks. For I have not had and will not have the privilege of seeing Jesus in the flesh of his earthly ministry. Nevertheless, I believe.

Therefore, I am as those to whom Jesus referred when speaking to Thomas, who would not believe lest he saw, saying, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.”(1)

In two millennia, countless are those who fulfill this description. Most of them unknown to me and quite a few known to me are numbered among those who, in their words and deeds, bore testimony to the person and presence of Jesus so that I might believe. Therefore, in my day and time and for my remaining days and time, I, as a present benefactor of belief, have shared and do share and will share in what I call “the gospel labor of love” to insure another generation to come of those who have not seen, yet, because of my witness, might believe.


(1) John 20.29

Illustration: We would see Jesus, James Tissot (1836-1902). Note: Tissot depicts the Greeks speaking with Philip while Andrew points to Jesus (dressed in white).

2 thoughts on “Believing is Seeing

  1. Paul,

    My first thought in reading this is WOW…what a responsibility we have in sharing what we believe so that others might believe…’s our Job to pass on our belief even though we have never physically seen Jesus. I can say that in my darkest moments and my highest highs I have felt Jesus and his Love.

    This reflection also leads me to a question for you. Given that you’ve just celebrated a milestone anniversary of your Ordination, do you have any idea over that time how many souls you’ve touched and how many folks you’ve made into believers? I’m guessing it’s in the thousands…and that alone deserves another… WOW!

    Much love!!


  2. Loretta, your comment, “…I have felt Jesus and his Love…”, stirs up my remembrance of something I’ve believed for a long time. That is, Christianity is an incarnational religion; at its heart, a story of God, who is Spirit, taking flesh in Jesus, and Jesus taking flesh, through the Spirit, in us. Thus, the only way anyone knows and can know about God in Christ is that we, in our generation, incarnate, enflesh in the words and deeds of our lives, the Jesus-story; so that others can “read” of Jesus in us.

    As for my 40+ years of ordained ministry, I have no idea of how many people I’ve touched or influenced (I pray, for good!). I only, simply know that I am grateful for this calling and for having been strengthened by the Spirit to serve. Sometimes, when folk discover I’m a retired priest, they say, “So, how long WERE you a priest?” I always reply, “As long as I have breath and strength, I continue to serve.” And, in this realization, I used to pray for many years to come. Now, as I realize daily that I have more life and labor behind me than before me, I simply pray that as long as I’m able, may I be of service.


    Liked by 1 person

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