John 16:12-22 – “Seeing is Believing”


I know that Jesus Christ is risen, because I have seen Him… and so have you.  That sounds like an incredulous statement, but it is true.  Jesus Christ has been revealed to you, and you have seen Him.  This is the gift of faith.  Faith is not what you think it is.  Faith is not an intellectual ascent to a set of principles; faith is not agreement with an argument; faith is not something that one can work in the mind. Look at the me. Do you see me?  Of course you do, but what you see is not me, it is the light reflected off my face that your mind sees as me.  This is the same thing as faith.  Faith is as much of a working of the intellect as seeing me.  Faith is more like seeing me than like agreeing with an argument I make.  This is what faith is.  If you have faith, then you have seen the Lord.

In our Gospel text for this morning we read about what it means to receive faith.  Jesus said, “A little while, and you will see me no longer; and again a little while, and you will see me.”  Now this text can be understood in one of three ways.  First, this is part of Jesus’ words to His disciples on Maundy Thursday, before His crucifixion, death, and resurrection.  Just one day later, they would see Him no longer.  But just three days after that, they saw Him again.  He was raised from the dead and they saw Him again.  Now Jesus said that Jesus was going to the Father, which is what happened when He ascended.  This is the second way of understanding this text.  And while we see Him no longer, when He returns and we are raised with Him, we will see Him again, face to face.  But there is a third way to understand this text.  Jesus said, “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.  When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth, for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak, and He will declare to you the things that are to come.  He will glorify me, for He will take what is mine and declare it to you.”  Jesus has just spoken of the coming of the Holy Spirit and then He says, “A little while, and you will see me no longer; and again a little while, and you will see me.” This text is speaking of the coming of the Holy Spirit and the seeing of faith.

Jesus said the Spirit, “will glorify me, for He will take what is mine and declare it to you.”  So just what does it mean for the Spirit to glorify Jesus?  The word Jesus uses – that we translate as glorify – is the word doxa.  This is the same word we translate as faith.  This is a strange word that has a nuanced meaning.  At its heart, this word means to appear and have the appearance; to be seen and how one is seen.  But it also means how one appears to others; one’s reputation.  It also means what one appears to be to someone; one’s opinion of another.  When you sum it all up, doxa means the seeing of the person that we see.  Look in the mirror, and you will see your doxa and in our fallen sinful world, the image we see in the mirror shapes what we believe ourselves to be.  When you look at me, you see my doxa and in our fallen sinful world, the image you see shapes what we believe about me.  After all, the old skeptic’s adage is true.  Seeing is believing.  This is what the Holy Spirit brings, the glory of Jesus Christ, which is itself the glory of the Father.  The Spirit reveals the glory of the Son and we see Him and seeing Him, we believe.  This is the miracle of faith.  The faith of Jesus is the glory of Jesus.  We believe in Jesus as the Spirit reveals His glory.  That glory is faith.

Jesus Christ is risen and you have seen Him.  And having seen Him – revealed by the Spirit – you have been entrusted with sharing the Good News.  This news you share has been Good News for you, in that you have seen Jesus revealed by the Spirit.  This news is Good for those to whom you share it, for when and where the Spirit wills He reveals Jesus and that revelation of His glory is the gift of faith given by the Father.  And this news is Good News for the one who is sharing that news.  Though while the sharing of this news can be uncomfortable, even painful, its result is unimaginable joy.  “When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world.”  In the same way, our sharing of the Good News of Jesus Christ can be uncomfortable, even painful, but the sharing will lead you to the incredible joy of seeing that new life being born into the world.  When and where the Spirit wills, He reveals Jesus’ glory and those now seeing, believe.  Seeing is believing, and believing is seeing.  This is faith.

Jesus Christ is Risen! …  Amen.

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