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When we were young, we believed the impossible. From a man in a red suit delivering our Christmas toys to a fairy leaving a dollar under our pillows, whatever our parents told us was the “gospel truth,” if you will.

But then life happened. We grew older, and life experiences made us more skeptical of what we had been told. We went from believing the impossible to telling people, “I’ll believe it when I see it.”

Even though Thomas had seen many impossible things during his time with Jesus (Lazarus raised to life, Jesus walking on water and calming the storm, picking up baskets full of leftovers at the feeding of the 5,000), he didn’t believe the Easter message he was being told. “Jesus is risen!” the other disciples told him. “I’ll believe it when I . . . touch it,” Thomas said. With gruesome details, Thomas demands hands-on evidence of the bodily resurrection of Jesus before he would ever believe that a crucified Jesus was now alive. Thomas’ faith was based on what he could see and touch, not on what he had been told.


Compare that with the Roman centurion in Capernaum. No doubt this Roman soldier had seen many things in his day, things that would make this grizzled warrior skeptical.

Yet the centurion had a faith that made Jesus marvel. This man believed that Jesus was the Son of God. And accordingly, he believed that Jesus’ Word had power. He believed that the same powerful Word which called the heavens and earth into existence could heal his sick servant. “Only say the word, and my servant will be healed.” (Matthew 8:8 ESV) This man did not need to see or touch Jesus to be convinced that He had power to heal. He simply trusted the power of Jesus to heal by His Word.

Like Thomas, we may sometimes struggle with doubt and weaknesses. Sometimes we feel that if only we SAW Jesus, then we’d be stronger believers. If only we could see some of His miracles, then our faith would increase. Yet, learn from Thomas that signs and wonders will not strengthen faith.

Instead, let us pray for a faith like that of the centurion—a faith that clings to the words and promises of Jesus. Let us go back to the Scriptures again and again, and base our faith on the promises of God. Rejoice that through His Word, God has performed the greatest miracle: He made you a believer in Jesus Whom you have never seen! Rejoice in His Word that Jesus’ death on the cross truly does atone for your sins. Rejoice in His Word that Jesus’ resurrection truly does mean that you are right with God (reconciled and justified), and you too will rise glorified. Remember, faith does not come by “seeing the miracles,” but “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Romans 10:17)

When we were young, we believed the impossible. No wonder Jesus calls on us to have a child-like faith, one that takes Jesus at His Word and joins the centurion in saying, “Say the Word,” and rejoices at Jesus’ promises! As Jesus tells Thomas, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:29) Even so, we pray with the hymn-writer: “Lord, give us a faith such as this!” Amen. (The Lutheran Hymnal 396)

Nathan Pfeiffer is pastor of Berea Lutheran Church in Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota.