Mark 16:11, But when they [the disciples] heard that He was alive and had been seen by her [Mary Magdalene], they would not believe it.
It amazes me that the disciples—the ones closest to Jesus—did not believe He was risen from the dead, especially because He told them several times He would die and then rise on the third day. It wasn’t until Jesus appeared to them as they were eating a meal and rebuked them for their unbelief that they finally believed (Mark 16:14). It’s odd thinking Jesus accused the disciples of unbelief. But we’re just like them. It is human nature that we won’t believe something strange—something contrary to nature—until our eyes see evidence of it. For example, it’s impossible to lick your elbow with your tongue. Go ahead and try it; I’ll wait… See? It’s impossible, and now you believe. Strange, right? Likewise, the disciples for some reason thought it strange and impossible that Jesus could be risen from the dead, and so they did not believe until Jesus Himself came and rebuked them.
C.S. Lewis once said, “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen; not because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.” Christians don’t adhere to Christianity because they happen to agree with its moral standards. Christians become Christians because the foundation of Christianity—Jesus Christ—gives them the truth by which they see. So I say seeing is not believing, but rather believing is seeing. One may say, “But the disciples believed in His resurrection by sight!” Yes, but not because they came to Him, for all are unable to come to Christ and accept Him, but only because Jesus came to them. If He hadn’t revealed Himself, who knows if they would’ve believed? Just as Jesus revealed Himself to the disciples, He reveals Himself to us in the Scriptures.
We all have difficulty accepting flaws in our personality. Sometimes instead of coming to terms with our faults, we’ll put the blame on someone else. As much as we’d like to think otherwise, we are not the standard of perfection. God is. When evil happens in the world, believers and unbelievers alike blame God for His supposed hatred or indifference (which is self-contradictory to the unbeliever because you can’t be angry at a God you claim doesn’t exist). When that happens, we blame God rather than the actual cause of such evil: us. We are the cause of terror and evil. We are the cause of sin and idolatry. So God gave us the Law that reveals to us that we are empty… of righteousness. Only God is righteous and perfect and just and holy. We have no authority to question and oppose Him. When we do, we are like an ant that has the foolish audacity to confront a giant being.
We walk around in this life thinking we are the standard of perfection, thinking that seeing is believing—we won’t believe in God or Jesus’ resurrection until we see it. But we never will, at least not until Jesus returns and by then it’ll be too late for the one without faith. So God’s Law crushes us with our guilt and our sin, which leads us to the light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ who gives us sight. With the Law we see our sin and the world for what it really is—our filthy righteousness (Isaiah 64:6) and our inability to become holy and save ourselves. By Jesus Christ we see His hope, His forgiveness, His grace, His mercy, His salvation. By faith He gives us the ability to see who He truly is, and who God is, and the hope in Him that is to come. “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). By faith, our hope is not one of grasping at straws hoping that something will happen by mere chance. Rather, the hope of our faith is the assurance—the knowing—that what is to come in Jesus is going to happen.
Faith is not waiting for some sort of revelation that we can see in order to believe. Rather, faith knows. By faith, we know the promise was fulfilled in Jesus, we know He did all His ministries, we know He died, we know He rose from the dead, we know He ascended to the right hand of the Father, and we know He will come again to judge the living and the dead. It is by this knowing in faith in Jesus Christ that we see the true character of God our Father and how He desires to be in relationship with the people He made in His image. Sight does not give us faith; faith gives us sight. It is by faith that we see God.