Blessed

How many of us reflect upon our physical surroundings, health, and relationships when we consider our blessings?  How many of us truly know what it means to be genuinely blessed?  We sing and pray that God would bless America, but what should be the obvious evidence of His blessings upon our nation?  Would it be safety and security, financial stability, and societal tranquility?  What does our great God and Savior Jesus Christ say about blessing?  While reading the Scriptures, the following verses jumped out at me concerning the whole concept of being blessed.  Let’s look at this very crucial aspect of God’s sovereign dispensing of His goodness into our lives; it is so vitally important to each and every one of us.

The scene is set for us in the gospel of John, after the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, when one of the eleven, Thomas the Twin refuses to believe the testimony of the other disciples, that they have seen the resurrected Christ.  He lets them know that unless he experiences the physical manifestation of Jesus right before his very eyes, he will not believe them.

19 Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, “Peace be with you.”  20 When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side.  Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.  21 So Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you!  As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.”  22 And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.  23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”  24 Now Thomas, called the Twin, one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came.  25 The other disciples therefore said to him, “We have seen the Lord.”  So he said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.”  John 20:19-25

Jesus appears to His disciples for the first time and then commissions them, Thomas being absent.  Although Mary Magdalene had told them about seeing Jesus, they didn’t believe her.  The same thing happens with Thomas when he shows up.  Despite this amazing directive given to them by their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the apostles are more impressed with seeing Jesus Christ very much alive after they saw Him die, and this is the amazing, glorious good news they tell Thomas!  Thomas is incredulous at their assertions and lets them know that unless he sees and touches the Lord Jesus Christ he will not believe.

26 And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them.  Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, “Peace to you!”  27 Then He said to Thomas, “Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side.  Do not be unbelieving, but believing.”  28 And Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!”  29 Jesus said to him, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed.  Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”  And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.  John 20:26-31

Eight days later Jesus Christ stands bodily in their midst, entering the room without going through the doors and recounts back to Thomas the words of his disbelief.  Thomas in humble and repentant faith utters the confession of his belief in the Risen Savior, “My Lord and my God!”  Jesus met Thomas at his weakness and gave him the evidence he required to believe that Jesus Christ is alive even though he saw him die.  God included this passage in the Scriptures to encourage us to believe the testimony given to us through His apostles and prophets so we may be blessed with faith in Jesus Christ.

Thomas was right there with Jesus and the disciples the whole time, and yet Jesus Christ had to reveal the truth to him. We are no different, and that is why Jesus Christ says those who believe in Him without seeing Him are blessed.  Without the sovereign work of God in our hearts none of us would believe the gospel message, the opposition that is within, the fallen sinful nature, and without, Satan and this wicked world, is just too great.  Jesus told Peter at a much earlier time in His earthly ministry, that he was blessed because he confessed Jesus as Christ the Son of God.

13 When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?”  14 So they said, “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.”  15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”  16 Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”  17 Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.”  Matthew 16:13-17

If it wasn’t for God’s divine intervention in Peter’s heart and mind, he would have believed the very things the crowds were saying, even though he walked with Jesus Christ, saw all that He did and heard all that He had to say.  Jesus says that Peter is blessed because this revelation came directly from His Father in heaven.  Peter is differentiated from all of the other men in Israel in that he testified of the truth about Jesus Christ.  However, to reiterate that this blessing has its origins in God alone, it is good for us to see what Jesus Christ says to Peter just moments later.

20 Then He commanded His disciples that they should tell no one that He was Jesus the Christ.  21 From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day.  22 Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!”  23 But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan!  You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.”  Matthew 16:20-23

Beloved brothers and sisters, God’s blessing in our lives is to reveal His Son Jesus Christ to us.  He reveals Him to us through the testimony of His apostles and prophets recorded for us in the pages of the Holy Bible for they wrote the very Word of God through the superintending of the Holy Spirit, and they wrote about His Son Jesus Christ.  Even though Peter was blessed by this God given revelation, the sinful flesh still wanted its way in his life, so that he stood opposed to the very work of God given to Jesus Christ for the reconciling of sinners to Himself.  Jesus gave to Peter, and to all of us the antidote to the work of the flesh in our lives that leads us to an easy believism where our focus in upon the earthly and material realm, rather than God’s eternal and spiritual realm.

24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.  25 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.  26 For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?  Or what will a man exchange for his soul?  27 For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works.  28 Assuredly, I say to you, there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.”  Matthew 16:24-28

What is, was, and will be the result?  Throughout time and to today all those who are Christ’s through faith in Him will bear witness to the truth about Jesus Christ as delivered to us by God in the Holy Scriptures regardless of the cost.  That is what Jesus Christ meant when He said we must take up our cross and follow Him.  He bore witness to the truth and so must we.  It will cost us dearly, but we have been blessed with the knowledge of God through His beloved Son Jesus Christ, and so we are in the Beloved through faith in Him.  If we know Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, then we are indeed blessed by God the Father no matter what the world says.  Amen!

5 For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your bondservants for Jesus’ sake.  6 For it is God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.  7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.  2 Corinthians 4:5-7

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,… Ephesians 1:3

4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.  8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.  10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.  Ephesians 2:4-10

36 Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment.  37 They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword.  They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented—38 of whom the world was not worthy.  They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth.  39  And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, 40 God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us.  Hebrews 11:36-40

Lord Jesus Christ truly all those who know You are blessed.  We can have nothing in this world and yet possess all things through repentant faith in You.  May You bless Your people with the godly desire to honor and glorify You by bearing witness to the truth and living as Your bondservants for the good of others and the furtherance of Your glorious gospel of salvation.  Amen!

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