Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls. (1 Peter 1:8-9 ESV)
I love hearing great stories, especially about ordinary people doing things that end up being extraordinary inspirations. John Adams, Martin Luther King, Billy Graham, Corrie ten Boom — the list can go on and on. I have not met any of them, but others have, and they have given an account of their experiences with them. Their recollections are recorded in history books so that future generations may read, learn, and appreciate them. I have not seen these individuals in person, but I believe they existed because of the abundant evidence we have on record — paintings, photographs, film, legal documents, handwritten manuscripts, etc..
But when we study Jesus, we don’t have the modern artifacts of photographs and film that depict his true image. What we have is the Bible, which contains a written record of him and his work authored by key witnesses. He was not an ordinary man and yet there continues to be a debate about whether he really lived, and if he did, whether he was God. Was it the Lord’s intention to have it this way, where there is no authentic image of Jesus to be found anywhere? Perhaps, the having a painting or photograph of Jesus would move people to worship the artifact instead of the Lord himself? After all, signs and wonders even had a limited positive effect on belief.
Nevertheless, the apostles were moved by the Spirit to document Jesus’ story and share the good news of salvation. And as each generation read his story, many have developed a strong love for him, becoming men and women of faith because he transformed their lives. He offered hope and healing, and his miracles revealed glimpses of all the divine promises that will come with eternal life.
Jesus said to [Thomas], “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:29 ESV)
We are blessed and relieved because death and hell no longer have a grip on us. The salvation of our souls is the gift from Jesus that enables us to breathe a joyful sigh.