When You're More Blessed Than Mary

When You're More Blessed Than Mary

Jesus says, "Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed" (John 19:29).

What he means is that those who have never seen him in person and still believe in him are blessed.

But that's not easy. We're certainly not prone to think this way. I mean, can you imagine what it would have been like to see Jesus? To see God in the flesh, lying in a manger? To hear the first sounds uttered from his vocal chords? To actually touch him? To touch the Nazarene, fully God, fully man, one person with two natures?

What a privilege that must have been. Surely, this would make our faith stronger. But hold on a minute. That's not exactly how it works. Don't forget what Jesus said.

Jonathan Edwards writes,

‘Tis a greater blessedness to have spiritual communion with God and to have a saving relationship with him by the instances of his Spirit and by the exercise of true devotion than it is to converse with God externally, to see the visible representation and manifestations of his presence and glory, and to hear his voice with the bodily ears as Moses did. For in this spiritual relationship the soul is nigh unto and hath more a particular portion than in any external relationship.

‘Tis more blessed to be spiritually related to Jesus Christ — to be his disciples, his brethren and the members — than to stand in the nearest temporal relation, than to be his brother or his mother. (“That Hearing and Keeping the Word of God Renders a Person More Blessed”)

Edwards says that we who know Jesus spiritually are more blessed than those who knew him “externally.” It's better to be united to him by faith than to have actually seen him with our eyes, heard him with our ears, or touched him with our hands. (Which means, by implication, we are more blessed than the virgin Mary.)

Remember what Peter (who saw a side of Jesus his mother never did) said about us. We have something more sure than the Father's majestic voice of affirming thunder in Matthew 17:5. We have the prophetic word, Peter explains — the Holy Scripture produced by men who “spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:17–21).

This revelation, and therefore this relationship, is more precious. It “hath more a particular portion.” Said another way, our mystical union with Jesus is more reliable than our feeling the scars on his side. Why? Because the cause of our union is more certain than the nerves on our hands. We are in Christ because of God's imperishable seed, his living and abiding word that remains forever (1 Peter 1:23–25). God has done this. God. And what we see is less important than what he says. Emperical anything must bow to the authority of our Sovereign's resolve.

So as special as it would have been to walk beside Jesus in Galilee, I'd rather love him whom I've never seen, believe in him whom I don't now see, and rejoice with an inexpressible joy that comes by faith, not sight — knowing all along that one day I'll see him as he is (1 John 3:2).

But today, “Blessed are those,” Jesus says, “who have not seen and yet have believed.”


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Jonathan Parnell (@jonathanparnell) is a writer and content strategist at Desiring God. He lives in the Twin Cities with his wife, Melissa, and their four children, and is the co-author of How to Stay Christian in Seminary.