Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:29)
The Advent story is filled with people who got to see Jesus face-to-face. Mary and Joseph, of course, were the first to set eyes on God in human flesh, to hold his hands, to kiss his feet. They were quickly joined by others. The shepherds arrived next: “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see,” they told one another (Luke 2:15). Simeon also saw the child—even held him in his arms (Luke 2:28). Anna saw him (Luke 2:36–38). The wise men saw him (Matt. 2:10–11). And those initial visitors were just a small fraction of the multitudes who would soon come to sit at the incarnate Savior’s feet.
I confess to feeling a little jealous.
I’d like to see Jesus too. I’d like to gaze on his face—to learn the contour of his chin and the color of his eyes. I’d like to hear his voice with physical ears. I’d like to touch his hands and worship at his feet. Thankfully, today’s verse speaks to everyone born too late to be at either the manger or the tomb. We haven’t seen our Savior face-to-face. But Jesus says we are blessed.
We haven’t seen our Savior face-to-face. But Jesus says we are blessed.
We are those of whom Peter says, “Though you have not seen him, you love him” (1 Pet. 1:8), and who Paul says “walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor. 5:7). While the crowds in Jesus’s earthly lifetime often sought him for the dazzle of a miracle or the spectacle of a sign, we seek our unseen Savior by faith—a faith that could only come from his Spirit. If we haven’t seen and yet still believe, we can have confidence that he lives with us and is at work in us (cf. John 14:17). Truly, we are blessed.
The manger is empty, and the tomb is empty too. Ultimately, it would be foolish to look for Christ in either of those places. Instead, we turn the eyes of faith heavenward, “[seeking] the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God” (Col. 3:1). Do we want to see Jesus? We must seek him where he is. We approach him in worship, we seek him in prayer, and we gaze on him in his Word. We may not have made it to Bethlehem on that starry night, but Christ is nevertheless present with us by his Word and Spirit—particularly in the gathering of his church.
The manger is empty, and the tomb is empty too. Ultimately, it would be foolish to look for Christ in either of those places.
We may not have touched his swaddling cloths or heard his newborn cries, but we have everything we need to experience him. His sensible signs are bread and wine, his voice resounds from a pulpit and a page, his eyes and ears and hands are on display in the weekly assembly of his beloved body.
And one day, just as he ascended, he will return. Writing from his lonely exile on Patmos, John encourages our hearts: “Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him” (Rev. 1:7).
“Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!” (Rev. 22:20).
Would you like to see Jesus? In what ways is walking by faith a blessing? How do you experience Christ by faith?
Not in that poor lowly stable, with the oxen standing by,
We shall see him, but in heaven, set at God’s right hand on high;
When like stars his children crowned all in white shall wait around.
– Cecil Frances Alexander, “Once in Royal David’s City”
This meditation appears in The Weary World Rejoices: Daily Devotions for Advent edited by Melissa Kruger (TGC, November 2021). Purchase through the TGC Bookstore or Amazon. Read more from Megan Hill in her children’s book about the local church, Meg Is Not Alone (Crossway/TGC Kids, November 2022).