“You have not seen him.” That’s the reality we live with as modern disciples. Does that leave us at a severe disadvantage? Have we been separated by too many centuries? We’ve never laid our physical eyes on Jesus, never touched him with our hands or heard him with our ears. But this fact isn’t ignored or glossed over in Scripture, and it’s certainly not presented as an obstacle to faith or an insurmountable barrier to joy. Just listen to what the apostle Peter–who had seen and heard and touched Jesus–wrote to people of his own era.
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 Pet 1:8-9)
Think about that. Many, many people who lived in the first century never laid eyes on Jesus. And yet, they could be “born again to a living hope” through Jesus’ resurrection from the dead (1:3).
The vast majority of people who lived in the first century never heard Jesus speak. And yet, they could be confident of “an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven” for them (1:4).
Men and women who had been dispersed throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia never had the opportunity to touch Jesus, but according to Peter himself, they were “being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1:5).
And “in this you rejoice” (1:6). You’ve not been forgotten, abandoned, or left behind. Whether you live in the first or the eleventh or the twenty-first century, your hope can be set “fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1:13). Take the time to read 1 Peter 1 today and see for yourself. Souls can be purified by obedience to the truth. Sincere brotherly love can flow from purified hearts. Anyone can be born again through the living and abiding word of God. Grace is real. Hope is alive. Joy inexpressible can carry you through fiery trials. Faith in Christ still has a glorious outcome.
The elect exiles who received Peter’s first letter never laid eyes on Jesus. And yet, “grace and peace” was being “multiplied” to them (1:2). They never heard Jesus preach a sermon, but their lives had been forever changed by “the good news that was preached” to them (1:25). Twenty centuries later, all flesh is still comparable to grass and all our glory like the flower of grass. The grass continues to wither. The flower continues to fall. But two thousand years have not eroded this glory-filled fact: “the word of the Lord remains forever.”
Though you have not seen him, you are at no disadvantage whatsoever. Though you do not now see him, you will.