Believing is one of the essential virtues of Christian life. Yet, many people want evidence of God’s existence…
The intent of this article is by no means to prove to you that God exists or to provide you with an equation or formula that would only limit the greatness of our Lord. These humble words focus on the importance of believing in our one true living God: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
Many people did not believe in Jesus Christ when they saw Him physically walking the streets of Jerusalem. They refused to believe that He is the Son of God, despite seeing Him perform miracles and heal the sick with their own eyes. In comparison, miles away in Edessa (Urfa), King Abgar, who ruled over many Armenians, believed in Jesus Christ.
One of our 5th century Church Fathers, Movses Khorenats‘i accounts that King Abgar had an untreatable skin disease. The king believed that Jesus was God’s revelation in this world and the Son of God was the only one who could cure him. So, he sent a letter to Jesus inviting Him to his Kingdom to heal him, knowing also that people persecuted the Savior in Jerusalem.
Jesus Christ actually responded to King Abgar saying that blessed is he who believes in Him without seeing, for it is written about Him in the Scriptures: Those who see Him shall not believe in Him, but those who do not see Him shall believe. King Abgar also received an image of Christ imprinted on either linen or canvas. Christ also affirmed that He would not be able to visit King Abgar, but would send one of His disciples to cure his disease after His Ascension. Christ in a way foretold what was going to happen to Him to King Abgar… but could the king see the source of Christ’s words?
Indeed, just as Christ had promised, Thaddeus fulfilled His words. He approached King Abgar and healed him, as well as all those who were sick in the city. The king gave Thaddeus the opportunity to proclaim the Gospel in his kingdom, becoming the first Christian King, who is also seen as a saint in the Armenian Church! Thaddeus freely taught that Jesus Christ was the Son of God, who came into this world for the expiation and remission of the sins of human beings, through His birth, torture, death, and resurrection.
Unlike King Abgar, who never saw Jesus with his own eyes, Christ’s own apostle, Thomas, doubted our Lord saying: “Unless I see in his hands the print of the nails, and place my finger in the mark of the nails, and place my hand in his side, I will not believe” (Jn 20:25). But when Thomas encountered the risen Christ, Jesus gave him the opportunity to touch His wounds and it was only after this that Thomas believed that He indeed was Jesus Christ, who had risen from the dead! Jesus’ reply to him was along the lines of His response to King Abgar, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe” (Jn 20:29).
Believing is not easy. Whether one chooses to be King Abgar or Thomas in the 21st century, Christ’s love for humanity overpowers our limited rationale of His essence.