John 20:29 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
Based on this Scripture, it is taught that God is not very pleased when sinners must see miracles before they believe in the Lord; such believers are somehow “less blessed” than those who have not seen a miracle. Therefore we are discouraged from ministering in the area of the miraculous when sharing the gospel with the lost. It is much better if they can simply have faith and believe in Jesus without any outward evidence of His existence or His power to save from sin.
While indeed there are those who believe in Jesus apart from witnessing any miracle, is the above premise scriptural?
Let us first examine the verse itself. “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” What is the object of the verb “seen”? If we simply apply the rules of English grammar, we see that the antecedent is “me,” as in “because you have seen me.” Only after doubting Thomas saw the person of Jesus alive in His resurrected form did he believe. Jesus is teaching therefore that “blessed are those who have not see me and yet have believed.” He means that those who have not seen Jesus (especially in His resurrected form) yet have believed in Him are blessed. That includes the great majority of believers today—who have never seen Jesus with their only eyes yet believe on Him.
Therefore this Scripture cannot be used to teach that it is less pleasing to God if someone believes in Jesus after having seen a miracle, for example, a miraculous healing.
Interestingly, the very next verse speaks of the many miraculous signs Jesus performed—concerning which is it arguable that most were miraculous healings.
John 20:30 Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book.
What was the primary purpose of these miracles, perhaps most of which were miraculous healings?
John 20:31 But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
The many miracles Jesus performed during his time on earth were for the purpose of helping people to believe that Jesus is the Messiah.
Is it reasonable to conclude that while verse 29 teaches that it is not pleasing to God if we must first witness miracles before believing in Jesus, the following two verses teach that Jesus performed those very miracles to help people to believe? Would God perform an action that enables us to do something which is displeasing to Him?
It’s a clear contradiction. And we know that Scripture does not contradict Scripture.
For people born or raised in the “christianized” West, it is easier to believe in Jesus than people who are born into a Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, or idol-worshipping culture. For them Christianity is an entirely foreign, “white man’s religion” imported from the West. It is the religion of the white Europeans—the English, the Spanish, the French, the Portuguese, and the Dutch—who invaded and conquered their lands during the era of colonialism, subjecting them to servitude.
In order to overcome such barriers, miraculous healings accompanying and confirming the preaching of the gospel to non-Christian peoples is essential for fruitful evangelism. This was also true during the time of Jesus and the early Church when the gospel was preached to the Jews and Gentiles for whom the Way was considered a strange new sect. At that time there were not churches on every corner, Christian bookstores in the malls, and a variety of Christian TV channels to choose from. That is why Jesus commanded his disciples to “heal the sick and tell them, ‘the kingdom of God is near you.’” (Luke 10:9)
It is one thing to share the gospel with your friend or neighbor who grew up in a typical neighborhood in the West. It is an entirely different thing to share the gospel with idolatrous people in the jungles of Indonesia who never once in their entire lives heard the name of Jesus Christ.