Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.
-- Hebrews 1:11
Hawaii's "Aloha State" nickname makes sense. "The Sunshine State" (Florida) is self-explanatory. But how did Missouri become "The Show Me State"?
The best-known explanation attributes the phrase to Missouri Congressman Willard Duncan Vandiver. While a member of the U.S. House Committee on Naval Affairs, Vandiver gave a speech at a banquet in Philadelphia. That's where he declared, "I come from a state that raises corn and cotton and cockleburs and Democrats, and frothy eloquence neither convinces nor satisfies me. I am from Missouri. You have got to show me."
The saying goes that seeing is believing. And the Bible records that many people believed in Jesus after they witnessed his miracles and heard him speak. But we also read in the Gospel of John about a different government official who apparently wasn't from Missouri. No one had to show him to believe:
At Capernaum there was an official whose son was very ill. When he heard that Jesus had left Judea and had arrived in Galilee, he went off to see him and begged him to come down and heal his son, who was by this time at the point of death.
Jesus said to him, "I suppose you will never believe unless you see signs and wonders!"
"Sir," returned the official, "please come down before my boy dies!"
"You can go home," returned Jesus, "your son is alive and well." And the man believed what Jesus had said to him and went on his way.
On the journey back his servants met him with the report, "Your son is alive and well." So he asked them at what time he had begun to recover, and they replied: "The fever left him yesterday at one o'clock in the afternoon". Then the father knew that this must have happened at the very moment when Jesus had said to him, "Your son is alive and well." And he and his whole household believed in Jesus.
Today more than 2,000 years after that incident, there's no one alive who's an eyewitness to Jesus' recorded miracles. But that doesn't mean we have to check our minds at the church door to believe that he's indeed the Son of God and the Savior of the world. Not only did Jesus fulfill dozens of Old Testament prophesies recorded centuries before his birth in a tiny village called Bethlehem (which itself fulfilled ancient prophecy to the letter), countless people also witnessed his miracles. Likewise, the Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians that Jesus appeared to more than 500 people after his crucifixion and burial. And the Apostle Peter, who was one Jesus' earliest and closest followers, also offered this reliable testimony:
When we told you about the powerful coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, we were not telling just clever stories that someone invented. But we saw the greatness of Jesus with our own eyes. Jesus heard the voice of God, the Greatest Glory, when he received honor and glory from God the Father. The voice said, "This is my Son, whom I love, and I am very pleased with him." We heard that voice from heaven while we were with Jesus on the holy mountain.
Whether you're from Missouri--or anywhere else for that matter-- it all adds up to a mountain of evidence that's plain to see. And what's more, it's evidence that demands a response from you and me.