“Have faith.” It’s what we say when we are not sure of an outcome. “Have faith, it will all work out.” “Have faith, the doctors are really good at what they do.” “Have faith, your daughter will come around eventually.”
Easter gives us a whole different take on this. We have faith because we cannot see the outcome. Faith begins and ends in not seeing. When the disciple Thomas demands that he see and touch the risen Jesus’ wounds, Jesus gently reprimands him, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
The challenge of the life of faith is to be like the women at the tomb in Luke 24. They came with their spices expecting to see Jesus’ body, but found it empty. In the midst of their puzzlement, two angels helped by reminding them of what Jesus had told them–“that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again.”
This recollection sparked sudden understanding, and quickly they ran and told the others. Actually the original language reads, “they kept on saying” it. They were incessant in the news they brought. What news? We don’t have the text of their message, but almost certainly it was not “The tomb is empty, the tomb is empty,” but “Our Lord has risen just as he said! Our Lord has risen just as he said!”
Sadly, the others found their report incomprehensible. They had all seen Jesus die. At the end of that horrible ordeal they had seen for themselves that he was really and truly dead. Seeing is believing, right?
Here is where the act of seeing can actually discourage faith. The other disciples clung stubbornly to what they had seen hanging on the cross and refused to be budged. Probably hoping to prove the women wrong, Peter finally went to check out the empty tomb for himself. We are told he is amazed, but there is no evidence of understanding. He is too stubborn to make the cosmic leap from fact into faith.
What we learn from this is that sacred act of faith begins in trust. The women knew Jesus had risen because he told them he would, and they trusted that what he said was true. They did not need, like Thomas, to see for themselves. As we live into the Easter season, let us be discerning in our choice of those in whom we place our trust, recognizing at the same time that faith is not an abstract notion but a lived experience that reveals far greater truths than the eye could ever behold.
Christ is risen! Alleluia! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!
Pastor Nancy Raabe