- The Rev. Jessica E. Sexton
Believing is Seeing
Do you know what my favorite Christmas movie is?
Don’t worry I know it’s Easter!
But seriously, my favorite Christmas movie is the Santa Clause with Tim Allen. I don’t know if it’s because I’m a 90s kid or what but it just makes the holidays for me.
The best part of the movie for me is when Tim Allen’s character Scott Calvin who is now the new Santa Claus, is being toured around Santa’s Workshop in the North Pole for the first time, and he’s trying to come to terms with the fact that he is in the North Pole. And this elf named Judy, who must make the best hot cocoa tells Tim Allen’s character, that “seeing isn’t believing. Believing is seeing.”
Seeing isn’t believing. And that is so true for the resurrection story today told by Mark’s Gospel where unlike the other Gospels, there is no post-resurrection appearance by Jesus. He doesn’t appear to the women at the tomb or on the road. They don’t get to see a resurrected Jesus. For them, seeing isn’t believing because they don’t get to see him with the wounds in his hands and on his side.
For the women today, believing is seeing. They have to believe the words of an angelic messenger that has brought with him Good News that Jesus has defeated death on the cross and now is alive.
Now let’s be real, that can be a difficult thing to believe without seeing. For Mary Magdalene, she was there at the crucifixion, she saw his flogged body, she witnessed his hands and feet pierced with nails, she saw him hanging from the cross, she was there for his final breath. To believe that he had been raised from the dead after all of that, it would have been a hard to believe if it were me.
But that is what we are called to do today--that is what Mary and those women were called to today, to believe. To believe that Jesus is alive without seeing the body of Christ. To believe in the words of that angel that Jesus has risen, and is not here. To believe that the resurrection of Jesus is more than an eyewitness account of his post-resurrection interactions with people.
To believe that resurrection was not just an event that brought Jesus back to life but a gift of new life for us. And to believe that the resurrection of Jesus is ultimately is a call to action for those women, the disciples, Peter and all of us. We hear this call to action from the angel, “Go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him just as he told you.” Essentially the angel is commissioning all of us to be the bearers of this great news, not just those women.
Go and tell!
Go and tell. God is calling us to go and tell the Good News of Jesus through the ways we live our lives.Because if believing is seeing, than we must act on what what we believe--we must embody our belief in a savior that loves us enough die on the cross so that we may have new life with him, and live out that love in the world.
And make sure, that this embodiment is reflected in the way we put God first in our lives, the ways we trust in God through prayer,Through our service in caring for the communities around us, the ways that we treat one another with love and respect. And also the ways we see that love within ourselves.
Go and tell--is a call to action. As Christians, its a call to not live this life passively. By that I mean, to not avoid dealing with the messy parts of ourselves and others that reject the Good News Jesus has given us to know, and to embody and to share. To not live this life passively means to also not hesitate to act out what you believe.
It is the resurrection that empowers us to not be passive participants on our earthly voyage. To not just coast. To not engage the parts of ourselves and parts of the world that need to know the love of Jesus more than ever. The hope and joy of the Good News of this day of resurrection of Jesus Christ empowers us to believe in the love of God and in our call to be the voice of that Good News.
I read this really good book about year ago called Fearless which was written by the family of Navy Seal Adam Brown who suffered with drug addiction in his early twenties and went on to become sober, a Christian, and a member of Seal Team Six. One of his most memorable quotes was, “Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming, ‘Wow … what a ride.’ ” Being a follower of Jesus, can leave us pretty torn up and used up some days but then pretty loved and fulfilled on others. And wow what a ride we are on!
That is why Life is about living into that call of action (go and tell)--it won’t be easy--it’s messy and it will leave us broken and bruised. But it will also leave us hopeful and joyful because we know that our redeemer lives. That the ride we are on will be with a savior who has journeyed a more painful ride.
What does this life look like for you? What ride will you be on? What call to action does the resurrection evoke for you?
Today Peter in Mark’s Gospel, that call to action did not turn out like he thought, he chose to ride the call of discipleship becoming one of Jesus’ most devout followers. Peter was always the first whether it was to do something or say something. Peter was the one who always made a point to show that he was one of Jesus’ most loyal disciples and believers. Yet when the crucial time came for him to proclaim that he was a disciple of Jesus, Peter denied knowing his teacher and friend.
Can you imagine the guilt and the shame that peter must have experienced once he realized what he had done? The burden on his heart when he realized that Jesus knew he would fail to recognize their friendship?
But Jesus was not done with Peter, the resurrection called him to action. Go and tell my disciples and Peter. Jesus doesn’t him to judgment or shame but gives him another chance. The resurrection is about empowerment--to know that we are all called to go and tell the Good News. That even a man that denied Jesus can be called once again to be God’s saving hand in the world. To believe in God and himself so that he can see that he is capable to engage the needs of the world.
Jesus was not done with Peter and the resurrection was not done with him. Even later when they are on the Beach together Jesus asks Peter do you love me? And he says yes, and Jesus commissions him to take care of his sheep--his people. Jesus believed in Peter and he believes in all of us. That we are called to share the good news that Christ beat death on the cross so that we may know that saving and forgiving love of God, and so that we may have the courage to share it with one another.
On this Easter Morning--this Holy Day of Resurrection may we remember that seeing isn’t believing. Believing is seeing--seeing that the resurrection is about being empowered to believe in God because God believes that you can share this Good news! So, Go and tell! Amen.