Easter Day, April 21
In John’s account of the resurrection, when the beloved disciple entered the tomb, he believed but his belief was unclear. “Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead” (John 20:8-9). Did he believe merely that the tomb was empty, as Mary Magdalene reported, or did he believe that Jesus had risen? In Luke’s account, the women who were witnesses to the resurrection and reported the news to the disciples were met with unbelief. “Now it was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them who told this to the apostles. But these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them” (Luke 24:10-11).
The transition from unbelief to faith is a miracle of creation; it is the act of God who calls into being something from nothing, who brings death-defeating life from the grave and hell. The awakening of faith in the resurrection of Jesus Christ is an inner awakening and participation in his very life. Faith says, “I know that my redeemer lives.” Faith says, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.” Faith says, “He is my life and salvation.” Faith is the language of Jesus Christ.
We who are the members of Christ’s body are witnesses to his resurrection, to an ancient event, and to its enduring power. “We are witnesses to all that he did both in Judea and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree; but God raised him on the third day, and allowed him to appear, not to all the people but to us who were chosen by God as witnesses, and who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one ordained by God as judge of the living and the dead” (Acts 10:39-42). We have been chosen as witnesses through the sheer and utter grace of God.
Christ has appeared to us, children of God by adoption and grace; we see him with the eyes of faith. We eat and drink with him in the consecrated bread he gives and the wine he shares. We testify to him by what we do and what we say. Jesus Christ is the lifeblood and being of the Church and all her members. To us, this is not an idle tale. This is life and hope and salvation.
The resurrection of Jesus Christ is proclaimed; it is not proven. It is announced; it is not demonstrated by artifacts of a distant time. It is a mystery, but a mystery that is true. To those who believe, the resurrection is “steadfast love that endures forever,” “my strength and my might,” “my salvation,” “exultation and victory,” and a conviction that “I shall not die [forever], but I shall live” (Ps. 118:1, 14-17).
Do you believe? Do you struggle with unbelief? Even now God is awakening foreordained witnesses to the resurrection of his Son. God is breaking hearts and there making new temples where his Son may live and move and be. Consider these words of St. Basil the Great: “He was not content merely to summon us back from death to life; he also bestowed on us the dignity of his own divine nature and prepared for us a place of eternal rest where there will be joy so great as to surpass all human imagination.” All this is for us.
Look It Up
Read the Collect for the Day.
Think About It
God gives us joy, renewal, and life.