Can you believe in something that you have never seen? How do you know that something is true if you have never seen it or experienced it yourself? Those are questions that some ask in regard to the resurrection of Jesus Christ that we celebrate yearly on Easter Sunday. Some doubt the resurrection of Jesus because it is difficult for them to grasp how a person who has died can be brought back to life again.
Believing in something we cannot understand is not new for modern people. Even with all the scientific knowledge that exists, there are things that we encounter daily that are hard for most of us to understand. Each time I flip on the light switch and the lights come on, I am doing something that I do as a repetitive motion but one that is not something I truly understand. I simply know that, unless the electrical power to the house is not working, when I do it the lights in the light fixture will produce light. The light bulbs themselves are a mystery as to how they work. Perhaps Thomas Edison understood how the light bulb worked since he invented them, but for me as an average consumer I only know that if the light bulb is in the light fixture and connected to the electrical lines running through the house, then light will be produced by my action of flipping the light switch.
There are so many innumerable other things that we do in life that we do not understand that we have grown accustomed to simply doing them or using them without knowing exactly how they work and that is the way our lives are ordered. I use a cell phone and a computer daily and I have no idea how simply pushing buttons or tapping a keyboard causes words to appear on a screen that I can print out on a sheet of paper or send electronically to people around the world. I simply do these things and have faith that it will work unless there is a problem inside my computer or phone that causes it not to work (and I don’t understand how that can be either.)
So, we all live our lives daily in ways in which we place faith in objects or customs to do the things in life we want to do without understanding how those things work or what causes them to do what we want them to do. Why is spiritual faith something that operates out of the normal way of life when it comes to belief in something that we cannot explain?
When I say that I believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, that God raised Jesus from the dead in some supernatural way, I can believe in that idea without understanding how it happened. If I believe that there was a man named Jesus Christ of Nazareth who lived over 2000 years ago in a land we now call Israel and whose teachings make sense for ordering our lives, then why can I not take another leap of faith (who is to say that any historical persons we learned about in school or at church actually existed? We believe in them because we trust the people who taught us to believe in them.) and say that it is possible that God (another matter of faith—to believe in God takes faith on the part of the believer) could raise Jesus from the dead and bring him back to a spiritual life that is beyond explanation.
The celebration of Easter precedes the celebration of Christmas by many centuries. Persons in the Early Church saw the resurrection of Jesus as one of the hallmarks of what it means to be called a Christian. The life, teachings, and death of Jesus are vastly important to society and humankind but the resurrection of Jesus sets Christianity apart from other religions because Christians believe that if Jesus was raised from the dead, then we too will experience a spiritual resurrection when we die.
I choose to believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, not because I can explain how it happened but because it gives me hope for the future and purpose in life knowing that this life is not all there is. I am not wishing for a quick exit from this life because I enjoy life and living but I do not have to be afraid of death or dying because God has prepared something after this life that I believe exists through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Each time I officiate at a funeral I begin with the same words called “The Word of Grace”. It says, “Jesus said, I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, yet shall they live, and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die.” Those words of Jesus give me hope that through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, we all can experience a continued existence after this one ends. That hope conquers any fear that society’s ills may produce. We have hope in Christ because Christ has conquered death and our lives are contained in his life so we too will have life beyond death when our time comes.
May the love of God, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be yours both now and always. Amen.