Seeing is believing – or is it Believing is seeing.
In this case at the tomb of Jesus it is definitely Believing is Seeing.
Mary has come to the tomb to prepare Jesus’ body for proper burial.
She arrives and doesn’t “see” Jesus body so she doesn’t know what to believe has happened.
Seeing doesn’t lead to believing.
She runs off and tells the disciples who come running to the tomb and likewise they don’t see Jesus’ body in the tomb.
So the disciples went back to where they were staying.
Mary stays and begins to weep.
Jesus comes to her to comfort her and even though she “sees” him, she doesn’t believe it is him – she believes he is the gardener.
Seeing Jesus face to face she still doesn’t believe.
But then Jesus calls her by name and she believes – and because she believes she sees.
That seems to be the consistent occurrence throughout the Gospels.
Later on that same day 2 disciples will be walking along the road to Emmaus.
They too had heard about the empty tomb and stories of Jesus rising from the dead but they did not believe.
And because they didn’t believe they don’t see Jesus when he stands beside them – walks with them and talks with them.
But when he stops with them for the night and breaks bread with them they believe and they see – in that order – believing is seeing.
It’s the same with Peter when he sees Jesus walking on the water and believes and is able to also walk on the water.
But then he sees the wind and the waves and stops believing and sinks in the water.
And that’s the message we are to take from this Easter Sunday experience.
As we journey through life we see some tragic things that might suggest that God is not with us – that God does not love us – that God does not care for us.
We can’t see God – so we don’t believe.
And as we see what God gives to us to help us we can sometimes be underwhelmed.
Some bread – some wine- some water.
If that’s all we see then how can these really help us with all that’s going on?
That’s what Mary experienced when she thought she was dealing with the gardener.
And that’s when we need to stop seeing and start believing – to have faith
As the Book of Hebrews says: faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.
And when we start to believe that’s when we start to see clearly – like Mary, like the disciples walking to Emmaus.
That’s when we see that the baby born in humble surroundings is no ordinary baby but the Son of God – God’s Word made flesh.
That’s when we begin to see the that the suffering and humiliation that Jesus received from humankind was actually suffering and humiliation that we deserved from God.
That’s when we see that Jesus death is victory over death that leads to eternal life through his resurrection today.
Believing in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour is seeing that God is for us and with us.
That’s when we see that the bread and wine we receive is Jesus body and blood that assures us of eternal life
That’s when we see that the water of Baptism recreates us as God’s children and promises that through all the turmoil and strife in the world that Jesus promises “I am with you always”.
We believe and we see that promise.
Like Peter walking on the water we will go through times when we are tempted to look at the turmoil around us and begin to sink.
And that’s when Jesus stretches out his hand and brings us back to himself.
So as you celebrate Easter may it strengthen your faith so you may believe and as St John ends his Gospel – may you continue to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing in him you will have life by the power of his name to proclaim to all that Christ is risen – he has risen in deed.
Go, in the peace of the Lord.