Praying til Pentecost Day 9
- "And they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy and ran to report it to the disciples." Matthew 28:8
- "And when they heard that He was alive and had been seen by her, they refused to believe it." Mark 16:11
- "And these words appeared to them as nonsense, and they would not believe them. But Peter arose and ran to the tomb." Luke 24:11
"Seeing is believing!" The world in which we live scorns the fool who trusts in something he cannot see. Jesus invites His followers to become citizens of a kingdom where, "Believing is seeing!"
"WUDDA! CUDDAH! SHUDDAH!" These words are the vision statement of those who are determined to blast through life politely ignoring God. They use their rear view mirror as a corrective lens for their terminal blindness, and still miss God nine ways from Dallas.
In my first pastorate, I remember George telling me over and over again how this church had missed God four times. He would use every cross road in our church's decision making as an occasion to roll out the ancient scrolls of his impeccable memory and recite once again the horrid details and tragic consequences. It was hugely demoralizing and effectively paralyzing.
After a couple of years, my five year old could mouth the words of his story and almost lip sync it perfectly. The facts were accurate, but the missing ingredient was the lesson learned. In all of the stories, the failure was based upon an inability to "see" God in the present tense. They could always see the result of missing God in the past tense, but they could not see through the cloud of doubt and see the blessing of God in the future, if they obeyed Him in the present.
They had seen it with their own eyes, albeit from a distance. They knew the finality of the cross. They had seen the trauma and smelled the drama of death. The stench in their nostrils was still fresh, and their mind's eye could not erase the recent memory of the crucifixion. Christians have always been intimidated by immediate circumstances. Some things never change.
As a result of what they had seen in the past, Friday was a finale. They were unable to believe the fresh word God had for them in the present tense, because they would not believe what they heard.
The Risen Christ was shifting their eyes from their rear view mirror to their windshield. From this day forward, they would not be called upon to trust what they had seen, but to put their confidence in what they heard. Faith was to come from hearing and "hearing by the word of Christ." (Romans 10: 17)
All they saw ahead was the dark and foreboding future of a life without Jesus. They were about to learn that in the Kingdom of Heaven, "Believing is seeing!" Their first response to what they heard about the Risen Christ was willful disbelief, and scornful derision. They not only rejected the message, but they had to rebuke the messenger for delivering nonsense.
The Risen Christ chose to send a woman to deliver the greatest message the world could ever hear. It may have been that the disciples did not approve of the method as well as the message. In any event, they rejected the message and the messenger. They refused to believe what they could not see with their own eyes. They would have nodded in agreement with the phrase, "Seeing is believing!"
More Christians and churches have been killed by the paralysis of analysis than any leap of faith. The early disciples were faced with the facts of the death of Jesus, and could not bring themselves to put their confidence in what they heard about Him.
Today's lesson is for those who remain faithful in delivering the message they have heard from the Risen Christ. The messenger is not responsible for the reaction to the truth. The messenger is only responsible to the Master to deliver the truth.