Easter is a season, not a day. Easter is a way of life, an anticipation to see the risen Christ appear when you least expect it. When the disciple Thomas missed Christ’s first appearance to all the other disciples, he insisted, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands, put my finger in the wounds left by the nails, and put my hand into his side, I won’t believe.” If seeing is believing, what does it mean for every generation since to believe in a risen Christ we can’t see with our eyes, whose scars we can’t touch? How can anyone verify that it Jesus Christ is alive and active in the world today if our eyes cannot scientifically prove it? Once again, we return to Pontius Pilate’s eternal question, “What is truth?”
In the second verse of Charles Wesley’s hymn, “And Can It Be?” we get this concept that supernatural creatures who live every minute in the full presence of God, these seraphim and angels are seeking to discover what is going on in the crucifixion of Christ. At its heart, the crucifixion of Christ is a mystery that even God’s angels struggle to explore and discern its meaning. For Wesley, the crucifixion reveals the depths of God’s love, a love so deep that even the most powerful supernatural creatures cannot find the end of it. For Wesley, there comes a point where the inquiry takes a break and he adores what he sees as God’s mercy.
For Christians, the life and death of Christ prove God’s mercy and love for humanity, and the resurrection proves that Jesus is, as Thomas exclaims upon seeing the risen One, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus’ reply to Thomas was for everyone who would come after him: “Do you believe because you see me? Happy are those who don’t see and yet believe” (John 20:29). We often understand “belief” to mean some sort of mental assent to the facts. But the Greek word for believe can equally be translated to mean “trust.” Trust in Christ has less to do with asserting a system of rules, and more to do with following a person. To trust that Christ is the Son of God is to live a life that reflects his sacrificial love for the enemy, his desire to bring real healing to others, his table fellowship with the outcasts and religious elite alike. To trust that Christ is the Son of God is to explore the mystery of an infinite, universe-creating Being would choose self-denial, personal suffering and sacrifice as the way to reveal love to all creation…even for me.
This comic is Part Two in a six-part series exploring Charles Wesley’s hymn, “And Can It Be That I Should Gain?” Check out this fantastic version of the song, by Indelible Grace. For more commentary on this week’s Gospel text, check out Working Preacher. Come back next Tuesday, or subscribe to get the comic in your inbox!