Easter Sunday – saw and believed…did not yet understand…returned home

Easter Sunday, Year A | John 20: 1-10

saw and believed…did not yet understand…returned home (vs.8-10)

The experience of the two disciples at Jesus’s empty burial cave is typical of the human experience. We see and so we believe. Not just Jesus, but anything. We want to eat better, yell less at our loved ones. We see someone else succeed at these tasks, and so we try their way for ourselves. Success! Now we are converts, true believers…until we return, revert, often inexplicably, to our old way of doing things. Even when we don’t want to go back.

It isn’t until some kind of unseen grace overtakes us that we finally, if we’re blessed, change permanently. The lightning bolt or the gradual transformation we don’t see happening—that’s the grace. Deeply desired but not of our making. They happen to us. As humans, we don’t understand the intricacies of our wiring, the fingerprint of God within us. But the God who knows our every hair can grant us a reprieve from ourselves. He can give us that grace, a glimpse of understanding. As long as we understand that it’s only a glimpse—that we do not, cannot in fact, control it.

Our belief is what allows for that sacred glimpse. It doesn’t bring about full understanding. It can’t. If the people who lived side-by-side with Jesus, who saw His miracles in person, who knew every nuance of the prophecies that His life fulfilled, didn’t fully grasp the resurrection, then those of us who live two thousand odd years later will always struggle to catch up.

That is why Alcoholics Anonymous requires submission to a higher authority. Without it, we return to our baser instincts.

But with it, we can do miracles. Just ask the disciples. Performed in Jesus’s name, their miracles multiplied. The disciples might not have understood the mechanism of the miracle, but they knew the source. They had seen. They had believed. And they knew they were not the origin. They knew, as Paul said, “At present we see indistinctly, as in a mirror, but then face to face” (1Cor. 13:12), that only in the fullness of time will we understand everything.

That’s why we need regular time to check in with God, to be reminded that we are not in control. When things are going well, when we feel like we have a semblance of control, it’s easy to think we are the source. But regular time in prayer and/or meditation keeps us grounded, reminds us that we have to keep re-submitting our will to God. His grace is sufficient (2Cor. 12:9), but only if we remember, and regularly re-remember, that it’s through His grace we are able to accomplish great things.

The mountaintop experience, the moment of clarity and understanding, is not meant to last forever. It’s meant to carry us forward. So that when we want to “return home,” to revert to the old, we have something to propel us into the future promised by the Resurrection. Happy Easter!

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