I’ve lost count of the number of times people have said to me, “everything happens for a reason.” It is normally in response to a personal tragedy or unexplained event. I often wonder what evidence lies behind that assertion. The desire to see meaning in the apparent chaos of the world seems entrenched. Of course, It could be an evolutionary artefact, like seeing patterns in the clouds, leftover from a need to make sense of the world so our ancestors didn’t get eaten by sabre-tooth tigers! Faith in that sense would be believing something in spite of the evidence, or despite evidence to the contrary.
Christians use the word faith very differently. In the New Testament, it’s not seen as an abstract quality, where someone might have 15 units of it, another 30 or another 5. It’s always faith in something, much more akin to trust than a set of intellectual convictions. For the first disciples, it was staking their lives, both now and in eternity, on something they passionately believed to be true. The root of their (and our) conviction is that Jesus rose from the dead. They witnessed it with their own eyes. We continue to believe the evidence for this historical event is compelling and have experienced the lifechanging reality of encountering Jesus. To speak of the resurrection as a metaphor or in spiritual terms like ‘he rose in their hearts’ would have made no sense whatever to the disciples. The reality was difficult to comprehend, but they couldn’t deny the evidence of their own eyes and fingers as they reached out to touch him.
The resurrection was the final evidence they needed that the claims Jesus made during his earthly life were true. This was more than just a man, but in a real sense, God squeezed into human form. St. Paul put it very starkly, “If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God!”
How very joyous then, that He has!! Christ is risen: He is risen indeed, Alleluia.