I use two technical terms to understand Easter Faith.
The first is “intuitive type.” It is said that twenty-five percent of the population are intuitive types. An intuitive uses their sixth sense. When an intuitive enters a room, he or she quickly and readily sense what people are thinking and feeling. The second term is “sensory type.” This refers to the seventy-five percent of the population who learn of the world around them using their five senses: taste, touch, smell, hearing and seeing.
The story of the Empty Tomb is designed for the “intuitive types” of this world. In Mark’s Gospel the women ponder, “Who will roll away the stone from the entrance to the tomb?”(16:3). Then, when they see that the stone has already been rolled back, they enter the tomb. Whereupon, one who was martyred for his faith addresses them saying, in effect, get into your intuition. This young man explains, “Do not be alarmed….Jesus has been raised; he is not here….he goes ahead of you into Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you” (16: 6, 7).
The words “just as he told you,” are designed to appeal to the intuition of the women. The story has unfolded as predicted. Three times Jesus had said that he would be betrayed into human hands and be killed and after three days rise again (8:31; 9:31; 10:33, 34 and compare 14:28). The story makes sense. Use your intuition. Tell the disciples. And so we expect the ending: Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome will tell the disciples the Good News.
But, Mark the Gospel writer has one more exquisite twist. The climax has yet to occur. Unexpectedly, the women don’t tell the disciples. The last verse of the Gospel reads, “…for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to any one, for they were afraid” (16:8). To nullify this puzzling conclusion, scholars believe that some very early manuscripts added a verse to contradict the silence of the women: “…and all that had been commanded them they told briefly to those around Peter…” (16:9). But, of course, the ending is complete just as it had been written.
Mark’s gospel is perfectly designed to end the story by igniting our intuition. If the women didn’t tell the disciples, then who did? And, the answer becomes, “the reader.” Whether in the first century or the twenty-first century the climax comes when Easter Faith is born in the reader’s intuition.
Of course, the strategy for communicating God’s capacity for resurrection, for new creation – “there you will see him” – needs to be designed also for the seventy-five percent of the population who learn of the world about them through their five senses. The story of Jesus’ appearance to Thomas is for the benefit of the “sensory types” of this world. When told that Jesus had appeared to the disciples, Thomas says he won’t believe unless he sees with his eyes and touches with his hands. “Thomas the Doubter” isn’t so much a doubter as he is a trickster, for as a child he and his twin brother (John 20:24) had played lots of tricks on his parents.
How would they know which brother was which? Thomas wasn’t going to have his world turned upside down, or really right-side up, unless with his senses he could be convinced. The mercy that Jesus had for Thomas is the motivation for the sensory types of this world to come to Easter Faith. Eight days later, though the doors were shut, Jesus appears amongst the disciples and says to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see… reach out your hand and thrust … and be not faithless but believing” (20:27). Thomas then knew that Christ alive was no trick. He answers, “My Lord and my God” (20:28).
Easter Faith is understandable if we perceive that the Gospel is told in such a way that each of us has reason to draw the line between faith and doubt, between fullness and emptiness. I believe it is the work of God in us to enable our belief whether we are “intuitive types” or “sensory types.”
Sincerely, peace in believing,
Lyrics to "The Day of Resurrection" can be found in V.U number 164 or below the video.
Here are the lyrics:
1 The day of resurrection! Earth, tell it out abroad;
the passover of gladness, the passover of God!
From death to life eternal, from earth unto the sky,
our Christ has brought us over with hymns of victory.
2 Our hearts be free of evil, that we may see aright
the Christ in rays eternal of resurrection light,
and, listening to the accents, may hear so calm and plain
Christ's own 'All hail!' and, hearing, may raise the victor strain.
3 Now let the heavens be joyful, let earth its song begin,
the round world keep high triumph, and all that is therein;
let all things seen and unseen their notes of gladness blend,
for Christ indeed is risen, our Joy that has no end.