Those who doubt the resurrection of Jesus have their reasons.
First, you have to admit even those closest to the Lord, the very ones who heard Him candidly foretell His death and resurrection, doubted even after seeing angels! The angels asked the first to arrive at the tomb, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here. He is risen. Don’t you remember what He told you?” Luke says, “Then they remembered the words of Jesus and ran to tell the disciples the good news.” On hearing their story, Peter and John also hurried to the tomb and found it empty with Jesus’ burial linens lying where his body had been. It says, “John saw it and believed.” Meanwhile, Mary Magdalene, who first told Peter and John of the empty tomb, returned alone and was the first to actually see the risen Jesus. Jesus told her to go back and tell the disciples. But despite the angels, despite John’s conviction, despite Mary’s validation, the gospels tell us, “Their words seemed like nonsense to the disciples and they would not believe.” Wow.
Secondly, it is simply unreasonable to believe in the resurrection. Even today, despite all medical advancements, no one can restore life once it’s been lost for more than a few moments. We are educated people. We don’t believe in zombies. We know bloodletting does not cure a sick person. We don’t expect a pocket full of daisies to protect children from the plague. We no longer believe childless couples are cursed by God. We know ground up rhinoceros horns don’t increase our virility, and that cats don’t always land on their feet. We are educated people. Only fools and children believe those things.
There has also been a great deal of misinformation in books and movies about the Bible. It’s hard to know fact from fiction. The movie Ben Hur won eleven Academy Awards including best picture, but Judah Ben Hur is a fictional character invented in the mind of an author. He never escaped from a slave ship, never won a chariot race, nor offered a cup of water to Jesus when carrying His cross, and never witnessed his mother and sister being healed of their leprosy in the storm following the crucifixion. Yet many accept Ben Hur as fact. Jesus never rose from the dead in Ben Hur. He just died. Another movie, The DaVinci Code, “convinced” an already skeptical audience that the Roman Catholic Church has covertly suppressed the “fact” that Jesus fathered a child through Mary Magdalene! It’s not true, but many choose to believe the Christian Church is hiding the facts from us in one form or another.
Despite all the doubt, Jesus’ resurrection is a verifiable fact that can be proved. A passage in the book or Acts says that after the conversion of Saul (who became the apostle Paul), “Saul kept increasing in strength and confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus was the Christ.” (Acts 2:22) Paul was able to prove Jesus was the Messiah to the greatest skeptics of his day. By appealing to their understanding of Old Testament prophecies, Paul could show that everything Jesus experienced had been foretold, from His birth to His death and even the resurrection. There are other factual reasons to believe the resurrection of Jesus. No one ever found His body, even though challenged by Peter to produce it. The apostles were not courageous people. After the crucifixion, they went into hiding for fear of the Jews. But something changed. All of them, except John, died tragic and painful deaths rather than deny faith in Jesus as the true Messiah. No scholar denies the existence of Jesus. His life, including His popularity and crucifixion, even speculation about His resurrection, is validated in secular Roman history.
Despite the provable nature of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection, no one has ever been “argued” into the faith. The saying is trite but true, “Anyone convinced against their will, remains unconvinced.” Faith is not established in one’s heart by proving anything. To the contrary, the Bible defines faith as; “The assurance of things hoped for and conviction about things unseen.” (Hebrews 11:1) Faith is the work of God’s spirit on our heart. Everyone (whether they admit it or not) is spiritual (80% of all Americans believe in God). People are the result of God’s creation; who brought about their conception and every person (even those in denial) instinctively feel it. As Paul said in his letter to the Corinthians,
“What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived” - the things God has prepared for those who love him - these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit. …This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words. The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.” (1 Corinthians 2)
While the truth about Jesus can be proven, people believe in Him through the Spirit’s appeal to their heart, not their mind. Christians live lives of faith in a “nonbelieving world,” trusting that the truth of Christ has an appeal that rings true in the heart of others by the power of God’s spirit.
As Paul also said, “My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.”
Will you accept the Lord’s invitation? He invites all who are weary and burdened to come to Him saying, “I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
It takes two to argue. I’m convinced about the life, death and resurrection of Jesus but I have no need to argue the facts with you. It wouldn’t convince you anyway. Happy Easter!
“If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied. But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.” 1 Corinthians 15
- Is it possible to be a Christian, accept the truth of Jesus’ life and death but deny the resurrection?
- What does Paul mean when he calls Jesus, “the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep?”
- Do you believe in the resurrection? Why or why not?
How often have you attended an Easter celebration of Jesus’ resurrection in the past five years?
A. I never miss it.
B. No more than a couple of times.
C. I believe in Jesus but can’t accept the resurrection.
Click here to take the survey and take a moment to leave a thought or opinion.
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Gracious Lord, thank You for the great gift of eternal life so dearly won upon the cross. You suffered and died in my place. You broke the back of sin, death and the power of the devil on Easter morning. Help me to be more patient with those who doubt. Enable me to confidently share my faith without arguing. Give me greater trust in the power of your Holy Spirit to work faith in the hearts of those who question Your truth. Lord, even though I accept the truth of Your resurrection, there are times in my life when I’m confused by what you do or don’t do on earth. I believe. Help me with my doubts. In Jesus’ name; Amen.
Friday Frenzie is tomorrow night, April 25, from 7:00pm-8:30pm. Fifth graders, this is your last one before you move up to Youth Ministry. Don’t miss it.
Mission Impossible for all current 6th-8th grade students. Friday, April 25, 7:00pm-9:00pm. Buebird Park Amphitheater. Free event. Bring your friends for a fun night of stealth and strategy!
Blood Drive this Sunday, April 27, from 8:00am-12noon, The Commons. Walk-ins are welcome.
Stephen Hower, Pastor
Challenging the status quo to awaken an appreciation for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Phil. 3:13,14
(and to lower my golf score)
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