Living in the Shadow of the Resurrection – He is Risen! – 3 of 4
The Christian faith is rooted in the facts of history, and Luke, the gospel-writer, is widely considered to be a master historian. He was determined to set forth an accurate account of Jesus’ life and ministry (Luke 1:1-4). Of the four major world religions (Judaism, Buddhism, Islam, Christianity), only Christianity makes the historical claim that its founder is still alive. The central tenet of Christianity is belief in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Refute that claim, and Christianity crumbles.
Over the years many have sought to disprove the resurrection, and thus undermine the foundation of the Christian faith. One such person was the brilliant Stanford University scholar, Dr. Wilbur Smith. But as he poured over the historical evidence he came to a very unexpected conclusion. “Late one night, I turned out the lights in my study, and I got down on my face beside my desk and said, ‘Oh God, I believe it.'” Granted, it is not easy to believe that a man who has been dead for three days could be restored to life. Jesus’ own disciples were reluctant to accept what their own eyes beheld. But the evidence for his resurrection was so compelling that they too were forced to concede, “Oh God, I believe it!”
Put yourself in the place of the biblical characters. I imagine what it would have been like to arrive at the garden tomb in the misty morning hours, burdened with sorrow and loss, only to find the huge stone pushed aside and the tomb empty. How would you have reacted? Jesus had predicted his death and resurrection—but they didn’t get it (Luke 9:22; 18:31-34; 24:11-12). They flat out disbelieved it! Their theory was that someone, for some reason, had moved the body (John 20:11-18). For Mary, an empty tomb and an angelic report were insufficient evidence to believe in the resurrection. It wasn’t until she personally saw Jesus that she believed. Contrary to what some would have you believe, these people weren’t gullible. When it came to a report of resurrection, they were every bit as skeptical as we would be today. But the evidence was so overwhelming; they were forced to accept conclusions they never would have under normal circumstances (Luke 24:13-35).
The disciples’ problem was that they failed to believe the Scriptures. Theirs was not a problem of the intellect, but of the heart. It was spiritual in nature. That is why Jesus said they were “slow of heart to believe.” The evidence for Jesus’ resurrection was there: Jesus’ predictions, an empty tomb, angelic announcement, predictions of the prophets. But despite all of this evidence, these men foolishly refused to believe. The book of Proverbs in your Old Testament contrasts two types of people, the wise and the foolish. In Proverbs a “fool” is defined as someone who doesn’t allow the Scriptures to shape his or her thinking and behavior. Had these men believed their Scriptures, the empty tomb and the testimony of the women would have been all the proof they needed. No doubt, after Jesus’ tour through the Scriptures these two men were impressed with the evidence, but they remained unconvinced (Genesis 3:15; 22:1-14; Isaiah 53; Psalms 22 & 69). Over the next several days many others reported seeing Jesus alive. Consider this list of witnesses offered by the Apostle Paul (1 Corinthians 15:3-8).
Christians have a firm foundation for our faith. And Jesus said: “I am the way and the truth and life; no one comes to the Father, but through me.” (John 14:6). “There is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12).
Have you received the forgiveness Jesus purchased for you at the cross? Have you come to know him as your living Savior? If not, I invite you to receive his forgiveness. You can begin that new life by personally placing your trust in Jesus Christ as your sin bearer.
APPLICATION / CHALLENGE
Receive the forgiveness Jesus purchased for you at the cross! You can begin that new life by personally placing your trust in Jesus Christ as your sin bearer.
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TAKE ONE STEP
Each week, write down one doable concrete step of obedience, small or large that you will put into practice this week. (James 1:22: “But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.”)