Resurrection Part 2-Questions and Answers
In this episode we continue our in-depth look at the Resurrection. Although I say “in-depth”, the reality is that we are really only presenting a very small portion of the whole topic. After all, as I say to you all the time, it is impossible for a finite mind to fully grasp the infinite. We certainly do our best. We constantly push the boundaries of our human intellectual abilities but, nonetheless, we will ultimately have to bypass “knowing” and simply embrace “believing”.
That notwithstanding, in this second part of the series we pick up where we left off last time. Here we are focusing on the importance of the witnesses. Have you ever wondered why Jesus didn’t just head on to heaven once He rose? A fairly sizable portion of the story of the Gospel is dedicated to telling us what Jesus did AFTER He died. It actually extends PAST the Gospels and into the Acts of the Apostles. Interestingly, there’s not a lot of details given on those appearances. There is a line or two on what He said but, by and large, it seems almost random…almost…anticlimactic. Before this there was that emotional scene in the Garden of Gethsemane, followed by the dramatic arrest, trial and sentencing. Then there was the horror of those dying moments on the cross. On the face of it, the appearances seem like merely a postscript of some sort. Now, I get why we’re told about the appearance to Mary Magdalene. It was a tender moment between a dedicated servant and her Risen Lord. I understand the appearances to Peter. The man was not only going to be important to the future church but He was also a dear friend of Jesus who was, no doubt, suffering from the shame of the night of the arrest. Our Merciful Lord wasn’t going to pass up the opportunity to comfort a nearly broken man. That’s just the kind of Person we serve. Those appearances make sense because they just demonstrate the personality of Jesus so well; but why those two on the road to Emmaus? We don’t even know who they were. Luke says one of them was named Cleopas but that’s all we know. (Luke 24:18). Mark doesn’t even give us that many details in his re-telling of the story (Mark 16:12). How about Paul’s reference to the appearance Jesus made “to 500 brethren at once”? (1st Corinthians 15:6) There we get no information; no names, no locations. The same can be said about the so-called Ascension. We are told by Luke in chapter 1 verse 6 of the Acts of the Apostles that “they” were come together but we can’t be certain who the “they” consisted of. We can be fairly confident that the remaining eleven apostles were there but was that all? The point is we aren’t told and, as you regulars know, when we aren’t told something in the Bible, it isn’t important. It can be plainly seen that in most of the post-Resurrection appearances that are recorded in Scripture, the “who” was not as important as the “why”. Jesus’ appearances have a purpose. That is what we discuss in this episode. So, take a moment to pray for understanding and then have a listen to part 2 of our Resurrection series. My prayer is that the Holy Spirit gives you an appreciation of the incredible love and mercy that God showed when He allowed us to get that ever-so-brief look at His most Precious Son.
Resurrection Part 1-Why Bother?
In the past, I have been accused (with an inference of derision) of being a Christian “apologist”. In case you don’t know, an apologist is defined by Webster’s as someone “who speaks or writes in defense of someone or something”. Well, I thought that’s what guys like me are supposed to do. In fact, isn’t that what we’re all supposed to do? Isn’t that what Peter meant when he said:
(1Pe 3:15) But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.
I don’t believe in arguing about the things of God. I normally don’t engage in debate about these sorts of things but I have and will continue to present the things of God in a way that will allow the listener or reader to make an informed decision. If you want to call that “defending” the Faith; that’s fine with me. I simply want to encourage a habit of critical thinking and I believe that’s God’s Way, as well. God is not afraid of our questions. He’s not afraid of our doubts. He knows our limitations because, frankly, He set them. He established the boundaries of our intellect, for some reason, and so He is aware of how much we can learn and it is obvious that He has a lot more confidence in our intelligence than most of our church leaders do.
All of that to say that, in this ministry, I won’t apologize for being…an apologist. I trust you and I trust the Spirit of Truth to do His job and guide you (and me) into all Truth (John 15:26). This lesson is the beginning of a series and this series is going to challenge you. We will be taking a detailed look at the most important event in human history: the Resurrection of Jesus. Why is that important? Well, that is the point of this first installment. It is here that we examine whether or not believing Jesus rose from the tomb is important. I mean, we talk a lot about the “Risen Christ” in church. At Easter time (I don’t like that word but that’s for another day) we plaster all over the place “He is Risen!” We see it on church billboards, in the pastor’s newsletter, we post it on Facebook and even occasionally (with ever-dwindling frequency) give each other greeting cards that tell us that the tomb was empty. But, do we really believe it? It’s pretty spectacular, when you think about it. A dead man is placed in a grave and He is not there 3 days later. And, listen, that does not mean He’s now a ghost…whatever that is. We don’t have trouble with the concept of someone’s spirit going…somewhere after they die. That is NOT what happened in this instance. His BODY rose. He had a body. What was once dead flesh got up and left that boulder-sealed cave. Can you believe that? By the way, that’s a legitimate question. I want to know. Can you believe that Jesus rose, BODILY, from the dead because if you can’t or you won’t then Paul says your faith is in vain. (1 Corinthians 15:17) Now, if you need more information to make a decision, I get that. That’s okay. That’s why this series is here. We want to make sure to give you as much information as possible so you CAN decide because decide you must and, if we fail at that, we hope that, at least, this series gives you a genuine desire to learn enough to make a decision. I am hoping you’ll see how important this is and that you take it upon yourself to seek out Truth…no matter the personal cost. This is NOT to be taken lightly. The Resurrection is the central, pivotal fact of human history. The Resurrection is the dividing line between the saved and the damned. Those that accept its Truth will live and those that don’t…won’t. So, I implore you with every ounce of my being to find a way to bring yourself to full acceptance of the Truth of the Resurrection. May I humbly suggest that you start by listening in to this series. If nothing else, it should give you a foundation upon which to build your continued pursuit of the most startling claim in human history. BUT before you do ANYTHING take this to God in prayer. Ask Him to guide you. Ask Him to show you Truth and, I believe, He will open up His Word to you in ways that may surprise you. If your heart is sincere and you truly want what He wants, God will answer your doubts and strengthen your Faith.