1 Corinthians chapter 15 is probably the most definitive Scriptural evidences of the Resurrection. I was wondering how much of my faith and life has been influenced by one simple text everyone is familiar with, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son…” – and I believe that with all my heart. Here’s a wonderful text about the character of God, the need of man, God’s provision in Christ, and the hope for “whosoever will”. What a marvelous text! I do believe that the disciples although they were still very Jewish; although they still had Jewish expectations believed in Jesus; they are willing to leave everything they had and follow him; but even though they believed, even though they saw the miraculous deeds that He did – from raising the dead, and healing lepers, and just the panoply of Jesus’s miraculous gifts to show the heart of God, even being there at every one of His teaching sessions, they just didn’t understand it! I am amazed by the fact even in the midst of these evidences of supernatural wonders, they just didn’t believe it! That proves to me that it’s not just evidence that the world needs to hear. I’m not sure what small percentage of people are convinced about the reality of the Christian faith based on evidence. What I think happens is that God gives each one of us an opportunity to have a personal encounter with Him. When suddenly things that were fuzzy become clear, and things that were untrue become real. We attend church every Sunday, pay our tithes and offerings, and we may have all the accoutrements of religiosity, but until you’ve had a personal life-changing encounter with Jesus you will never get it. You will never understand it!
I think there’s some analogous relationships between the disciples loving Him, worshiping Him, and trusting Him but what surprises me, I guess when I look at the resurrection passages and there are numerous ones, you say to yourself, how could the disciples have the lower doors locked, and the upper doors locked, and even when the women told them, “He is risen”, they went and shrugged their shoulders and said, “C’mon get over it”. They were totally surprised by the resurrection. I mean it’s not like Jesus hadn’t told them about five times, “I’m going to Jerusalem and I’m going to suffer and die. I’m going to rise frrom the grave on the third day. I’ll meet you at a mountain in Galilee…”, and all they were concerned about was, who’s the greatest among themselves; who’s going to sit on Christ’s right hand and left. The Jewish leaders, and the Sanhedrin knew better; they believed He said He’s going to come out of the grave, so they locked the tomb, and put a guard on the tomb. And here all the 12 disciples were thinking about was, “what are we going to eat tonight?” What has happened to these men? (I think it’s what happens to us today) They’d been around Jesus, they’d seen some wonderful things, and somehow it all became common. And now He’s dead, every promise He made, they forgot, and they just went back to their normal life. Peter went back to fishing, and they just went back and said “Well, it’s over now, it’s just everyone to himself now”.
Didn’t they have Scriptural evidences for the promise of a Resurrection and a New Day? Weren’t there Scriptural prophetic indicators pointing to what Jesus said about, “I’m going to die and come out of the grave”? That’s nothing new as a matter of fact. He alludes to that several times – “…It asks for a sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah (cf. Luke 11:29-30)”. “As Jonah was inside the fish for 3 days…”(cf. Matt. 12:40). That’s kind of an, oblique sign but there’s some other more powerful ones. And the Old Testament is practically pregnant with passages pointing to the reality of that central pillar of the Christian faith – Job 14:14; 19:25; Psalm 16:10 Messianic); Psalm 49:15; 86:13. The major prophets provide not only evidence for the promise of resurrection or life after death, but a promise of a New Age coming with intimacy with God – Isaiah 25:6-8 is a text that begins to include the nations that the world is in the heart of God (cf. John 3:16), there is allusion here to God removing the veil from the Gentiles; the Lord of hosts will prepare a lavish banquet for all the peoples on this mountain, a banquet of aged wine. Psalm 26:19 again is another reference to Resurrection; Ezekiel 37, (remember the valley of dry bones?) certainly is a corporate resurrection of Israel but it is likewise a passage that speaks about life from death on a corporate scale of all the nations. Daniel 12:2 – “Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt”.
The evidences of Resurrection are overwhelming, yet every time Jesus said to His disciples “I’m going to Jerusalem to die…and I’m going to rise in 3 days”, they went “oh, that’s really nice”, they just didn’t understand (cf. Mark 8:31; 9:30-31; 10:33-34). These 12 disciples (one of them is the devil) have left family and friends; Jesus empowered them to go out and cast out demons, and heal sicknesses. These men had experienced His power, seen His power, and somehow like Paul on the road to Damascus, there was some kind of blindness involved (remember when Paul is healed in Acts 9, it said like flakes fell from his eyes). There were blinders on these believing disciples – these men who were in the inner circle of Jesus. These were believers. These were men who should have known. These guys had the best knowledge about who is Jesus. They had seen it, they had heard it, they had been interpreted to privately, and they’re still expecting a Jewish Kingdom. And they still want to be number one and number two. It sounds to me like health, wealth and prosperity of an ancient variety. These disciples did not understand at first, but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things were written of Him, and that they had done these things to Him.
There is really so much more of Christianity than the peripheral Christianity so characteristic of our culture, and it’s not that you deny that people have trusted Him. It’s not that you deny that people worship Him. It’s not that you deny that they’ve had an encounter with Him all right. But when they’ve had an encounter and they continue to live their own lives for their own interest; spending all of their money on themselves, all of their time on what they want to do, and kind of throw in Jesus the what’s left over of their lives, you just want to scream “Don’t you understand?” “Don’t you get it”, and alas, i’m afraid that the church doesn’t understand it hitherto. I believe what modern-day Christians have is a peripheral experience of religiosity instead of an intimate, dynamic, 24/7 life-altering, life-changing experience of the resurrected Christ. The Lord is risen, and things can never be the same again! It’s no longer all about me. Nothing i have belongs to me. It’s all about Him! God help us take the flakes off of our spiritual eyes. Amen!