Resurrection Disbelief

Our celebration of Easter has already come and gone. I hope that for you it was a time of strengthening your faith in God and renewing your hope in the resurrection. For many, it may have been a time to enjoy a family gathering and a nice meal, and maybe watching the children hunt for Easter eggs. For those who may have had someone close to them die, Easter can also be a time when we’re reminded of the hope we have in Christ of seeing our loved one again in Heaven, or when Jesus returns. 

Some may ask how one can know that Jesus really rose again from the dead? Skeptics, of course, doubt it. Yet, there are many Bible scholars who believe that the resurrection of Jesus is one of the most attested facts of history! Secular theories of what may have happened abound. A popular one alleges that Christ’s body was stolen, either by the Jewish leaders, the Romans, or even the disciples themselves. Another theory is that Jesus didn’t really die, but just fainted, and later revived in the coolness of the tomb. Some say that the disciples didn’t really see the resurrected Jesus, but only saw an apparition.

There are answers for all those objections, but for me, one of the most convincing arguments for Jesus’ resurrection is that the disciples and followers of Jesus actually had a hard time believing he rose from the dead. Even though Jesus clearly told them several times what was going to happen. They just didn’t understand. They didn’t get it. And after it took place, they would have to be convinced that it really happened, just as Jesus said it would.

Here’s what Luke 18:31-34 says: “Jesus took the twelve aside and said, ‘We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death, and will hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day he will be raised to life! The disciples did not understand any of this, and they did not know what he was talking about.’”

On Easter Sunday morning Mary Magdalene and some of the other women went to the tomb to anoint Jesus’ dead body. When they found the tomb empty, two angels appeared to tell them he had risen. The women ran to tell the disciples what they had found, but the disciples had trouble believing them. “They did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense. Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened,” Luke 24:31-32.

Then, of course, there was “doubting Thomas.” He had missed the appearance Jesus made to the other disciples. He said, “Unless I see the nail prints in Jesus’ hands and put my finger where the nails were and put my hand into his side, I will not believe,” (John 20:25-28). When Jesus invited him to do exactly that, a week later, Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God.”

May that be our response, too, as we consider the evidence for the resurrection. And may you also be filled with the joy, peace and hope that our living Savior gives us.

Jim Newman is pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in Exeter. He may be reached by calling 559-592-2367 or by emailing [email protected]. Prays Together is a rotating faith-based commentary and advice column among the pastors, and guest laypeople, of the First Presbyterian Church of Exeter, Church of Christ of Exeter, Nazarene Church of Exeter, Church of God of Exeter, the New Life Assembly of God and Rocky Hill Community Church and Lemon Cove Community Church. 

This column is not a news article but the opinion of the writer and does not reflect the views of The Sun-Gazette newspaper.

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