Tag Archives: Resurrection

Appearing to the Doubter

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He is famous for his absence; his lack of presence is what left his watermark in history. We don’t know why he was absent. He may have been too fearful to leave his home, or he may have been so discouraged by current events and the political climate that he just stayed away. We don’t know why he wasn’t there, but many are glad he stayed away. Many are glad this man was absent on the evening of Jesus’ appearance.

Their gladness does not come because he missed Jesus. Their gladness comes in knowing when he heard about Jesus’ appearance, he had his doubts about a resurrected Savior. John 20 says, “One of the twelve disciples, Thomas (nicknamed the Twin), was not with the others when Jesus came. They told him, “We have seen the Lord!”

But he replied, “I won’t believe it unless I see the nail wounds in his hands, put my fingers into them, and place my hand into the wound in his side.”

The disciples kept telling Thomas they had seen the risen Lord, but Thomas can’t wrap his mind around it. We don’t know why he doubted; a few weeks earlier he was ready to lead the disciples as Jesus went to raise Lazarus from the grave. In that moment his courage and boldness for the Lord shined brightly, but here, Thomas has some unanswered questions and doubts. This may sound familiar to you.

In fact, it might describe you. Your courage and boldness for the Lord may have shined brightly in the past, but now, you have a few questions and some doubts. So, your glad Thomas was absent. His absence helps us understand how the Lord will respond to our questions and our doubts.

Jesus does not leave Thomas hanging in the balance filled with doubt. Notice what happens starting in John 20:26, “Eight days later the disciples were together again, and this time Thomas was with them. The doors were locked; but suddenly, as before, Jesus was standing among them. “Peace be with you,” he said. Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and look at my hands. Put your hand into the wound in my side. Don’t be faithless any longer. Believe!” It’s as if Jesus was there when Thomas expressed his doubts to the other disciples, and comes saying, “Hey Thomas, here I am. Here’s my hands. Here’s my feet. Let me put your hand in my side.” Jesus does not leave Thomas sitting in his doubts. He comes offering an invitation of help.

Jesus comes offering us the same invitation of assistance. He does not leave us hanging in the balance filled with doubts. Jesus offers us the opportunity to look back at how he has helped us in the past. He offers us the historical evidence of an empty tomb. We can visit the tomb and find that it is empty.

Because of an empty tomb, you and I do not have to smother in moments of doubt. Jesus helps us renew our hope and our certainty through his resurrection. Doubts may come, but they will not cause Jesus to run. He responds to us with an invitation of help just like he gave Thomas. Jesus will not leave us alone in our doubts.

Peace in Uncertain Times

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They were afraid. The last hours and days have been anything but restful. Some in the group narrowly escaped fighting and arrest a few nights ago as an angry mob arrested their leader Jesus. They watched as the mob had him tortured and executed. They know his tomb is empty, but they are unsure of how or why. Thoughts of peace are replaced with a constant wondering about the next happening and how to get away from those who are against them. They do not know who is the next to be arrested or even worse, so they are gathered behind locked doors in a secret location plotting a path forward.

The disciples are consumed by fear and anxiety, but Jesus does not leave them alone. John 20:19 says, “On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!”

As the disciples are sitting in an anxious and fear-filled room, Jesus shows up to bring peace. The peace Jesus brings to the disciples is for the past, present, and future. They are surrounded by uncertainty, yet Jesus says they can have peace. And, the peace Jesus brings on this night is the same peace he offers to us.

We live in uncertain times. Some folks struggle with letting go of past mistakes, while others are fearful of the future. To all though, Jesus says, “Peace be with you.”

Jesus offers peace with God. Through his work on the cross, Jesus bridged the gulf between man and God.  Scripture helps us understand.

  • “Now all of us can come to the Father through the same Holy Spirit because of what Christ has done for us,” points out Paul in Ephesians 2:18.
  • He writes in Romans 5:1, “Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us.”
  • And Romans 8:1 proclaims, “So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.”

Because of Christ, we can have peace with God. Yesterday’s mistakes are forgiven and forgotten, so we don’t need to feel guilty any longer. Just look at what he did for Peter.

Peter boldly stated he would never deny Jesus; he would follow him to the very end, but when pressure mounted, Peter crumbled. He denied Jesus not once but three times, and after the third time, Mark says, “Suddenly, Jesus’ words flashed through Peter’s mind: “Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny three times that you even know me.” And he broke down and wept.” Peter knew he made a mistake. The Lord also knew Peter made a mistake, yet Jesus brought Peter peace. He was present when Jesus appeared to the disciples, and the Gospel writers tell us Jesus appeared to Peter earlier in the day, restoring their relationship. Peter did not have the power to make peace with God, so Jesus did it for him.

To spite his failures and all that Peter had done wrong, Jesus brings him peace with God. Can you imagine the relief Peter must have felt?

What about you? You know you’ve made mistakes; perhaps you remind yourself of it daily. The Lord also knows you’ve made mistakes, yet Jesus comes bearing the greeting, “Peace be with you.” You and I did not have the power to make peace with God, so Jesus did it for us. To spite the failures and mistakes of the past, Jesus gives us peace with God, and he freely gives it to us. In John 14:27, Jesus says, “I am leaving you a gift,” and that gift is peace with God.

It is in knowing the Lord is walking with us that we find peace for the future. Again, Scripture helps us understand.

  • “Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus,” writes Paul in Philippians 4:7.
  • Notice again Jesus’ words in John 14:27, “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.”

Because of an empty tomb, you and I can have peace even if it is a turbulent time. The world may be swirling around us, but no matter what happens, the victory is ours through Christ. Remember the promise of Romans 8:37, “No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.” Jesus isn’t leaving us alone to struggle. He is coming along side us and saying, “Peace be with you!”

Appearing Amid Life’s Shattered Pieces

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It was about a seven-mile journey from Jerusalem to Emmaus. A journey of this length gives you some time to talk, so the two disciples were discussing, and maybe at times debating, the events of the past few days. They had been in Jerusalem following Jesus, and a lot had taken place. A week earlier these disciples were filled with joy and great anticipation as Jesus entered Jerusalem, but those feelings quickly faded as the week unfolded. Today, these two men are down-and-out, and they are not sure what to make of everything that has happened.

“As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him,” says Luke 24. “He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?”

They stood still; their faces downcast. One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” “What things?” he asked.

“About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel.” 

Notice they hoped, which is past tense. They have given up at this point. Their desire was to be free from the Roman government, and they thought Jesus was going to be the one who overthrew the Romans. They had longed for this day, but it didn’t happen the way the disciples had it pictured. And confusion was added to their disappointment this morning, they found out Jesus’ body is missing from the tomb.

Continuing their conversation with Jesus, they said,

“And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they did not see Jesus.” Not sure what to make of things, the two disciples decide to return to Emmaus.

I can relate to these guys, and perhaps you can as well. We have an idea of what life is going to look like; the picture we have in our mind is exactly what we desire, and it seems everything is moving in that direction. But suddenly, it changes. Suddenly, it shatters. It shattered by a phone call from a doctor saying we have cancer. It is tattered after months of financial struggle has left us nearly bankrupt. It is violently torn by a devastating heartbreak.  Our hope for life to unfold as it is pictured in our mind is gone. The picture seems to be only a distant memory. Like the disciples on the road to Emmaus, we simply don’t know what to make of things, and we are perplexed by life’s shattered pieces lying around us.

It is in moments like this we can be grateful for what Jesus showed the disciples. As they traveled, he helped them understand the promises of the Lord are trustworthy.

Jesus says in Luke 24, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself. As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going farther. But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So, he went in to stay with them.

When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”

Suddenly, these two guys connect the dots and realize every word of Scripture is true. It turned out their picture of life was not a reality, but there was something even better happening. There was something even better coming. They realized they could fully hope in the promises of the Lord. His promises are trustworthy.

Because of an empty tomb, you and I know we can fully hope in the promises of the Lord. Psalm 145:13 says, “The Lord is trustworthy in all he promises and faithful in all he does.”

Our mind’s picture of life may have been shattered, but we have hope of something better coming. “Trust in God; trust also in me,” Jesus encourages. We can fully hope in the trustworthy promise of something better coming. We have the faithful promise of eternal life in Heaven.

As for the disciples traveling to Emmaus, Luke says they returned to Jerusalem the same day. This means they walked 14 miles in one day, and I’ve often wondered if they had to buy a new pair of sandals the next day.

Appearing to the Brokenhearted

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The events of the past few days have certainly been difficult. Watching someone you are close to suffer the excruciating horror of crucifixion is enough to make even the hardest person’s emotions raw. For those close to Jesus, the grieving process had to pause a bit because of the Sabbath, but now that it is over, it is time to pick up where they left off earlier: visiting the tomb to ensure a proper burial. The Gospel writers tell us Jesus’ friends headed to the cemetery as soon as the sun was rising and the Sabbath was ending. Heartbroken, they didn’t want to waste any time.

John’s Gospel specifically tells us Mary Magdalene was the first to go and realize the tomb was empty. Mary thinks she’s going to ensure a proper burial, but she finds an empty tomb and neatly folded linens with no Jesus. What happens next shows us the compassion the Lord has for the broken-hearted.

John 20 records, “Mary was standing outside the tomb crying, and as she wept, she stooped and looked in. She saw two white-robed angels, one sitting at the head and the other at the foot of the place where the body of Jesus had been lying. “Dear woman, why are you crying?” the angels asked her.

“Because they have taken away my Lord,” she replied, “and I don’t know where they have put him.”

Mary is seeing something here that looks an awful lot like the Ark of the Covenant. Prior to now, the Ark of the Covenant, which represents the Lord’s presence, was only accessible in the Holy of Holies, and only one day a year by one person – the High Priest. But not now! The presence of the Lord is accessible to this heart broken woman.

She is not the High Priest nor is she in the Holy of Holies. She is a common person standing in a garden, outside an empty tomb, in tears because she doesn’t know what is happening. The person she cared about so deeply was ripped from her life, he was tortured to death, and now she can’t even make sure he has a decent burial because he is missing. Heartache is stacked on top of her heartbreak. Can you understand how she feels?

We are certainly not strangers to this pain. Heartache comes to us in any number of ways. The person we thought we were going to marry walked away from us. The child who should have outlived us didn’t. The husband who pledged his faithfulness was anything but faithful. The spouse of 50 years was ripped from our arms by death. The pain of a broken heart is not a foreign experience.

Maybe you’re thinking to yourself, “Yeah, I know how she feels. It is exactly how I feel today.” If so, please remember, you are not alone in this moment.

Mary’s story shows us we are not left to drown in the tears of our heartache. As she is standing there crying, Mary is not alone. John 20 continues, “She turned to leave and saw someone standing there. It was Jesus, but she didn’t recognize him. ” Dear woman, why are you crying?” Jesus asked her. “Who are you looking for?”

She thought he was the gardener. “Sir,” she said, “if you have taken him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will go and get him.” “Mary!” Jesus said.

She turned to him and cried out, “Rabboni!” (which is Hebrew for “Teacher”).”

Jesus does not leave Mary standing in the garden with tears running down her face. The tomb is empty, and Jesus is right beside Mary amid her heartbreak. He brings compassion and grace. He brings encouragement and comfort. Jesus brings himself to the heartbroken Mary, and he brings himself to those who are heartbroken today.

Psalm 34:18 says, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.”

When our hearts are broken, we can look to an empty tomb and find a Savior who comes to the heartbroken. Just like he was with Mary amid her heartbreak, he is with us amid our heartbreak. The same accessibility and compassion are present. Jesus does not flee from the heartbroken; he comes to us. Jesus is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those with a crushed spirit.

Because of an empty tomb, you and I do not have to be alone in our pain. We can allow the Lord to come close and rescue our crushed spirit.

down, but not out

The tomb was sealed. The Roman government sealed the tomb and placed guards outside to ensure no one messed with it. His opponents believed they had gained the victory. He was in the tomb, it was sealed, guards were posted, and it didn’t seem a dead man would want to get out anyway. They didn’t have the victory though, he did!

The Bible teaches Jesus rose from the tomb. The tomb couldn’t hold him as he is more powerful than death’s grip. He may allowed death to hold him down for a moment, but he certainly wasn’t out.

Jesus says in John 16:33, 33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Life may push you and me down at times. The checking account balance may have us pushed down, but Jesus says we are not out. The lack of employment may have us pushed down, but Jesus says we are not out. The medical issues we’re facing may have us down, but we are not out. With Jesus, we may be down, but we are not out.

Jesus says we will have trouble, but we can have courage because he has overcome this world’s trouble. We may get knocked down for a moment or two, but we are not out. The next time life pushes you down, remember, you can have courage because Jesus has overcome.

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resurrection and life

Jesus was close to Lazarus and his sisters. Lazarus was ill, so the family sent word to Jesus requesting he come and help Lazarus. Jesus does go and help Lazarus, but the Bible teaches he waited before going.

We know Jesus waited until Lazarus had been in the tomb for four days before helping. At this point, all hope had been lost. No one believed there was a chance Lazarus could be brought out of the tomb. However, the Bible records that is not the case.

John 11:23-25 says, 23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”

24 Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”

25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

Jesus is getting ready to display his power over death. Life and death battled, and life won. Death’s grip could not hold Lazarus in the grave because of Jesus.

Because of Jesus, death’s grip cannot hold us in bondage. Jesus says he is the resurrection and the life. Ephesians 2 says it is in Christ we are made alive by grace. Jesus question to Martha is the same one he asks us, “Do you believe?”

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Can we find hope in Christ’s resurrection?

Yes, because of its validity, value, and victory.

Hope can be found in Christ’s resurrection.

The Validity of the Resurrection

With courtroom-like precision, Paul builds the case for Christ’s resurrection. The eyewitness accounts are overwhelming.

1 Corinthians 15:5-8 states, “He was seen by Peter and then by the Twelve. After that, he was seen by more than 500 of his followers at one time. Most of whom are still alive, though some have died. Then he was seen by James and later, by all the apostles. Last of all, I also saw him.”

It is easy to dismiss one person’s testimony, and perhaps the 12 disciples could be written off as hallucinating. But it is not as easy to discount 500 people seeing the same event at the same time. Jesus appeared to all these individuals after his resurrection.

He ate with them. He talked with them. He walked with them. They could see and touch his physical body. He was there. Those who saw Jesus could factually say he was no longer in the tomb.

The resurrection was not a myth. It was a historical event which brought value and victory.

The Value of the Resurrection

1 Corinthians 15 goes on to explain there is much value in the resurrection.

  • Our dying bodies are buried, and a body, which will live forever, is raised up.
  • Our broken bodies will be exchanged for glorious bodies.
  • Our weak bodies will be replaced with strong bodies.
  • Verse 44 says, “They are buried as natural human bodies, but they will be raised as spiritual bodies. For just as there are natural bodies, there are also spiritual bodies.”

In other words, we will shed all the struggle and heartache in this life. Our physical and mental difficulties will no longer plague us. The value of the resurrection is a new body granted through Christ’s victory.

The Victory of the Resurrection

“Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die, this Scripture will be fulfilled, ‘death is swallowed up in victory.’ ‘O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?’ For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. But, thank God, he gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ,” says 1 Corinthians 15:54-57.

Death, which is man’s great equalizer, has been beaten by Christ. The day of Christ’s resurrection, he struck a death blow to death and brought victory.

As we search for hope in this life, we can find it in the validity, value, and victory of Christ’s resurrection.

 

The Days After the Resurrection

Jesus gives a starting point for sharing hope.

The time from Jesus’ resurrection to his ascension was eventful for his disciples. He appeared to them numerous times, and they never knew when or where he would show up. They needed to be ready to learn from Jesus at any time.

John 21 records Jesus appearing to some of his disciples as they were fishing. It was the early morning hours, and the men had been fishing all night. They caught nothing though until Jesus guided them. While the disciples were about 100 yards from shore, Jesus appeared on the shore. He suggested throwing the net on the right side of the boat. They did, and it was filled with fish.

They came ashore, and Jesus was waiting with a hot breakfast. Jesus needed to have a conversation with the disciples concerning the future, but first, he wanted to make sure their needs were met. If they were struggling and hungry, they would not be focused on what Jesus had to say.

The Bible encourages Christians to share our hope, and I believe we find a starting point in this post-resurrection appearance.

We need to help a person meet his or her physical needs before we can have an open door to discuss spiritual matters.

If a person is struggling and hungry today, he or she is not concerned about tomorrow. A starting point for sharing hope is helping meet physical needs.

  • It may be helping the person look for work.
  • It may be helping the individual identify ways to advance his or her skills to improve financial stability.
  • It may be helping a person navigate resources to find help.
  • Mostly, it is investing in the person’s life to earn the right to share our hope.

People are more content to discuss tomorrow when today’s needs are met.

 

 

The Evening After the Resurrection

Jesus offers encouragement in two ways.

The doors were locked. The day had been eventful. The disciples learned of an empty tomb early in the morning, and two of them just returned from Emmaus saying the Lord had appeared to them. Though the sun was setting, the excitement continued.

As the two disciples from Emmaus were speaking, Jesus appeared in the room even though the doors were locked. At first, this startled Jesus’ followers, then they became overjoyed when they realized it was truly Jesus. Jesus spent some time with them, and he encouraged the disciples in two ways.

Encouragement to help with their doubts.

The Gospel writers recall the disciples still had doubts in their minds. Jesus understood their doubts, so he offered an opportunity to touch his hands and feet. He also ate in front of them. A ghost or figment of their imagination would not have hands, feet, or the ability to eat, so it really had to be Jesus. He encouraged the disciples through their doubts.

One of the ways Jesus encourages people with doubts today is giving them an opportunity to see his hands and feet, the church, in action. The church should help one another as well as the community. The church is a picture of Jesus and gives us an opportunity to see him in action.

I wish I could say this was a perfect picture; however, the picture is not always perfect. I can say I believe the world is a better place because of the lives of genuine Christ followers. Their love and work shined in the world around them.

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Encouragement to share their hope.

Jesus helped the disciples with their doubts, then he sent them to share their hope.

John 20:21 says, “Again Jesus said, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.”

Jesus never intended for the disciples to keep his resurrection a secret. The Lord does not intend for Christians to keep our hope a secret. He desires for us to share it with those around us.

In many ways, these pieces of encouragement are connected. The person with doubts sees the Christian community sharing hope. Our sharing of hope allows the Lord’s love to shine brightly. What ways have you found to share your hope?

 

The Hours After the Resurrection

Seven miles of pondering.

The empty tomb was just the start of Easter day for the disciples. Several women, including Mary Magdalene, returned to the disciples with the exciting news, and the disciples started piecing the events together; however, there was still much doubt in their minds concerning the women’s news.

Two of the disciples decided to travel to Emmaus. They were joined on the 7-mile journey by Jesus, but they did not recognize him. As they walked, they talked.

The conversation turned to current events: Jesus’ crucifixion and the tomb being empty. Jesus used the Scripture to help the disciples overcome their doubt and see the truth. They were wondering if everything was true, but as they studied the Scriptures, they pieced everything together and understood.

Luke tells us after Jesus left the two disciples, they returned to Jerusalem. This means they walked 14 miles in one day, so they certainly got a workout. The account also gives us an idea to help overcome doubts.

Ponder the Bible.

If you are struggling with doubts, try studying the Scripture. For the disciples, it helped clear up confusion and settle some doubts. It may do the same for you.

C. S. Lewis, a well-known author, was an Atheist in his early 20s only to convert to Christianity after pondering the Bible. His intellect determined the claims of Scripture were sensible, and the explanation of life given in the Bible made sense. Lewis commented in Mere Christianity, Jesus had to be telling the truth. Otherwise, he would have been a lunatic, and there was no other evidence of Jesus not being sane. Lewis’ study of the Bible is what helped him conquer doubt and embrace Christianity.

God understands you and I may experience doubts, so he provides the Bible to ponder. Challenge your doubts with the claims of Scripture.

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