So we’re continuing in the presentation of some evidence of the Resurrection of Christ. Today I’d like—just for a little bit—to get into the heads of the followers of Jesus right after Easter Sunday.
Critics and skeptics have all come up with their best theories about what really happened after the Passion. The one thing they hold on to with all their grip, their sine qua non, is that Jesus did not rise again from the dead. If he did, then they need to reexamine their disbelief in his claims. If he really did rise again, then he’s more than just some teacher or good man whom they can ignore at will. So therefore they have to come up with an alternate explanation.
And of course the most common one is that the disciples made it all up. They snuck up to the tomb, overpowered the Roman guards, moved the stone out of the way, and stole the body. They then claimed that Jesus rose from the dead.
Does that make sense? Well, yesterday we examined one piece of counterevidence to that: According to this theory, the church leaders, for some reason, picked women as the first witnesses of the Resurrection, who were looked down upon as second-class citizens and who couldn’t testify in court. Interestingly, they particularly picked a woman who at one time had been possessed by seven demons.
Does this theory jibe with the disciples’ attitude that’s described in Scripture? As we discussed last year, one of the reasons why I believe in the authority of the Bible is because of the less-than-flattering portraits it draws of its “heroes.” Abraham, Moses, David (the top three names in the Old Testament) are all there with their flaws painstakingly presented. My favorite line from Homer Simpson: He picks up a Bible and says “I hate this book! Everybody’s a sinner in here! Except for this guy.”
And it’s certainly the same with the disciples. These are the pillars of the church, its main representatives to the world. If you were making up stories about them, wouldn’t you show them with more faith in their Lord? The Gospel according to Keith would have the disciples waiting for their Savior at the tomb, eagerly anticipating his return.
Guys, this shouldn't have come at a great shock to them. It’s not as if he hadn’t predicted this multiple times. In fact, it was pretty rare for Jesus to predict his death and not predict his resurrection in the next breath. He specifically told them that he was going to be betrayed by one of the twelve (came to pass), that he'd be rejected by the Jewish people (came to pass), that he'd be handed over to the Gentiles (came to pass), that the eleven would desert him (came to pass), that Peter would deny he knew him (came to pass), and that he'd be crucified (you get the idea). Each one of these predictions came true—to the letter—but what’s this about a resurrection? Whoa, we never saw that coming! He told them all about this, and it’s like he was Charlie Brown’s teacher from the TV specials.
But that’s the picture of the disciples that the Gospels draw for us. The attitude of Cleopas and his companion was very typical of the rest of them. The death of Jesus crushed them. These are not people who expected this at all.
So how can we apply this today, other than bolstering our faith in Scripture and in Christ? Well, here’s one that jumps out at me: When Jesus tells me something, I need to listen. I can point my finger and accuse the apostles of shutting their ears to what their Lord had plainly said, but am I any better?
Lord Jesus, it’s like the “ears” of my spirit need to be unstopped at times. Only you can do that. Please.