John 20:1-18 (spring AD 30, Sunday morning of Passion Week)
Jesus is alive!
No seriously, he really is! This passage, other than containing the best news in history, also continues to provide evidence for that great news, despite so many people trying to debunk it. We looked at three alternatives to the reality of Jesus’ resurrection yesterday, here’s more:
Anti-resurrection theory 4: the sightings of Jesus by his friends were just wish-fulfilment.
They wanted to see it, they hoped to see it, therefore they did sit…but only in their heads.
This theory quickly falls apart because it relies on a level of expectation that the hoped-for good thing would happen. However, NONE of the disciples and NONE of the three women who went to the tomb on that Sunday, expected to find anything other than Jesus’ dead body. Indeed, when the women found the tomb empty they didn’t think ‘Wow, maybe he rose from the dead!’ Rather, they were certain that someone had moved Jesus’ body (see v.1-10). They were SO convinced of his death, that even when Jesus himself appeared to them – right in front of them – their first instinct was to assume he was the gardener.
So on the one hand, the disciples’ slowness in understanding Scripture and Jesus’ clear words about what would happen to him, is maddening. On the other hand, it provides us with yet another reason to trust the accounts given to us in God’s Word about what happened.
Why does God keep doing that? Putting in more and more circumstantial evidence to go along with the first-hand evidence that Jesus rose from the dead? Isn’t our religion one of faith and relationship?
Yes it is, but it is a faith and a relationship based on incontrovertible historical facts on which we rely. As Paul put it in 1 Corinthians 15:13-14, “If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith”. The existence of faith is not a virtue. Suicide bombers have plenty of faith. Delusional people who think they’re the world’s greatest [whatever] have faith. The value of faith depends entirely on what – or whom – that faith is in.
As Christians, our faith is in a sovereign, almighty, loving, holy and just, promise-keeping God who has demonstrated his power over life over death.