You know those TV shows and psychic mediums that work with people to try to communicate from beyond the grave? It’s impressive. They’ll “sense” a variety of things – perhaps a red toy and someone’s name that starts with a G or J. Then, some expectant person from the audience will chime in that their cousin Jason fell off a red rider wagon in Georgia, and the medium is off and running. Is it true? I suppose it depends how one measures truth. What is true is Jesus’ resurrection.
Now, many scoff at the resurrection of Jesus. Impossible. Can’t happen. We know better. We’re intellectually superior to the ancients. We could never believe such things today. Yet, here many of us are, enthralled by psychic wisdom from beyond.
But here’s the thing, the folks in the first century didn’t believe the resurrection either. Despite the fact the Jesus repeatedly told his followers he was going to die and rise again on the third day, they didn’t go to Jesus’ tomb to see if he was alive. Instead, the women went and bought expensive spices to prepare his corpse.
You’d think at least one of his followers would have said, “Hey, didn’t Jesus say he was going to rise again on the third day? Let’s check it out. Can’t hurt, right?” They didn’t. They didn’t believe – resurrection wasn’t even in their paradigm of belief like it is in ours.
If we think that the resurrection was fabricated, using women as the eyewitnesses is just stupid. Yet all four gospels have women. Women’s testimony was not valid – women were hysterical – too emotional to provide objective accounts. Even when the women told the disciples, they didn’t believe them. So what did this mean? It means that the testimony of the women is an accurate historical account and not a fabrication. The tomb was empty.
But, we say, maybe they got the wrong tomb. Maybe his body was stolen. But these objection don’t hold up against the historical accounts. The women knew exactly where he was buried. And if Rome or the Jewish authorities stole his body all they had to do was produce it. They didn’t. Jesus followers were too shocked, bewildered, and scared that they would face a similar fate to be so bold as to sneak past Roman guards, roll away a giant stone, and steal his body. It didn’t happen.
In addition to the evidence of the actual events at the tomb is that despite all the initial unbelief, something radically and suddenly altered their worldview. What turned a cowardly, ragtag band of followers into courageous witnesses to the truth of the resurrection? They encountered the risen Christ.
If we read the bible, we’re told that Jesus physically appeared to his disciples and many others. The apostle Paul, one of the most credible sources, tells us, “…he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living…” In other words, Paul was saying, if you don’t believe me, ask them.
There’s lots more , of course. Jesus appeared to his disciples, to which the women must have been like, “Told you so! Men!” And we have the story of doubting Thomas and the Road to Emmaus. What we don’t have is any psychic “beyond the grave” stuff. It was real. Jesus told Thomas, Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.
Through an angel at the empty tomb he even calls Peter by name from beyond the grave. He didn’t say, “I’m thinking of a Jew, and a fish, I’m sensing some anger issues”…etc. Instead we’re told, go, tell his disciples and Peter, He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.
What’s interesting is that there is not a lot of discussion after the resurrection. The gospels end rather quickly. Sure there are appearances, the miraculous catch of fish, Peter’s reinstatement, the ascension…etc. But, perhaps we ask, why didn’t the Gospels go on an on? I mean the guy did rise from the dead, right? Why didn’t they drive this point home? They did. Come and see. Two billion plus and growing claim Jesus as the King, the Son of God, the conqueror of death, and the savior of the world.
Thank for reading,
~ Ted Olson