Do Not Disbelieve (John 20:19-31) Part 3 of 5

  • Written by James Lee
  • Published: 20 April 2017

But there's more to what Christianity means by the resurrection of Christ. His resurrection was more than mere resuscitation. Resuscitation means restoring (or bringing) someone back to life from death (or unconsciousness). People don't have problems with resuscitation. Many have been declared medically dead and somehow brought back to life. But Jesus' resurrection was more than just resuscitation. Remember what Martha confessed about her understanding of resurrection? All the dead would be raised on the last day either unto everlasting life or everlasting shame. In His resurrection Jesus did not just come back to life, only to die again later: that happened to many people. In His resurrection Jesus was raised unto eternal life.

 

That is what people have a hard time believing and understandably so. Jesus' resurrection is difficult to believe because we don't see anything like that ever happening. After all, it's contrary to the laws of nature. On a pleasant day like today, death may seem unreal, too. But at least we know it happens everyday, everywhere. Many of us have witnessed death. But Jesus' resurrection is a totally different story, isn't it?

 

 

Do Not Disbelieve (John 20:19-31) Part 2 of 5

  • Written by James Lee
  • Published: 20 April 2017

Take a look at the passage. One thing that jumps out at us is the difficulty that Thomas had in accepting Jesus' resurrection. But the rest of the disciples were no better. Today's passage follows Mary Magdalene's encounter with the risen Christ at the tomb and her report to the rest of the disciples. But her words didn't seem to have made much impact on them. When today's passage begins, we are told, "On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews…" (v. 19). Thomas was even worse. The phrase, "doubting Thomas," was coined on account of this incident. He was not there when Jesus first appeared to the disciples. When the rest of the disciples told him how the resurrected Jesus appeared to them, he adamantly refused to believe: "Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe" (v. 25).

Thomas' words show what an average person at that time understood by resurrection: the resurrection of the body, not just the appearance of a ghost; the literal, bodily resurrection, not just a metaphor for the revival of His teaching in the hearts of His disciples or His Spirit passing on into another state of existence. Thomas swore that he would never believe what the other disciples were telling him unless he saw Jesus' body and actually put his finger into Jesus' wounds from the crucifixion.

Do Not Disbelieve (John 20:19-31) Part 1 of 5

  • Written by James Lee
  • Published: 19 April 2017

What Easter means for Christians is very simple and clear: it commemorates the resurrection of Jesus Christ, which occurred around 30 AD. This message of Jesus' death and resurrection is, in fact, the central point of the Christian message. Paul made this clear when he told the Corinthians, "And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins" (1 Cor. 15:17).

This is where many people roll their eyes and say, "I can't believe people actually believe that stuff still!" They think that religions like Christianity could take off only because it got started in the ancient world when people were naïve and gullible to all kinds of myths and crazy ideas. Well, it's true that the ancient people believed in many myths and held all kinds of superstitious views. (Can we say that we as modern/postmodern people are free from crazy, weird ideas stemming from all kinds of social experimentation?) I don't think they were as dumb and gullible as we think. The same era, which created many myths and superstitions, also produced amazing minds like Socrates, Plato, Aristotle and many more.

Three Burials (Josh. 24:29-33) Part 5 of 5

  • Written by James Lee
  • Published: 07 April 2017

From this heavenly, eternal perspective, we can see the limitations of the Promised Land. It may seem like an earthly paradise, a land flowing with milk and honey, in which people lived a long, prosperous life and died peacefully at a ripe age. But is that the epitome of human existence or happiness? Even in the Old Testament God told Aaron and his priestly descendants, "You shall have no inheritance in their land, neither shall you have any portion among them. I am your portion and your inheritance among the people of Israel" (Num. 18:20). From the heavenly perspective, the land of Canaan was one big cemetery where the dead were buried. That has not changed at all: that reality continues on to this day and will continue on. Many refuse to be daunted by this reality. They face death head on and accept its reality and inevitability. Instead of subjecting themselves to despair, they use the fact of death to motivate themselves to live each day more fully. And their efforts are admirable and inspirational. But each and every one of their stories will end with a burial notice. Whatever the sentence of their lives might have been, its inevitable end will be that final punctuation mark. 

This was true of all men, except Jesus Christ. Jesus is greater than Moses and Joshua. He did not come to take possession of an earthly paradise. He did not come all the way from heaven to restore a plot of land to the nation of Israel, which was not much more than a burial ground! As the greater Joshua, He came to bring His people to the heavenly Paradise where His people can live forever in the presence of God Himself!

Three Burials (Josh. 24:29-33) Part 4 of 5

  • Written by James Lee
  • Published: 06 April 2017

The third burial notice is regarding Eleazar the high priest. We haven't heard much about Eleazar in the Book of Joshua. But he had an important role in the distribution of Israel's inheritance. Why? If you recall, the distribution of the land was by casting lots to discern the will of God. This fell under Eleazar's responsibility as the high priest. When Joshua was appointed as Moses' successor, the Lord said, "And [Joshua] shall stand before Eleazar the priest, who shall inquire for him by the judgment of the Urim before the LORD." The Urim and the Thummim, which were sometimes simply called the Urim as here, were associated with the breastplate that the high priest wore (Lev. 8:8). This breastplate was also called "the breastplate of judgment" (Ex. 28:30) because it was used to divine God's will.

 

 

Why is Eleazar's death mentioned here? Joshua was the undisputed leader of Israel. But he was not the only one. There were elders. There were tribal leaders, too. But for the theocratic nation that Israel was, the role of the high priest was obviously one of the most important ones. In a theocratic nation, the church and the state are inseparably connected; in fact, the state is under the authority of its religion. The sanctuary is therefore not only the center of its religious life but also its national life as a whole. And it was the high priest who was in charge of the sanctuary and its worship. So then, the fact that Eleazar died would be notable news because of the significant role he played in the life of Israel. But it would not be anything extraordinary because everyone dies in the end. It was his turn.

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