Do Not Disbelieve (John 20:19-31) Part 4 of 5

  • Written by James Lee
  • Published: 20 April 2017

Eight days after Thomas' disavowal, Jesus appears again to the disciples when Thomas is around. He gently chides Thomas for his unbelief by inviting Him to touch His wounds on His hands and side. And He says, "Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."

Jesus is not calling for a blind faith here. Blind faith is believing in something that is contrary to what is true or believing something without really knowing what it is one believes. This is not to say that faith is no different from knowledge. They are closely related but they are not the same. A valid faith is based on knowledge, not just on feelings or hopes. But faith by nature is outside the domain of knowledge. It is one thing to know our parents; it is another to actually trust our parents. Satan knows God, quite possibly better than any of us. But he doesn’t trust God. It is one thing to gain knowledge through scientific endeavors. But it is another to think that science is the only method of obtaining knowledge. That is called scientism, a belief system. And it is one thing to say that it's difficult to believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ; it is another to say that we know Jesus didn't rise again from the dead.  

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!

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