Perusal* – Spring 2016, Skeptics and the Resurrection
(* perusal; to examine or consider with attention and in detail)
John 20:26: “And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, “Peace to you!” 27 Then He said to Thomas, “Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.” 28 And Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus said to him, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
In 1961 four lads from Liverpool met with Decca Records to discuss a new artist contract. After listening to the group play two songs, “Please, Please Me” and “Love Me do” the consensus was their music was not in the current pop mainstream. The lads were told, “guitar bands are on the way out!” In 1962 their manager, Brian Epstein, contacted a friend of his, George Martin, and arranged an audition for the group. Martin listened politely and then commented, “I think with some arrangement the songs may sell.” The four lads, John, Paul, George, and a late addition to the Beatles, Ringo Starr, were signed to Parlophone, EMI’s smaller label. The rest of the story is pop music history!
Skeptics often guess and at times they guess wrong. And when they do they get it terribly wrong. Jesus’ disciples were not pre-disposed to belief in the validity of the resurrection. After all, no one had ever risen from the dead of his own accord. Peter and John were not convinced by the women returning from the tomb and their claim that Jesus’ body was missing. They ran to see for themselves and later that first Sunday witnessed Jesus appearing in the Upper Room, the very same room in which he had promised his being raised from the dead.
Thomas was not with the other ten when Jesus appeared on the first resurrection Sunday. It was the next Sunday, a full week after that Thomas witnessed his Lord. He fell victim to a season of doubt. “Doubting” Thomas! He has been called “doubting” for a very long time. But don’t we all doubt? Doubtless events, circumstances, troubles, insufficient information and many other issues confound and confuse our finite minds. Try as we might, we sometimes are riddled with doubts. And Thomas was experiencing the human condition.
Jesus convinced his followers that He was the Messiah prophesied in the Old Testament. But Messiahs do not die, especially from the cruel and torturous manner of crucifixion. All the disciples were in doubt of the resurrection, not just Thomas. They had seen and touched Christ Jesus the week before and their doubts were answered. But Thomas had a crisis of conscience, he doubted their testimony like so very many today doubt the tangible, physical resurrection of Jesus the Christ.
Maybe Thomas had a bit of Missourian in him – he was from the “show me” state or region of Palestine. Jesus satisfied his longing mind. I’m certain Thomas wanted the resurrection of God the Son to be true, but was hesitant because of sin. Sin causes unbelief, whether in recording companies or individuals…”be not faithless, but believing.” How can our disposition to doubt be eclipsed? God’s Spirit must convince us that His word is truth and His truth is the most valuable evidence for life after this life in this mortal world. God alone brings us to salvation as Jesus alone brought Thomas to the reality of His physical resurrection. “Reach out your hands and touch me” he said. Confirm my flesh, feel the wounds from my scars. “Don’t be a skeptic, but believe!”
There is much to be skeptical of in our fallen world, but faith in Jesus Christ and His glorious resurrection should be the one event that transforms our doubts. Doubtless, is the antithesis of doubting. Doubtless there would not be hope in the hereafter without the Resurrection. Do not make the skeptical mistake that Decca records did in 1961. Listen to the music of God’s love for you and take hold of His promises in the grace of Jesus Christ to all that repent of their sins and believe. He brings us to the place of choosing with the truth of His word. We are blessed if we believe without seeing, though the truth is, we have seen the risen Lord!
It is my prayer that the Holy Spirit will reveal the truth of scripture to you this Easter and that a skeptical heart may be convince of divine truth, transplanted by the risen Lord Jesus Christ!
The Lord is risen indeed!
Sola Deo Gloria! Pastor Carey