We have hope for today and tomorrow because Jesus resurrected! But I understand that there are many who have doubts about the resurrection of Christ in our wider community. You might be one of those who wrestle with spiritual doubt.
The reality is we all have doubts in life. We may doubt our ability to do our job well. One may doubt their parenting skills. Yes, we all experience doubt in a variety of spheres: government, economics, public health, education, family, career, athletics, and on and on it goes.
In the Bible, even one of Jesus’ followers experienced doubts. His name was Thomas. Read what he said when he met the resurrected Christ:
So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “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.” (John 20:25 ESV)
Do you find yourself in a similar spot? “If Jesus showed up right now then I’d believe!”
Thomas doesn’t doubt because there is a lack of sufficient evidence standing right before him. No, he doubts because his mind is blown, and his heart is broken. His mind is blown because he had no category for a dying messiah or a suffering God. Many of the early disciples erroneously thought the messiah would be a political or military figure that beat back the Romans and built a massive earthly kingdom. Thomas’ mind is also blown because he just witnessed Jesus being brutally murdered and crucified. In addition to this, Thomas’ heart is broken. His friend just died. Not only did he die, but he’s likely a little embarrassed because he had begun to believe and follow him. Now, something that he didn’t have a nice category for has happened.
Here is a hard reality. The mind will not accept what the heart rejects.
I suspect that many people reject the resurrection of Jesus because God is not like what they think. So, they have questions and doubts like Thomas. But here is the crux, the resurrection interrupts our questions. One must consider the resurrection of Jesus. One must give space in their heart and mind to doubt their doubts.
Doubt your doubts. Here is what I mean. You doubt everything else in life. Why not take a moment to doubt your spiritual doubts? Let me help you start.
1. Why would the gospel writers record women first to the empty tomb? If they were trying to fabricate a story, they would have placed men there first in their society. It was admittedly a strange time, but the testimony of women would have been viewed as less than convincing. So, why did they record women first to the empty tomb? Simple. They were there first.
2. Some have suggested robbers stole the body of Jesus. If that were the case, why were the only possessions of value left in the tomb (the grave clothes)?
3. Others have suggested that the Romans must have taken the body of Jesus. If that was the case, why did they never present the body to stop the spread of Christianity that they so violently opposed?
4. More have suggested the Jews took the body. Again, if they took the body why did they never present the body to stop the spread of Christianity?
5. Still more suggest the disciples themselves stole and hid the body. Doubt your doubts. Men die for conviction not concoction. Not even one of them recanted the story of the resurrection in the face of death. They did not gain power. They were martyred for their belief in the resurrected Christ!
6. Some have suggested that Jesus didn’t die but passed out. The Romans were professional executioners. He was flogged and beaten. He was whipped. He was crucified. Could Jesus have passed out after torture and crucifixion, then after three days of no water and food woke up, took off the burial clothes, rolled away a three-ton stone, and went Ninja Jesus on the guard?
7. Well, maybe the New Testament letters are phony? Doubt your doubts. The quantity of New Testament manuscripts is unparalleled in ancient literature. There are about 5,800 Greek manuscripts and about 15,000 manuscripts in other languages. In fact, in the first 40 years over 5,000 manuscripts appeared of this resurrection event. The New Testament literature is unparalleled when compared to other ancient literature.
8. The New Testament church was birthed at a time when you could go and talk to eyewitnesses of the death and resurrection of Jesus.
Something happened. Jesus resurrected from the grave. All of Christianity hinges on this truth. Jesus was not simply a good moral teacher. Jesus rose from the dead.
Unlike all other world religions, the central claims of the Bible are open and public. There were eyewitnesses. In 1 Corinthians 15, the resurrected Jesus appeared to as many as 500 people at one time. There is evidence that Jesus lived, died and rose to life again. Possibly the greatest evidence is the birth of the church. Even secular historians concede that a new religion sprung up essentially overnight. A new religion (Christianity) went on to penetrate the hearts and minds of all types of people and groups.
This Easter doubt your doubts. We have hope for today and hope for tomorrow because Jesus rose from the dead. Jesus is alive and can take a messed-up childhood and redeem it. Jesus is alive and can take a dead marriage and breathe new life into it. Jesus is alive and can take a sinful past and weave together a beautiful story. Jesus is alive and brings each of us hope beyond death.
This is what we celebrate as Christians at Easter. Jesus is the resurrected and the resurrector.