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Jesus is alive? They didn’t believe it or didn’t recognize him.

Posted by on Apr 18, 2011 in discipleship, scripture | 4 comments

Jesus is alive? They didn’t believe it or didn’t recognize him.

For the next two weeks, we’re studying Luke 24 together as the church. Luke 24 is Luke’s description of the events following Jesus’ resurrection.

We’re studying this chapter for 2 reasons: 1) this is the time of the year when the church typically focuses on the resurrection, and 2) we’re preparing for a chapter-by-chapter study of the book of Acts. (See my post “We’re about to begin studying the book of Acts together.“)

As I read through Luke 24, I noticed a recurring theme: the people who had spent time with Jesus did not believe that he had risen from the dead or did not recognize him, even after hearing personal testimony from others who had seen him alive (in some cases).

For example, in Luke 24, some women find Jesus’ tomb empty. Instead of finding his body, they find angels who tell them that Jesus has risen from the dead. (By the way, the angels also remind the women that Jesus had told them that he was going to be crucified and rise from the third day.)

When the women returned to tell Jesus’ other disciples what they had seen and heard, the others did not believe the women. In fact, they considered this idea that the women had seen angels and that Jesus had risen from the dead to be “idle talk.”

Cleopas and another disciple walked with Jesus on the way to Emmaus. But, they didn’t recognize him either. They knew that some people had claimed to see Jesus alive, but their words indicated that they did not believe it. Even while Jesus was teaching them from the OT Scriptures, the two did not recognize who Jesus was.

Once the two recognized Jesus and returned to the other disciples in Jerusalem, they were all still surprised when Jesus stood before them. They still had trouble believing that Jesus was physically alive, and thought that he must have been a spirit or a ghost.

So, these people had lived with Jesus for years. They heard him teach. They also heard him explain that he was going to die and be raised on the third day. He had told them this several times. But, when it actually happened, they did not believe it.

For the most part, they did not believe that Jesus had risen from the dead until they actually saw him, touched him, ate with him, or some other personal interaction with Jesus proving that he was both alive and human (i.e., not a ghost). For the two disciples walking to Emmaus, even a perfect description of Jesus from Scripture was not enough for them to believe, until their “eyes were opened.”

Why are we surprised that people today do not believe that Jesus was raised from the dead? Why are we surprised that people come up with other explanations for the empty tomb?

Yes, like the original disciples and Paul and other evangelists and apostles in Scripture, we proclaim the truth of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. But, we must also understand that people will not believe until they also have a personal interaction with Jesus Christ.


4 Comments

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  1. 4-18-2011

    It seems that, in the 1st century, many came to a personal interaction with the risen Christ because they saw him in the lives of those who were his followers. We’ve exchanged that for simply “proclaiming” the resurrection without living it.

  2. 4-18-2011

    Fred,

    I love the way that you put that. I think that Jesus still interacts with people through the lives of his brothers/sisters, when we do not get in the way. And, yes, we must allow him to live his resurrected life through us, not simply proclaim facts about the resurrection.

    -Alan

  3. 2-6-2013

    Jesus invited Thomas to touch him, so that he would no longer doubt but believe in Him (John 20:27). After doing so, Thomas worshipped Jesus as his Lord and God (John 20:28). Jesus then said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29).

    People who have not seen Jesus firsthand but still believe in Him — which includes all believers living today — came to faith in Christ through the new birth. Such a miracle was necessary in Jesus’ day too (John 3:3-8). Even for Thomas.

    Jesus is personally active today in gathering together the children of God who are scattered abroad (John 11:52). The Good Shepherd calls His sheep and they hear His voice (John 10:14-16). “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27).

    Our belief in Christ, His atoning death, His resurrection and every other truth about Him, which changes the way we live, is a result of His Spirit pouring into our hearts the love of God (Rom. 5:5). As we share the gospel, new faith in others will arise the same way. “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Cor. 4:6).

    This leads to what Peter wrote: “Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls” (1 Pet. 1:8-9).

    “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed,” Jesus said. Blessed indeed.

  4. 2-6-2013

    Rick,

    Exactly.

    -Alan