Your high school mission team return home late tonight from a successful week of service. Pictures and stories to come next week. For now, our next chapter.
The Pharisees were worried that the disciples would steal Jesus’ body and claim that he had risen. “This last deception would be worse than the first.”
Jesus rose from the dead and it was not a deception.
Jesus’ resurrection is challenged from time to time; even today. Some continue with the Pharisees argument that Jesus’ disciples really did steal his body and that Jesus never actually rose from the dead. Personally, I believe that there is some compelling evidence (beyond simply faith) for Jesus’ resurrection.
First, all of Jesus’ disciples (except John) were eventually killed because of their faith. And John was exiled for it. If Jesus rising from the dead was a fabrication of the disciples, then logically we must ask what they gained from it. They did not gain wealth. They did not gain fame.
Instead, what history tells us is that Jesus’ disciples were killed by their government because of their conviction. They believed deeply in Jesus’ resurrection. And they continued to preach about his resurrection even when their own lives were at risk.
We see a glimpse of this when Jesus tells Peter that a day will come when “you will stretch out your hands and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” This is an illusion to Peter’s eventual crucifixion.
The bottom line is that what the disciples saw changed them. Dramatically. And they spent the rest of their lives telling anyone who would listen about what they saw and experienced.
The risen Christ changed their lives.
Did you notice that you are mentioned in this chapter?
“…blessed are those who have not seen (Jesus) and yet have believed.” We live in a time period that is 2,000 years removed from when Jesus walked the earth. Here Jesus remarks about how glad he is that there will be people who still believe in him even though they have not seen him with their own two eyes.
There are challenges to living in our current time period. In our post-enlightenment world some find it foolish to believe in things that cannot be proven.
And yet…there is something beautiful about knowing that Jesus knew we would live in this time, and takes great joy in our belief.
This chapter ends with Jesus leaving the earth. But before he departs, he gives his disciples one final instruction.
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”
Two thousand years later, the church continues in this command. We are baptizing in the name of the Trinity. We are sharing Jesus’ teachings. We are seeking to make disciples of every region, nation and country.
The church is still at work.
You are a part of that.