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ARTICLES

MY LORD AND MY GOD!
Curt Simmons - Chicago, Illinois
June 2004

"Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe." Thomas said to him, "My Lord and my God!" (John 20:27-28)

The resurrection, amazing as it is to us, was merely another day at the office or walk in the park for Jesus. It is simply one more truth about this amazing man that separates him from any alleged competition about the one we should choose to honor and obey as our final authority. (Matthew 28:16-20) His birth. His fulfillment of specific Old Testament prophecies. His miracles. His teaching. His love. His perfection. His death. And now, his resurrection! Throughout the ages, those who have attempted to lay claim to being God's chosen one have produced nothing even remotely close to the credentials needed to back it up. But the greatest proof of their unworthy candidacy-all of them remain in their graves awaiting the day they will bow before the one who escaped from his. (Philippians 2:9-11)
Buddha, Confucius, Mohammed and many others in probably every generation have claimed to be God's final spokesman. Today, billions still cling to the teachings of these men from earth but know little or nothing about the Man from heaven. How foolish!! None of these men ever said they would resurrect from the dead. And most certainly, none of these men actually rose from the dead. And since it was clearly a non-issue to them, none even bothered to determine how they would go about proving they had risen from the dead. And check it out with any of the current followers in these religious movements - none of them will gladly give up their lives to tell the world their leader has risen from the dead. Yet Jesus truly conquered death and was totally unaffected by its lasting sting. (1Corinthians 15:50-57) While Jesus was alive, he wasn't apprehensive or insecure about stating any of it as an "already done deal." And when finally put to death and given the opportunity to prove he wasn't just all talk, Jesus walked out of the tomb within three days and accomplished this amazing feat.

He predicted it

Talk about pressure! Over and over again, Jesus told his twelve disciples and many others that physical death would not signal the end of his life or his ministry. (Luke 9:21-22) More often than not, his listeners failed to understand the message of the resurrection, or perhaps they blew it off as merely metaphorical or more than they could handle at the time. Nevertheless, Jesus continued to predict it. He wanted people to hear it. He hoped they would write it down and then wait for it to happen. He looked forward to his critics trying to make sure it would never happen. He knew he had come from God and was returning to God (John 13:3) and the tomb was just a temporary stop. Three days would be enough rest for Jesus, then he would go right back to work preaching, loving, forgiving, interceding, judging and being for a lost world what they still needed him to be - both Lord and Christ. (Acts 2:36)
He performed it
Then he did it. Early that Sunday morning, life and breath were given back to the crucified Son of God. His brain waves began to function. His heart started beating. His eyelids were opened. His muscles flexed. His blood flowed. He woke up, sat up, stood up and removed his temporary grave clothes. Then, as a company of Roman soldiers shook with fear and froze as though dead, an angel who would make Arnold look like a lightweight rolled the tremendous stone away from the tomb's entrance and Jesus walked out, never to die again. (Matthew 28:2-4)
He proved it
Now it was time to show his face. He knew many would still wonder if it were true even after seeing him. For Jesus, then, it was all about leaving convincing proof. He didn't want anyone who saw him beyond the grave to think he was only a mirage or a make-pretend friend. He was Jesus and he was back from the dead. And he needed to convince more than just a few. So for forty days, Jesus proved this resurrection thing was for real. People touched him and talked with him. A privileged few ate with him and were taught by him. Some received a rebuke from him for their lack of faith as he showed them his crucifixion scars.

He appeared a number of times to different numbers of people. Mary Magdalene was the first to witness the resurrection. (Mark 16:9) He also had an extended conversation with two disciples somewhere on the road to Emmaus. (Luke 24:13-35) On another occasion, Jesus had a meal on the beach with seven of the disciples. (John 21:1-14) He met once with all the disciples except Thomas. (John 20:19-25) He fellowshipped with the remaining eleven apostles a number of times over a period of 40 days and with 500-plus believers on one occasion. (Acts 1:1-5, 1 Corinthians 15:6)

His visits were well calculated in anticipation of the doubters who lived then and those who remain skeptical today. What if Mary's resurrection claim wasn't taken seriously because most people would perceive her to be an emotional "basket-case" who just needed some time to help her deal with her grief or move beyond the denial stage after losing a best friend. Maybe a similar claim from two trusted men who spent much of one day with the risen Jesus would carry more clout with the unbelievers. If that still wasn't enough proof for some, maybe it would help to have a resurrection rally highlighted by personal sharing from seven no-longer-scared disciples talking of the time they sat around a fire enjoying some fish and bread with a supposed dead man. Perhaps then this resurrection rumor would establish some credibility. If that were still being concluded as "insufficient evidence" for the skeptics, could a talk with Thomas put some of their unbelief to death? After all, Thomas was well-known amongst his peers for his intellectual skepticism. Maybe a "touching" testimony from his lips would change their hearts. What if all of that evidence was still judged to be incomplete and unreliable for some? Could five hundred men standing up and telling the exact same story about the day they saw Jesus beyond the tomb help the cause? Certainly, by this time, the "Jesus is alive" allegations would have gained tremendous momentum and be deemed by many as worthy of serious investigation.

He preached it

Letting a little more than five hundred people in on the most important truth of all time was not the plan of Jesus. He wanted everybody to know and called for the truth of his resurrection to be the cornerstone of the apostle's preaching. So he met with his disciples on numerous occasions and methodically explained this all-important truth from the Scriptures. (Luke 24:44-49, Acts 1:1-9) He rebuked them for their lack of faith that he would be resurrected and charged them emphatically to let the world know what they had been privileged to witness. (Mark 16:14-16) For forty days he trained them for their mission. For forty days his physical presence eroded any of their lingering doubts. For forty days he listened as the disciples asked their questions and for forty days he pleaded with them to preach about the answers he supplied. For forty days he encouraged his disciples to cling to the joy from understanding how, even if their preaching led to a martyr's fate, their death would lead to an amazing resurrection. (Acts 1:1-6) These eleven disciples were the key to the salvation of all men and women from that day forward. And from what we see documented in the book of Acts and confirmed in the epistles (Colossians 1:23), and from the billions who have clung tightly to the "resurrection truth" since the first century, they were truly successful in their mission to unashamedly convey that Jesus had indeed conquered death. Today, we are the beneficiaries of their boldness!

The resurrection of Jesus!! Should we be shocked? Should we be surprised? Should we hope that it happened or have full confidence? Should we doubt it or fully disclose it? After watching and listening to an amazing presentation of "talent" in the life of Jesus, doesn't his encore seem to fit? And if the fireworks display has made you ooh and aah, shouldn't the finale leave you breathless?
Like Thomas, we, too, can confidently and proudly proclaim the same truth that he came face-to-face with the day he saw the risen Christ: Jesus - our Lord and our God and our absolute proof that life after death is both real and ready to change our perspective on life and death.


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