A Doubting Heart
Belief in only the spiritual resurrection places us back in the hearts of the doubting disciples before Jesus proved them otherwise. I’m going to use Luke 24:36-43 to support my argument. I’m also quoting directly, so that the scripture can remain in its full context.
Before reading further I want to cite what N.T. Wright wrote on the subject of life after death: Many Jews believed in a continuing life after death, but in a disembodied state that neither needed nor expected a future embodiment. Knowing this helps us to better understand Luke 24:36-43.
Luke 24:37 [ESV] But they were startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit.
It was much more reasonable and easier for the disciples to grasp the spiritual at this point rather than the reality of Jesus being physically present with them. I find this rather odd considering that most people, especially today, need proof of the spiritual and not the physical. This passage supports N.T. Wright’s statement listed above. What I find unique is that it was quite the paradoxical situation in such a way that Jesus was in their presence in which they could physically see him, but they needed physical proof that they were really physically seeing him. Isn’t that odd?
Luke 24:38 And he said to them, Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? See my hands and my feet, that it is myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.
It seems to me that Jesus felt it necessary to move the disciples from a belief not only in a spiritual resurrection, but to belief in a fully bodily resurrection as well. Jesus transformed the paradoxical situation into a catapult of physical reality, something that Thomas did not easily grasp until he physically sensed Jesus’ sacrificial markings in John 20:27. I don’t see how anyone can take Luke 24:38 to mean anything other than what it says – it wasn’t a parable.
It is necessary to believe in the bodily resurrection of Christ. Referring again to Luke 24:38 where Jesus asks, “Why do doubts arise in your hearts?” Remember, they thought they were seeing a spirit, they could accept that, but Jesus required them to believe in his full physical resurrection as well. I believe Jesus required them, as well as us, to go all the way.
Is it a deal breaker? It seems I have concluded that it is, however, I do not hold the gavel that decides if it is or not. In truth I only see reward for our faith in the bodily resurrection, however I do see possible risk and a potential snowballing effect, in not believing it, and that my brothers and sisters could be fatal.
Mark 9:24 – Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe, help my unbelief!”
. Wright, N.T. “The Transforming Reality of the Bodily Resurrection.” modified and excerpted from “The Meaning of Jesus: Two Visions by N.T. Wright and M. Borg., 1999
Do you struggle with belief in Jesus Christ and his full bodily resurrection? Do you find yourself relating more to the apostles unbelief? That’s ok, I rejoice in the fact that you are being honest and seeking your way towards a relationship with Jesus Christ (Philippians 2:12-13). I do pray that the verses embedded within this post do provide an explanation, or at the very least provide a springboard towards a stronger faith for you. I understand that for some of us, this may be a difficult question to answer, to which I lovingly say, “We are called to strengthen and renew our minds, so let us do just that.” 🙂 —- hint: Read your Bible
Romans 12:2 [ESV] Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Great explanation of that passage Kendell! I never thought of the bodily resurrection from the perspective of the disciples.
Thank you Michael, I actually never gave it too much thought in that direction as well. It really is a fascinating topic. I do wonder how many people actually think deeply about the spiritual and bodily resurrection. I’ve been raised up just to accept it, but I am curious, how would I react towards hearing about it for the first time? How similar would I be to a first century Jew? What our your thoughts on that? Anyone care to chime in? —– The question again is:
How would you react towards hearing about Christ’s bodily resurrection for the first time? Can you imagine that? Or do you remember when you heard about it for the first time? How accepting were you? Did you step out in faith? or did you need more nudgings from the Holy Spirit?
I was a gullible child, and believed in almost everything I heard. In saying that ….. I am no longer a child, nor am I gullible 🙂 I actually learned about the resurrection from my parents but really got an idea of what it was all about by way of Hollywood. My first made for tv movie series of “Jesus the Nazarene.” It was really a good movie for its day. It really tried to stay true to the bible and didn’t seem over acted. Being visual as a child I really got to feel the characters in the bible by watching the movie and had a new sense of worship when seeing Jesus crucified and when he rose from the dead was a magnificent moment for me to see. It really helped me in my walk to strengthen my faith. So here is at least 1 point for Hollywood 🙂
Evelyn, your testimony is a perfect example of Matthew 18:3 [ESV] “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” and since you are no longer a child, we can now turn to Hebrews 6:1-4 [ESV] “Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God,” – Thank you for sharing. —– now about that point for Hollywood….. 🙂 Just kidding — Thanks for sharing!!!
I’m not sure if I was just naive, but I have never questioned it. As miraculous as it is and was, I accepted it as total truth. In retrospect….it had to be that childlike faith as I received that as a child and had no doubt, and it stayed with me throughout my life. It is pretty incredible, but as I learn more about God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit it seems normal in our abnormal world. Does that make any sense at all?
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The reason why the world doesn’t know us is that it did not know him 1 John 3:1 ESV