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.[1] 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!

[1]. 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

Post thoughts:

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.

God’s blessings,

Kendell Healy