All the messages I've heard this week about the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead have to do with the "proofs for the resurrection." Since we are 2,000 years away (or so) from the first Easter morning, the actual event, it's probably a good thing to hear all these messages. After all, the resurrection is the key event in the history of the Gospel. Without it, nothing else really matters. How is being Christian different from being Buddhist if there is no resurrection? How can we expect to live in heaven with a God who loves us? and so on. The list of things that "don't work" if there's no resurrection is virtually endless.
However, the point that's almost never made is that the disciples didn't believe in Jesus' resurrection because they wanted to do so, but because they had to. They literally had no choice. Jesus faced them with it. He forced them into believing that He had risen. He made them believe. He stood in front of them, and made them touch Him. He commanded them to touch his death-wounds. He ate with them. He kept on appearing to them. They literally watched Him go into heaven.
Get this fact firmly in your minds:
The disciples DID NOT BELIEVE UNTIL THEY WERE FORCED TO DO SO.
The reason they believed even then is that there was no choice. This was too real. It's like the most real thing that ever happened in your life, multiplied by 10. It was inescapable. They couldn't evade it. The only real way to deny that the Apostles and other disciples believed the resurrection is to say, "Well, later authors made this up." And that is possible. Perhaps they did so. But why? Why would a later author make up a fiction that was sure to get him killed? Don't forget, most of the early Christian leaders were martyrs. They died because they believed that Jesus had risen from the dead. Not only that, Jesus had a vexing way of appearing to people after He returned to heaven. Stephen is a great example of this. He's in the process of insuring his own death by testifying about Jesus, infuriating the crowds, and Jesus appears to him, standing at the throne of God. Why not just say, "I made a mistake." You guys were right, Jesus is really dead. Sorry. Please let me have a 'do-over!" The book of Acts says that the folk who were stoning Stephen laid their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul. This same young man didn't believe Stephen, didn't believe in the resurrection of Jesus, and sought to exterminate everyone who did. However, he himself became a subject of one of those vexing appearances when he was on his way to continue his persecutions of the people who DID believe. Jesus appeared to him, and eventually this young man named Saul got his name changed to Paul, and we know him as "the Apostle Paul." Why, of all people, would HE believe in the resurrection?? The simplest answer is that he couldn't deny it any longer. He HAD to believe. No choice.
Paul often referred to this moment in his life as "the change point." He spoke of this vision, and of its consequences, numerous times in Acts, and also in his letters. So HE believed in the resurrection because he couldn't help himself. After Jesus appeared to him, there was no remaining decision. He had to follow Jesus as the risen Lord.
Now, how about YOU?? Is there any possibility that you could experience something of the same thing? Wouldn't that tell you if this is all real??
Well, actually, there is. You can experience the life and power of Jesus' resurrection yourself. You can know He is alive, and not dead. You can understand that you have an eternal home in the heavens, not made with hands, which is prepared for you. You can have certainty that your life will never end.
Jesus makes an invitation to you. He says, "Ask me!" "Seek God and see." If He is real, and if His resurrection is true, you will be faced with the most important decision of your life--will you turn to Him, or not?
It's possible that you will disdain His offer (made multiple times in Scripture), without considering whether or not it's true, but why?? If this this true, you will have the opportunity to live forever--not in an old, broken body, but in the vitality of resurrection life.
There is one catch. If you find that the resurrection is true, and that it is real, then you have a decision to make, and that decision will influence your life forever, just as it did the Apostle Paul's. You will then be personally confronted with "the two ways..." one leads to heaven and everlasting life. The other leads to everlasting destruction.
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