The last days of Jesus: the Sent One sends

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On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” (John 20:19-21)


The third day had come. The tomb was empty, just as Jesus had promised. But instead of finding the disciples rejoicing and boldly proclaiming the resurrection, we find them hiding behind a locked door, afraid of the Jewish leaders who had put Jesus to death.

And then Jesus showed up and everything changed.

“Peace be with you,” He said, holding up his hands and showing His side. And their fears were gone. Jesus’ promise was true—He had risen from the dead. This was not a hoax or an imaginary story. This was the living, breathing Son of God standing before them, who was about to tell them something important: “As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you” (John 20:21).

Now, Jesus said, they were to go and speak. They had seen with their own eyes. Jesus had won victory over sin and death; He had paid for their sins in full. And now, they—and we like them—were to go and tell the world. The Sent One became the Sender, and the world would be turned upside down.


Father, thank you for the resurrection of Jesus, and that because of this day, we have such good news to tell the world. Just as Jesus sent out His disciples to make disciples of all nations, you’ve called us to do the same. Please give us boldness to speak as we ought, to not keep the good news of Jesus’ victory over Satan, sin and death to ourselves but to share it gladly and joyfully as we worship You. Amen.


Photo via Lightstock

Raised? by Jonathan Dodson and Brad Watson

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Oftentimes Christians are accused of being too confident in their beliefs, or using “faith” as a way to shut down questions or concerns from those exploring Christianity.

There’s no room for questioning. No room doubt.

Jonathan Dodson and Brad Watson get this. They don’t want to scare off doubters or make people shy away from questions. But they do want them to be willing to do something with their doubts—find answers. Enter: Raised?: Finding Jesus by Doubting the Resurrection.

In its four easy-to-digest chapters, Dodson and Watson offer readers an engaging look at what it means for Jesus to have been raised from the dead and why it matters, beginning by challenging the foundation of modern day skepticism.

Possibility before plausibility

For many who doubt the resurrection of Jesus, the authors argue, the problem begins with their foundation: do we have a category for the supernatural? By and large, we in the West have discounted such things as impossible. So when we hear stories of miraculous events, we automatically assume there has to be a natural explanation for them. The flood account in Genesis, the parting of the Red Sea, the virgin birth… you name it, there’s a naturalistic alternative.

But those who are truly looking for answers need to ask, “Is this position truly open-minded?”

It certainly seems biased and closed off to possibilities we may not have personally experienced. Shouldn’t we at least be open to the possibility of Jesus rising from the dead? In fact, many are willing to believe in the supernatural teachings of Buddha, Vishnu, and Eckhart Tolle, but what about Jesus? If we are to consider fairly the plausibility of the resurrection—whether it happened or not we must begin with its possibility. (19)

This is so important for those investigating the Christian faith to understand—if you’ve already discounted the miraculous, you’re going to be profoundly disappointed with Christianity, because it hinges on a miracle.

 

At the risk of belaboring the point (which itself is the foundation of the first chapter of Raised?, not the entirety of the book), we need to have to get this straight: If Jesus was not raised from the dead, Christians are to be pitied above all others because we’ve put our hope in something untrue (1 Cor. 15:19). And worse, if what we’ve put our hope in is a lie or a delusion, then we’re doing terrible evil to others by encouraging them to believe it, too.

But if we’re right, and the resurrection is true, it changes everything.

What the resurrection really means

The remaining three chapters of the book offer a look into the implications of the resurrection and how we move from doubt to belief:

  • Chapter two is an overview of the big story of the Bible using the “Creation, Fall, Redemption, Consummation” paradigm (which is essential in a book geared toward non-Christians).
  • Chapter three examines what faith really is.
  • Chapter four looks at what happens when we trust in Jesus.

Each of these chapters is filled with solid, helpful material. Probably my favorite element of the three comes from the third chapter, where the authors press in a bit more on the nature of doubt. Doubt, they argue, isn’t the lack of belief—it’s just the belief in something else:

In his observations of pluralistic societies, Lesslie Newbigin noted that “doubt is not an autonomous activity.” What he means is that doubt is not self-sufficient—it cannot exist on its own. Doubt does not live in a vacuum. It is propped up by faith in something else. To doubt one thing is to have faith in another.… if you put your faith in one company or spouse, you are—at the same time—expressing doubt in other companies or potential spouses. You are doubtful they are the best possible fit, uncertain they are the one for you. Meanwhile, you have faith in the other company or spouse. To put it another way, if you doubt one thing, it’s because you believe in another. (61-62)

Can you tell discussion of doubt made an impression on me? The reason for that is simple: this discussion really is the strongest element of Raised.

There are a lot of excellent books dealing with the evidence side of the argument, but few address the epistemological side of it. How we know something and what we can know to be true is critical for us to deal with when faced with a generation that’s uncertain of what can be known at all. But Raised? offers a thoughtful and welcome apologetic for a newer generation of doubters. If you’re looking for a helpful outreach resource for your church or a book to give to an unbelieving neighbor, you’d do well with this one.


Title: Raised?: Finding Jesus by Doubting the Resurrection
Authors: Jonathan Dodson and Brad Watson
Publisher: Zondervan (2014)

Buy it at: Amazon

New Easter devotional: The Last Days of Jesus

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The events of Easter are among the most important in the Christian faith—the death and resurrection of Jesus, which brought about the end of our separation from God and gave those who believe the promise of new life!

To help Christians prepare to celebrate Jesus’ victory over sin and death, I’ve written a new devotional in partnership with Compassion Canada,1 The last days of Jesus: eight readings through the death and resurrection of Jesus.


Download the devotional


There are a couple of ways you can read these devotionals:

  1. Download the PDF and read at home (print it out or view it on your eReader).
  2. Visit here or at compassion.ca from April 13–April 20, 2014, to read the latest entry.

I pray these devotional readings will be a blessing to all who read them as you prepare your hearts to celebrate the good news of Easter. Enjoy!

Links I like

Fred Phelps and the Anti-Gospel of Hate

Albert Mohler:

Fred Phelps became infamous due to one central fact — he was a world-class hater. He brought great discredit to the Gospel of Christ because his message was undiluted hatred packaged as the beliefs of a church. Even Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center referred to Westboro Baptist Church as “this so-called church.” The damage was due to the fact that his platform for hatred was called a church. That provided the watching and listening world with a ready target and case study for the accusation that Christian conviction on questions of sexual morality is nothing more than disguised hatred for homosexuals. And, like radioactivity, Fred Phelps’ hatred will survive in lasting half-lives of animus.

Flee youthful passions

Ray Ortlund:

In this world of blatant, horrible wrongs, it is not hard to get angry.  It is hard not to get angry.  But “the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”  It just doesn’t.  Because it can’t.  No matter how right the cause is, the anger of man only makes things worse.  Sometimes the youthful don’t see how clever evil is, how easy it is for us to add to evil while intending good, how hard it is for us to be angry and not sin and complicate things further.  Exposing and confronting wrongs — real wrongs with real victims — is good, but not simple.  Not for us.  What is simple is creating more victims by rushing to judgment with guns ablazing and a golden heart pursuing a noble cause.

The Problem With Victory Focus

Mike Leake:

There is a difference between obedience and victory.

In my mind I picture a team of solider bunkered down behind enemy lines. They are mostly surrounded by enemies and at the point of frustration and despair; death seems certain. Then a most wonderful word is transmitted to them—a decisive victory has been won and rescue is coming. They are given instructions on how to do battle while they await ultimate rescue.

Was Jesus Still God in the Tomb?

David Murray:

Yes, it was right to worship Jesus as God in the womb, in the manger, on the breast, at play, in school, in the workshop, in the court, and on the cross; but in the tomb? Surely not. Jesus was in heaven for these few days, His human soul still united to His divine nature, rightly being worshipped there for His saving work of suffering and dying for sinners. Yes, that worship is theologically sound and totally appropriate. But was Jesus not also on a cold slab of rock in a Middle Eastern cave? Yes, He was. While His human soul was separated from His body, His divine nature was separated from neither and never will be. His divine nature was as united to His lifeless body on earth as it was to His glorified soul in heaven. That means I can worship Him equally in the grave as in glory!

Justin Taylor offers a very interesting counterpoint here.

How Should We Understand this Promise of Jesus?

R.C. Sproul Jr. on Jesus’ promise in John 14:14, “if you ask anything in my name I will do it”:

But what about when we are asking for things we know God would approve of? In my home I and the children pray nightly that God would be pleased to help us to grow in grace and wisdom. What we are seeking is that we would be made fully into the image of Christ, that our sanctification would be complete. That sounds like a good thing to ask in Jesus name. Second, every night we pray that God would be pleased to magnify His name by rising up and protecting all the unborn in Orlando, Florida, these United States, and around the world. How could that not be a prayer in His name? And yet, thus far our prayers have not been answered.

Captivated by Thabiti Anyabwile

captivated_anyabwileAbout a year ago, I bought a new laptop, and the first time I turned it on it was magical. Well, maybe not, but it was pretty slick. It went super-fast, did everything I needed it to do… Then, a few months later, my new work computer arrived. And I started feeling a little bit of regret over my personal one. The “shininess” of my computer had worn off and it seemed kind of, well, average. It wasn’t nearly as rad in my eyes as it had been when I opened the box for the first time.

I wonder if some of us see the Easter story that way. We’ve heard so many sermons on it—or preached so many—that it seems like we’re going through the motions. We say, “yay, Jesus is alive,” but really we’re thinking “alright, and now to run some errands!” This should never be. Woe to us who can look upon the death and resurrection of Jesus and say, “meh.”

Thabiti Anyabwile is a man who has not lost his sense of wonder at the cross. He knows that beholding the glory of Jesus is something none of us can do without. This is the heart behind his latest book, Captivated: Beholding the Mystery of Jesus’ Death and Resurrection.

In its five chapters (which originated as sermons preached at First Baptist Church, Grand Cayman) Anyabwile invites us to behold the wonder of the cross as he examines several key passages of Scripture:

  • Jesus’ prayer in the garden (Matthew 26:42);
  • Jesus’ cry from the cross (Matthew 27:42);
  • Paul’s rejoicing over death’s impotence in the face of Christ’s victory (1 Cor. 15:50-58);
  • The angels’ matter-of-fact questioning of the disciples at the empty tomb (Luke 24:5); and
  • Cleopas’ gentle rebuke to his new travelling companion along the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:18)

“Is there no other way?”

Almost all of us at some point have asked the question, “is there no other way?” When we look at the cross, and all the events that lead up to it, we can’t help but wonder if God could have done things differently. If you’ve ever asked the question, fear not: you’re in good company. Jesus asked the same one as he prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane.

“My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.… if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.” (Matthew 26:39, 42)

Here is the Lord Jesus—the One who was with God and was God from eternity past—asking if He had to go to the cross. Jesus wanted the cup to pass. But more importantly, He wanted the Father’s will to be done. So, could it pass from Him? No. And this is such good news, Anyabwile reminds us. In fact, we should be glad the Father said no. He writes:

Because the Father answered no, sinners have a merciful and faithful High Priest perfectly intimate with all their weaknesses. We have One we can approach for grace. Because the Father answered no, we have One who stands between us in all our ungodliness and God in all His holiness to reconcile us and reunite us as friends rather than rebels. Because the Father answered no, those who have faith in Christ need never fear the Father’s wrath again; His anger has been fully satisfied in the Son’s atonement. Because the Father said no, we stand assured that our acceptance with God happened on completely legitimate grounds—no parlor tricks, no loopholes, no legal fiction, no injustice to threaten or question the exchange of our sin for Jesus’ righteousness. Because the Father said no, we will forever enjoy and share the glory of Father and Son in the unending, timeless age to come.

I am so glad the Father said no.

Insightful, gospel-saturated meditations

Do you see the good news here? Anyabwile doesn’t resort to cheap parlor tricks or emotional platitudes to whoop readers up. Instead, he presents the gospel in all its glory. Over and over again, on page after page, the gospel shines through. And as you read the book, you can’t help but be caught up by its sermonic rhythm (appropriate, since it began as sermons). This makes for a captivating and fast-paced read—to some degree, almost a too fast one!

Indeed, that might be my only complaint about this book. Because it’s a series of gospel meditations, readers should not expect an in-depth treatise on any of the texts examined, which would work against Anyabwile’s purposes anyway. But this is not to say that deeper examination and application isn’t encouraged—it’s just left in your hands, thanks to the book’s reflection questions (which you really need to use—they add so much to the reading experience!).

Because we’re constantly inundated with “new,” we risk becoming a people who fail to take the time to enjoy what really matters. The gospel should never be something we move past, or shrug our shoulders at. This just won’t do. Whether you’ve struggled with familiarity or you’re consistently amazed at the cross, Captivated is a book that will be a great blessing to you.


Title: Captivated: Beholding the Mystery of Jesus’ Death and Resurrection
Author: Thabiti Anyabwile
Publisher: Reformation Heritage Books (2014)

Buy it at: Westminster Books | Amazon

Seven Miles

From Matt Chandler’s sermon, “The Call to Mission:”

Download to the full message or listen here (if the audio’s working):

An excerpt from the transcript:

“That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them.” Jesus kept up with them for seven miles. Let me tell you why this is important. The resurrection of Christ historically causes a lot of trouble for the secular mind. So there’s all these theories about how do deal with it. One of the theories is that when they arrested Him, beat Him a dozen times, yanked the beard out of His face, drove nails through His hands and feet, after they yanked the skin off His back and left Him hanging there for six hours and then took a spear and drove it under His ribcage through His lungs and back out, spilling and water all over the cross, maybe they didn’t kill Him.The theory is that they put Him into the ground, and two days later He’s jogging to Emmaus with two guys seven miles after being crucified and beaten for close to 20 hours. That’s ridiculous. You’d have to be an idiot to believe that theory. I’m not trying to offend you. Have you ever broken a toe and tried to walk without looking like your hips have exploded inside of your pelvis? And the historical Discovery Channel theory is that, two days after this unbelievable beating, Jesus is walking to Emmaus for seven miles. That’s just silly. So for all the goofiness that is Christianity, that’s right up there with the dumbest things you could say we believe. It’s silly to believe that, two days after having your full body weight bear down on a nail driven through the center of both of your feet, you’re jogging a seven mile jaunt to Emmaus.

Around the Interweb

Is There Historical Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus?

Insightful videos featuring Dr. William Lane Craig:

 

HT: Justin Taylor

Also Worth Reading

Controversy: Adrian Warnock had a face-to-face conversation with Rob Bell about Love Wins. It’s a very interesting listen (albeit incredibly frustrating at times).

Easter: Jesus and the Martyrs

Business Ethics: The 4 P’s of Business

The Persecuted Church in China“If This is What God Intended, So Be It”

In Case You Missed It

Here are a few of this week’s notable posts:

He Will Be Holy To Make You Holy

Book Review: Redemption by Mike Wilkerson

Fully, Finally, Unquestionably, and Irrevocably Vindicated

The Power of The Resurrection

Only If A Substitute is Provided

Let the Law, Sin, and the Devil Cry Out Against Us

The Power of The Resurrection

The grotto of Gethsemane, where it is believed that Jesus was arrested following Judas' betrayal. Photo by Gary Hardman

For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—that I may know him and the power of his resurrection and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. (Phil 3:8b-11)

Good Friday looms and I can’t get Phil 3:8b-11 out of my mind. When Paul writes of having lost everything—absolutely everything—for the sake of Christ, he’s not playing around. He went from, by his own account, being a star on the rise among the Pharisees to one of the most hated men among the Jews of his time. Everywhere he went, he faced dramatic opposition, and was even stoned and left for dead (then he got back up and was preaching the next day—see Acts 14:19-20).

Paul went from persecuting Christians to planting churches. The Church’s greatest opponent became her strongest advocate.

What was it that motivated his single-minded pursuit of the righteousness that comes through faith in Christ? The power of the resurrection.

Paul wanted to know Christ and the power of the resurrection—which meant that he had to share in his suffering. Suffering that, if the resurrection weren’t real, would have been unbearable.

If the resurrection didn’t happen, what reason would Paul have had to turn his back on his promising career among the Pharisees?

If the resurrection didn’t happen, what reason would he have had to say, “I consider it all rubbish?”

If the resurrection didn’t happen, what reason would he have had to say, “For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain?”

What reason would he have had to endure beatings, starvation, imprisonment, character assassination and ship wrecks?

Nothing.

No reason.

Sometimes people wonder if a literal resurrection actually matters. Would we lose anything if Jesus was raised spiritually or just in the hearts of his followers, some ask. Paul’s testimony and Paul’s contention in the book of Philippians answers that with a resounding “Yes!”

If there were no real, physical resurrection from the dead, Paul would not have been able to endure any of this. No one would.

Without the resurrection, we lose everything. And all we have left is rubbish.

Fully, Finally, Unquestionably, and Irrevocably Vindicated

The grotto of Gethsemane, where it is believed that Jesus was arrested following Judas' betrayal. Photo by Gary Hardman

If Christ had remained dead like any other “savior” or “teacher” or “prophet,” his death would have meant nothing more than yours or mine. Death’s waves would have closed over him just as they do over every other human life, every claim he made would have sunk into nothingness, and humanity would still be without hope of being saved from sin. But when breath entered his resurrected lungs again, when resurrection life electrified his glorified body, everything Jesus claimed was fully, finally, unquestionably, and irrevocably vindicated. Paul exults in Romans 8 over Jesus’ resurrection and what it means for believers:

Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. (Rom. 8:33–34)

What an amazing thought—that the man Jesus now sits in splendor at the right hand of his Father in heaven, reigning as the King of the universe! Not only so, but he is even now interceding for his people, even as we await his final and glorious return.

Greg Gilbert, What Is the Gospel? (p. 68)

Did the Resurrection Happen… Really? By McDowell and Sterrett

In the first two books of their Coffee House Chronicles series, authors Josh McDowell and Dave Sterrett introduced us to a group of students (and a couple of instructors) who, together,  go on a journey through the evidence surrounding the reliability of the Bible and the truth of Jesus Christ’s identity.

At the end of book two, Who Was Jesus… Really?, Nick’s friend Andrea had placed her trust in Christ has Lord and Savior—as did Dr. Peterson, Nick’s professor who had spent much of his life and career casting doubt upon the reliability of the New Testament accounts and the person and work of Jesus Christ. So powerfully convinced was he that he held a lecture recanting of his former positions against Christ and detailing the evidence for His existence and the truth of His divinity.

The final book of the series starts off with a bang (literally) as, in the wake of Dr. Peterson’s lecture on the deity of Christ, tension on campus is at an all time high. Dr. Peterson and Jamal Washington began receiving death threats, but ultimately believed it to be nothing more than someone blowing smoke—until one day, when Brett (a pre-med student and member of the school’s atheist club) travels to Dr. Peterson’s office to talk more about Jesus.

As he approaches the building, he sees students begin to run out in a panic. A young woman collapses on the lawn, her shirt covered in blood. Someone had opened fire on the Religious Studies building. In the end, nine people were killed, including Jamal Washington, Nick Ridley (two primary characters in the first two books) and the shooter himself.

In the wake of this tragedy, Dr. Peterson, Mina, Andrea and Jessica begin a series of conversations with Brett, Lauren and Scott about one of the most central issues of the Christian faith:

Did the Resurrection Happen . . . Really?

It’s fair to say that the resurrection of Jesus Christ is the issue upon which the entire Christian faith stands or falls. “[I]f Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins,” wrote the Apostle Paul in 1 Cor. 15:17. Because Christ died on the cross to pay for our sins, His literal, physical resurrection is a sign of God’s vindication of Him (for the Jews believed that one who was crucified was cursed of God). As the authors put it, “Without the resurrection, Christianity doesn’t work” (p. 27). [Read more…]

Book Review: Scandalous by D.A. Carson

“Nothing is more central to the Bible than Jesus’ death and resurrection,” writes D.A. Carson in the preface to Scandalous: The Cross and Resurrection of Jesus. “The entire Bible pivots on one weekend in Jerusalem about two thousand years ago.”

Based on his lecture series A Day with Dr. Don from 2008, Scandalous is Carson’s “modest attempt . . . to provide an introductory explanation of the cross and resurrection,” as he looks at what five passages of Scripture have to teach us about this central point of the Christian faith.

Scandalous is broken into five chapters, based on Carson’s original lectures. His careful exposition of each passage is packed with wisdom as he reminds readers the importance of the cross and resurrection.

The Ironies of the Cross (Matthew 27:27-51a)

One usually doesn’t think of irony being a part of Jesus’ crucifixion; yet, it’s clear that the events of the crucifixion are profoundly ironic. “In the passage before us, Matthew unfolds what takes place as Jesus is crucified—but he does so by displaying four huge ironies that show attentive readers what is really going on,” writes Carson (p. 15).

Carson identifies the following four ironies in the crucifixion:

  1. The man who is mocked as King is the King
  2. The man who is utterly powerless is powerful
  3. The man who can’t save himself saves others
  4. The man who cries out in despair trusts God

I really appreciated the way that Carson explained the final of these in particular. Why did Jesus cry out “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matt. 27:46)

Is it out of self-pity? Had He abandoned His trust in the Father?

No, argues Carson. It’s none of these things. Jesus cried out in despair so that we will never have to. Jesus understood what was going to happen on the cross. But He cried out so that “for all eternity [we] will not have to” (p. 36). It’s a powerful expression of His love for us.

The Center of the Whole Bible (Romans 3:21-26)

This chapter is a powerful exposition on justification and the amazing love of God shown in the doctrine of penal substitutionary atonement.

“You must not think that God stands over against us while Christ stands for us, as if Father and Son are somehow at odds, so that the Father takes it out on his Son. God demonstrates his love by Sending Christ. This is bound up with the very nature and mystery of the incarnation and the Trinity. This is the triune God’s plan,” explains Carson.

Do you want to see the greatest evidence of the love of God? Go to the cross. Do you want to see the greatest evidence of the justice of God? Go to the cross. It is where wrath and mercy meet. Holiness and peace kiss each other. The climax of redemptive history is the cross. (p. 70)

And it’s by this cross that we can persevere in the face of tremendous opposition.

The Strange Triumph of a Slaughtered Lamb (Revelation 12)

Chapter three looks at the cross from the apocalyptic view of Revelation. Satan has been cast out of heaven and has no standing before God by which to accuse God’s people.  A redeemer—the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world—has risen and Satan is furious.

“Satan is full of rage not because he is spectacularly strong, but because he knows that he is defeated, his end is in sight, the range of his operations is curtailed—and he is furious,” writes Carson. But Christians can stand against him by the blood of the Lamb. We fight the Evil One not with swords and weapons of this world, or by political maneuverings, but by preaching the Gospel and living in light of it.

Retain courage and integrity in the face of opposition, because death cannot frighten those who follow the Prince of Life—and thereby defeat the accuser of the brothers and sisters. (p. 109)

A Miracle Full of Surprises (John 11:1-53)

But death remains the last stronghold. It is our last enemy. Our eternal life begins the moment we are saved by Christ, but our bodies will still feel the effect of sin. And its presence outrages Jesus.

But the solution is not to despair, but to look to Christ who gives eternal life—by dying Himself. Who shows us His love by delay; and who shows us his sovereignty over death in tears and outrage.

This chapter reminds us that there we can have hope because death does not have the last word. But Jesus does.

Doubting the Resurrection of Jesus (John 20:24-31)

The book’s final chapter provided me with a greater appreciation for the Apostle Thomas. Typically when this passage is discussed, Thomas gets a bad rap. He’s “doubting Thomas,” caught on his bad day, perhaps. Oh, how he must be kicking himself over doubting the resurrection, we think.

But this is not so. His doubt, it seems, was perfectly reasonable. He did not want to succumb to gullibility, to have the wool pulled over his eyes, suggests Carson. But what does Jesus mean when he says, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29).

Jesus says that those who have not seen and yet believed are blessed. Why?  Because they have believed without any evidence at all? No, of course not.

John immediately goes on to say that Jesus did many miraculous signs, and of course they could not all be written down for us. But these are written, the ones in John’s Gospel, including the appearance to Thomas, in order that later generations who will never see the signs, who will not in this life see the resurrected body of Jesus, might believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing they may have life through his name. (p. 166)

Carson explains that Thomas becomes part of the chain of evidence for the validity of the claim to Jesus’ resurrection. And “[l]ike Thomas, because of Thomas, they believe, they have eternal life, and they are blessed.”

Were it not for Thomas’ reasonable doubt, we would not have this recorded evidence, and I’m grateful to have been given a deeper understanding of this Apostle.

Scandalous!

“Do you believe? Or do you find yourself among the millions who begin to glimpse what the cross is about and dismiss the entire account as scandalous?” asks Carson.

A living-and-dying-and-living God? A God who stands over against us in wrath and who loves us anyway? A cross where punishment is meted out by God and borne by God? Scandalous! (p. 70)

The cross and resurrection of Jesus is scandalous. It kills our pride. It devastates our sense of spiritual self-sufficiency. But it offers us the greatest hope we could ever ask for.

Read this book slowly and savor the scandal of the cross and resurrection of Jesus.


Title: Scandalous: The Cross and Resurrection of Jesus
Author: D.A. Carson
Publisher: Crossway/RE:Lit (2010)

Sin is Defeated, Yet Sin Remains to be Fought

For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.

Ephesians 1:15-23

Preaching from Ephesians 1:15-23, John Piper shared a powerful message called The Immeasurable Greatness of His Power Toward Us. Verse 18 above tells us that Paul prays for believers to have “the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you;” that they may know “the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe” (v. 19).

But as Piper points out, sometimes it seems like we’re not walking in this reality. Rather than experiencing this power in our lives now and rejoicing it it, we are hindered by a spiritual dullness.

The transcript of the video follows:

Because of this spiritual dullness, we are not fully aware of the blinding, deadening power of sin that is now being conquered in our lives by God’s superior power. If you are feeling healthy, you will be thrilled with the power of your medicine, only if you know the deadly power of the disease it is holding back. If you are forgiven and have any measure of victory over sin in your life, you will be amazed at the power of God, only if you know the indescribable depth and power of sin. [Read more…]

Around the Interweb (04/04)

7 Miles

Matt Chandler explains why the idea that Jesus didn’t really die on the cross is ridiculous:

In other news

The Ten Most Surprising Things About the iPad (via Z)

Jared Wilson shares “10 big reasons why Easter giveaways are a FAIL

Wisdom, Complexity and Chilling the Heck Out

In Case You Missed It

Here are a few of this week’s notable posts:

An interview with Adrian Warnock, author of Raised with Christ

“Too Staggering a claim to remain neutral” – Mark Driscoll and Gerry Breshears on the Resurrection

Maybe the problem is we’re not frightened enough

Martyn Lloyd-Jones on the dishonesty of unbelief

Go to Dark Gesthemane

The grotto of Gethsemane, where it is believed that Jesus was arrested following Judas' betrayal. Photo by Gary Hardman

Go to Dark Gesthemane is a hymn written by James Montgomery that takes us from Christ’s “dark night of the soul” in the garden of Gesthemane through His death, burial and resurrection.

As Christians around the world celebrate the resurrection of Jesus today, these lyrics serve as a potent reminder of why the gospel truly is Good News.

Go to dark Gethsemane, ye that feel the tempter’s power;
Your Redeemer’s conflict see, watch with Him one bitter hour,
Turn not from His griefs away; learn of Jesus Christ to pray.

See Him at the judgment hall, beaten, bound, reviled, arraigned;
O the wormwood and the gall! O the pangs His soul sustained!
Shun not suffering, shame, or loss; learn of Christ to bear the cross.

Calvary’s mournful mountain climb; there, adoring at His feet,
Mark that miracle of time, God’s own sacrifice complete.
“It is finished!” hear Him cry; learn of Jesus Christ to die.

Early hasten to the tomb where they laid His breathless clay;
All is solitude and gloom. Who has taken Him away?
Christ is risen! He meets our eyes; Savior, teach us so to rise.

HT: Challies