Looking at the resurrection stories is a study in human weakness. None of Jesus’ followers believed He would rise from the dead. Even Mary Magdalene, who perhaps loved Jesus more than anyone else, went to the tomb on that Sunday morning with no expectation except to prepare the dead body of Jesus for the long process of decomposition.
Peter had denied Him, the other disciples had scattered and all were hiding in fear of the Romans and Jewish leaders. The Gospel stories document their cowardice and unbelief. In spite of Jesus telling them repeatedly that He would suffer and die and then rise after three days, no one was waiting at the tomb for Him to step out alive.
The story of the resurrection is about Jesus conquering death but it is also about the recovery of faith and confidence in the lives of his followers. There were three kinds of people who struggled with the idea of Jesus coming back from the dead in these ancient accounts and today there are still three types of people who struggle with the idea of Jesus being alive and reigning as the King and Lord of all.
- The Skeptical Doubter: The claims of Jesus and the Bible are false, irrational and unscientific.
- The Safe Observer: They admire and respect Jesus as a teacher, prophet and miracle worker, but cannot accept that He was and is much more than an impressive religious figure.
- The Disappointed Believer: They started out strong but have faltered. They are stuck and unable to get back to where they once were.
The resurrection directly challenges and answers the questions of all three types of people. For the doubter, there is compelling evidence and proof of the resurrection in the remarkable changes that took place in the lives of His followers. They went from failed believers to bold witnesses who fearlessly proclaimed that Jesus was alive!
The safe observer is compelled to realize that simply admiring Jesus is not enough. The resurrection testifies that Jesus is more than just another teacher or prophet. In the words of Peter and John, “There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12 (NLT)
The disappointed believer can take heart in recognizing that God has done some of his best work through people who recovered from failures of faith. Rather than looking for super-saints, God is perfectly willing to use people who wrestle with discouragement and unbelief. Peter is one of the best examples of this.
There are still stones that need to be rolled away from the hearts of people who are skeptics, people who play it safe and people who feel disqualified. Do any of these descriptions fit you? Then you are a candidate for your own encounter with Jesus and the power that raised Him from the dead. He still moves stones and that includes yours!
Miracles still happen!