I had to see It to believe it

March 15th, 2021

Luke 24:36b-48

Could it really be true, we wondered? All day we had been hearing reports that Jesus was alive—but we were afraid to let ourselves believe it. After all, we had seen what they had done to him just two days before: the trials, the beating, and then the horrible death. We had watched from afar as they took his body down and gave it to Joseph for burial. But then, this morning, when Mary and Joanna and the others went to anoint Jesus’ body with spices, Jesus’ body was gone! Instead, the women saw two men in dazzling garments who told them Jesus had risen. They came running back to tell us, the disciples, and the others who were hiding in the upper room with us. At first, it seemed like an idle tale and we didn’t believe them, so Peter got up and ran to the tomb himself. Peter, too, saw the empty linen cloths and came back amazed.

Later that day, two from among us were walking to Emmaus talking about all that happened. Suddenly, another person joined them on the road, asking them about what they were discussing. Our friends told him of Jesus’ deeds and teachings, and then how Jesus had been handed over and put to death. They also told him about the strange events of the morning. Then, the man surprised them. Beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted the scriptures to them. When they arrived in the village, the person turned to go, but my friends invited him to stay the evening with them. They sat down to eat and the guest took the bread, blessed it, and broke it and gave it to them. Suddenly their eyes were opened and they realized that it was Jesus who was with them! Although it was late, they got up and hurried back to Jerusalem to tell us what they had experienced.

“The Lord has risen indeed and has appeared to Simon!” they cried.

I wanted to believe so desperately that it was true, but I still had my doubts. While we were still talking about this, suddenly Jesus appeared among us—right there before us! He spoke so calmly and gently: “Peace be with you.”

Peace be with us, hardly! We were startled and terrified—we thought it was a ghost! Some of us still didn’t understand that he had truly resurrected, others thought it was another spirit trying to deceive us. We couldn’t say a word.

Jesus continued, “Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts?” As if he knew what we were thinking, as if he knew we needed proof, he said, “Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself. Touch me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.”

None of us had the courage to touch him to know for sure, but a sense of joy and amazement was beginning to dawn among us. Yet still we wondered, could we believe? Sensing this, Jesus spoke again.

“Have you anything here to eat?”

We gave him fish—and he ate it right in front of us. Surely a spirit couldn’t eat bread with Simon and fish with us. Jesus proved to us he was real, and in that simple act, he reminded us of the miracle of the feeding of the five thousand with five loaves and two fish. Jesus had performed that miracle, could this be another one?

Then, just like Jesus had done with our friends on the road to Emmaus, he opened our hearts and minds to understand the scriptures. It was amazing. First he looked backward, talking about how everything written about him in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled. But then, Jesus also looked forward. He told us that repentance and forgiveness of sins through him was to be proclaimed to all the nations, beginning in Jerusalem and spreading from there. When I thought about it later, Jesus’ words made perfect sense. After all, the annunciation of his birth had occurred here, as had his presentation in the temple. What better place for the church to begin than here as well. Although the forgiveness of sins would be preached to all, it was to begin with Israel then spread to others. Jesus told us it was our calling to tell everyone what we had seen and experienced. The responsibility for such a task seemed overwhelming, but then Jesus said, “You are witnesses of these things. And see, I am sending upon you what my Father promised; so stay here in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”

By this time, we had learned to listen to Jesus, so we went back to Jerusalem to worship him and to reflect on what God was calling us to do. We knew that believing in his resurrection would change our lives and the lives of all of those who were touched by it.

As I’ve thought back on our time with Jesus, I’ve realized how fortunate we were. We heard him teach, saw the miracles, saw him resurrected from the dead. I don’t know if I would ever have believed if I hadn’t seen it for myself. I know many of you struggle to believe, wishing you had proof like we did. Your belief and obedience call for even greater faith. But know that you are blessed. Jesus said, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.” My prayer for you this morning is that you will receive Jesus’ blessing with great joy, that in response you will worship God with all your hearts, and that you will be open to doing what God instructs you to do. Know that the same Spirit that empowered us empowers you today. And may you go in peace as you continue on the journey.

comments powered by Disqus