Sunday, April 20, 2014

We're all Doubting Thomases, seeing is believing -- until we become a Paul

In the accounts of the Resurrection it's striking how many times the word or equivalent for seeing is used.  Over and over again to prove to a person that Jesus had risen from the dead we have accounts that describe people seeing him alive, risen.  Why are these accounts so repeated and determined to offer what we know by Faith.. Jesus is alive...

There are recorded 11 events when the Resurrected Messiah appeared to his followers and then the first appearance of Jesus to Paul on the road.

1) Mary Magdalene (Mark 16.9-11; John 20.11-18)
2) the other women at the tomb (Matthew 28.8-10)
3) Peter in Jerusalem (Luke 24.34; 1 Cor. 15.5)
4) The two travelers on the road to Emmaus (Mark 16.12,13)
5) Ten disciples behind closed doors (Mark 16.14; Luke 24.36-43; John 20.19-25)
6) All the disciples, with Thomas (excluding Judas Iscariot) (John 20.26-31; 1 Cor. 15.5)
7) Seven disciples while fishing (John 21.1-14)
8) Eleven disciples on the mountain (Matthew 28.16-20)
9) A crowd of 500 (1 Cor. 15.6)
10) Jesus' brother James (1 Cor. 15.7)
11) Those who watched Jesus ascend to heaven (Luke 24.44-49; Acts 1.3-8)
12) Least of all Paul as though he was not living in the proper time (1 Cor. 15.8-9)

It's probable that many more people saw him but it's not recorded.  There is a tradition that says that Pontius Pilate saw him after the resurrection and was converted. Later he and his wife were martyred for their faith.  No basis in fact or history.. just tradition.

I have wondered if Jesus Bar Abbas might have seen the one who died in his place... some think he grew up in a religious home... what impact would that have had?

I wondered if the rich young ruler who turned away (Whom many think was Barnabas from Cypress) had an appearance that caused him to return.

Jesus appearance changes people.  It changed the disciples.  They were martyred without complaint.  Not ONE of the 11 ever denied the resurrection even when being tortured and put to death painfully.  Seeing was believing.  You can't deny what you know to be true.

Yet it is PAUL who is most like us.  Late to the seeing.  Eyes of Faith are needed to see Jesus.  However those late are most passionate, most determined, least shakeable.  Still today a secular culture and a secular church tries to put concreteness where people who lack faith makes it necessary.  It keeps asking for proof.  Evidence. 

It is only thru the eyes of Faith Believing that you can see the Kingdom and the King.  It is only on the other side of Pentecost where the Presence of Jesus becomes concrete.  No theory.  Real.  Solid.  Substance.

Paul saw.  Stephen being stoned saw.  John at Patmos Saw. 

AND in 72 AD Caiaphas Saw... as the religious system of the old covenant was being destroyed.  Jesus told him he would and he did,  Mark 14:61-63

Now we see clearly what Jesus tried to convey in this:

Acts 1:3-11  (The Message) After his death, he presented himself alive to them in many different settings over a period of forty days. In face-to-face meetings, he talked to them about things concerning the kingdom of God. As they met and ate meals together, he told them that they were on no account to leave Jerusalem but “must wait for what the Father promised: the promise you heard from me. John baptized in water; you will be baptized in the Holy Spirit. And soon.”

When they were together for the last time they asked, “Master, are you going to restore the kingdom to Israel now? Is this the time?”

He told them, “You don’t get to know the time. Timing is the Father’s business. What you’ll get is the Holy Spirit. And when the Holy Spirit comes on you, you will be able to be my witnesses in Jerusalem, all over Judea and Samaria, even to the ends of the world.”

These were his last words. As they watched, he was taken up and disappeared in a cloud.     

He taught them on the Kingdom.  He spoke to many.  They ate together.  He was with them.  Face to Face.  YET he told them almost sternly that they were to stay until the promise of the Father came.

Yet.. we have churches led by men and women who have not yet received the promise of the Father... they can't see.  Scales on their eyes yet.  Blind leading the blind. So they try thru tradition and religion to place concreteness when only faith's substance can provide.

Tarry... it's time for the scales to be removed.

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