One of the strongest evidences of the integrity of the Scriptures, as well as of the bodily resurrection of our Lord, is to be found in the incredulity of the disciples, recorded without any attempt to conceal. Their disbelief changed to a joyous assurance that in turn sent them out with a message carrying conviction and transforming power, a message for which each of them eventually died.

Would to God that we had such convictions and such Spirit-inspired messages today!

The natural man finds himself confronted with objections to the Resurrection that he cannot cope with. To him it is against scientific experience and contrary to personal experience.

Only as our hearts are touched and illuminated by the Holy Spirit are we able to see spiritual truths in their proper perspective. Only then can faith triumph over reason and the seemingly impossible become a glorious reality, the very cornerstone of our Christian hope.

The physical appearance of the resurrected Saviour caused his disciples to be “amazed.” They “trembled” at the sight and we are told that they were “afraid.”

To spiritualize the Resurrection is to violate the rules of evidence and to eliminate the basic implications of this glorious event of history.

That those who first saw the risen Christ did not recognize him involves lessons we dimly understand. His resurrection body had certain characteristics which differed from the one his disciples knew.

But it was a body and it was the same body for in it were the nail prints in hands and feet and the wound from the spear thrust into his side.

That they did not see an apparition or hallucination is made clear by our Lord: “Why are ye troubled? and why do thoughts arise in your hearts? Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.” Christ was saying this to his doubting and fearful followers.

This was a bodily resurrection and it was the first fruits of all who now sleep in anticipation of that resurrection day when He comes again.

For 40 days there were repeated contacts between the risen Christ and his disciples. They saw him, touched him, ate with him, heard him speak of the things having to do with his Kingdom. These were proofs no one could deny. Of course those who were responsible for his death spread rumors that his disciples had overpowered the guard and had taken his body away.

Then too, many who heard the preaching of the resurrection story mocked and turned away. And in every generation there are those who shrug off the story as the product of an overly-zealous following, or an imaginative amendation added to the record at a later date to enhance the influence of their contemporary group.

Then there are those who ignore the evidence of his bodily resurrection and insist that what is reported was only a thrilling spiritual experience of his disciples—an experience that may be reconstructed in the lives of Christians today.

But the experience of these early disciples cannot be re-enacted by us today. We have no opportunity to draw near and behold his hands. Nor can we reach hither our hands and thrust them into his side.

Today we accept the fact of our Lord’s bodily resurrection by faith and in no other way. And those who so do are blessed because without faith it is impossible to please God.

Looking into the future our Saviour said to Thomas: “Because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.”

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is not only an historical event but at the same time is a doctrinal cornerstone upon which rests the assurance of immortality, the effectiveness of the atonement, and the motivation for Christian witness and living.

The implications of the Cross are inexorably linked with the empty tomb, for while the death of Jesus Christ on the Cross is the central fact of all history, the reality and ultimate goal of man’s redemption is validated by the personal, bodily appearance of our Lord on the third day and for 40 days thereafter.

His appearing teaches us that the source of death is sin, and that Christ triumphed over both death and sin at Calvary so completely that the grave could not hold him. The Resurrection correlates the Cross.

The completeness of Christ’s work for sinners and the hope that we find in that work has been the motivating force for Christian witness through the ages.

The effect of their seeing and being with the risen Lord made these timid, ignorant, and (from the worldly standpoint) unprepared disciples go out to preach with mighty power and convincing eloquence—to evangelize the world and establish the church of Jesus Christ.

These men lacked one thing and their Lord went back to Heaven for the specific purpose of sending the third Person of the Trinity into the world to give them spiritual power, and to make their ministry world-wide in scope.

But God had one other servant he was preparing for a vital task, not only to be the recipient of special revelation but also to become the greatest missionary the world has ever known. This man was the archenemy of the early Church, one who persecuted even to death those who named the name of Christ.

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Whether Paul had ever seen Christ in the flesh is problematical. But on the Damascus road he met him face to face and that encounter transformed an enemy of the risen Lord and His Church into his most devoted and effective follower.

What changed Saul of Tarsus into Paul the theologian and missionary? Faith in the living Christ and obedience to the heavenly vision which was accorded him.

Of practical importance for you and me is this question: Have we met him and in faith accepted the reality of his Cross and Resurrection? It is not a question of relative importance. Our eternal destiny rests on its answer. There also does the effectiveness of our Christian living and witness rest.

We do not believe in a dead Christ. Adherents to other religions can point to the tombs, the bodily resting places of their prophets. But we Christians can point from an empty tomb to a living Saviour and to a returning Lord.

“This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.” It is the resurrected and living Lord whom we shall see with our eyes and at whose appearing we too shall be given glorified bodies.

Let us beware lest we at any time permit ourselves to rationalize away the cornerstone of our hope.

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