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The Problem Of Jesus’ Resurrection

Have you ever wondered why Jesus’ listeners were slow to understand that He was God in an earthsuit? First of all, it simply wasn’t God’s time for Him to be recognized (Matt. 26:18; Mk. 1:15; et al). When Peter identified Jesus as God’s Son, "Jesus said to him…flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven…" (Matt. 16:17). God withheld this revelation from the masses until Pentecost when He equipped Peter to preach his famous sermon (Acts 2: 14ff). Sometime before or during this sermon the Holy Spirit opened the minds of thousands. They were converted without the choir’s singing "Just as I Am."

The man has never lived who was smart enough to understand spiritual truth via "leaning on his own understanding." God put the fix on this (1 Cor. 2:11). Comprehending spiritual truth apart from depending totally upon God’s Spirit to reveal it to you is like trying to work a jigsaw puzzle while the dog munches the pieces that fell on the carpet. We can either trust the Holy Spirit to reveal spiritual truth to us or spend our years feasting on those non-nutritional scraps with the dog.

Understanding the truth helps us attain the sense of security that we all crave. Humans initiate a search for truth even while in the womb (I feel safe and secure in here). We construct what we believe to be a "truth" screen over our mind somewhat like the face mask that competitive fencers use to protect them from injury and we evaluate the unfamiliar by filtering it through our screen. If it passes through we incorporate it into our screen, if not we reject it. Remember how you puzzled over the reality of Santa Claus? For years you naívely received the lies that he flew over town in a sleigh, slid down chimneys and yet stayed clean, etc. As you matured you discovered your error and reconfigured your "truth" screen.

Last Christmas we were reminiscing and Pres shared how the truth about Santa dawned on him. It happened as he contemplated Granddaddy’s fireplace. He’d figured out that the opening in the flue was way too small for that round man and his toy sack to make it. Pres had reached a maturity level where the Santa fable would no longer pass through the mesh in his truth screen so he reconfigured it on the spot. (Jump back, Loretta! The boy’s normal!)

Let’s apply this to Jesus’ resurrection. Say you lived back in Jesus’ day. Your truth screen would have dictated that God had you on a performance-based-acceptance not a Jesus-based-acceptance, that He allowed only three strikes including foul tips, that He’d toast anyone who touched the ark of the covenant, that the Pharisees were His favorites so they didn’t even have to hold day jobs, that the Messiah would overthrow the oppressive Roman rule, etc. Then Jesus appears and you hear His radical teaching. He says the Pharisees are not God’s favorites, but His enemies! That you must be "pure in heart" in order to see God; must be "poor in spirit" and "hunger for righteousness" to make it with Him, all of which looked impossible! Jesus’ teachings would have ricocheted off your "truth" screen like hail off a tin roof. Because some said He was God’s Messiah you would’ve weighed His teachings with even greater intensity because you sensed that He understood mysterious spiritual things and you craved eternal life (Jn. 6: 68). That would have been the Holy Spirit working on you.

The reason that the truths of our Savior’s identity and resurrection are real and precious to us in our day is not that we’re so sharp, but that the Holy Spirit gave us the ability to comprehend spiritual truth at salvation (2 Cor. 3:14). It’s by God’s grace and mercy alone that our truth screens were reconfigured to receive the understanding that Jesus is alive and that He is God’s Christ. When you read about the crowds that sat under Jesus’ teaching looking at Him like a deer in headlights, guard your heart against being judgmental of their dullness. His teaching bounced off their screens because they had yet to be born again! So instead think, "There, but for the grace of God go I. I’d have been just as blind as they were. Thank You, Lord, for your marvelous grace and mercy to me. Thank You that I live on this side of the cross instead of when the yet-to-be-crucified-and-resurrected Jesus walked the earth."

Unregenerate man’s screen can’t accommodate a person’s being resurrected. This was true in Jesus’ day and it’s still true today. After Jesus was raised Mary ran and brought the good news to the disciples, but "when they heard that He was alive, and had been seen by her, they refused to believe it" (Mk. 16:11). Why, for heaven’s sake? Let’s summarize:

#1. Their old "truth" screens blocked God’s truth from being embraced by their minds. Jesus had not yet been crucified, buried, raised, ascended, and then sent the Holy Spirit to indwell us. Even His disciples had unregenerate, darkened minds. That’s why their response to His teaching was often, "Huh?" Prior to Jesus’ finished work at Calvary it wasimpossible for a person to get born again. So the veil that blocked man’s ability to understand spiritual truth was still firmly in place, "…the same veil remains unlifted, because it is removed in Christ" (2 Cor. 3:14b). Resurrection truth bounced off their screens like a rubber ball until the Holy Spirit reconfigured their screens in Acts II.

#2. As stated previously it wasn’t God’s time for Jesus to be recognized. You might say that God had Jesus walk the earth for thirty-three years incognito. Even Jesus’ sibs were unaware of who He was. Only a few knew His true identity and this was only by revelation. They didn’t figure it out on their own. God withheld the revelation of Jesus’ identity from the rest of the world until He peeled the screenwire off seekers’ minds at Pentecost. Oh, how blessed we are to live in our day instead of in Jesus’ day! (for more on this read Bill’s book What God Wishes Christians Knew About Christianity)

So don’t be surprised if an unregenerate person is slow to accept Jesus’ glorious resurrection as truth. It’s simply that God’s truth is bouncing off of his screen. But, take heart! The Holy Spirit specializes in reconfiguring screens that can accommodate the truth about Jesus Christ. Trust the Holy Spirit to do so as you share Christ with a friend. Be loving and patient. Remember…you and I would also be living in darkness had He not melted our screens. Thank You, King Jesus!

About the Author

Bill founded Lifetime Guarantee Ministries to encourage people to experience the reality of Christ as life. His transparent, humorous, down-to-earth style and sense of humor made him one of the most effective teachers of his time. He communicated with great clarity the full extent of what God accomplished in Christ and what that means for the Christian identity. Although Bill passed away in June 2011, his messages are timeless and will continue to impact generations to come.