If Jesus Rose from the Dead, then (#7) the Disciples and Peter Would Have Known It

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On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” John 20:19

I’ve tried to put myself in the shoes (or sandals) of the disciples.

Saturday must have been a tough day. Nothing, of course, like the arrest and crucifixion, which had to have been surreal. But Saturday seems like it would be very difficult. At this point, it is all just beginning to sink in.

Each of them had been called into Jesus’ small group. And they jumped at the chance. No one ever spoke like this Man. No one ever did anything like this Man.

He was steel and velvet.

They had seen Him go up against the Jewish authorities as if they had no authority at all. He went into the temple and wrecked the place where the sellers were and walked away untouched. They saw Him go up against the best minds and arguments of the scribes and Pharisees, the Sadducees and the teachers of the law, and the disciples heard Him as He silenced them all. 

Yet they saw Him with children and with the women and the outcasts of their culture: the lepers and the lame, the demon possessed and the infirm, the tax collectors and the prostitutes… and He did so with grace and compassion.

They saw Him endure the misjustices of His phony trial. They saw Him endure the most horrific scourging and the unspeakableness of the cross—yet He did not cry out. And they saw Him deal kindly with a thief hanging on a cross next to Him, and they heard Him ask His Father to forgive those who were torturing Him.

There was no one like this Man.

They had lived with Him for three years. They ate with Him, slept with Him, prayed with Him and ministered with Him from town to town. They saw Him turn water into wine and turn the raging sea into glass. They saw Him restore withered limbs and raise Lazarus from the dead. They saw Him feed 5,000 and they saw Him entertain Moses and Elijah as if it were no big deal.

There never was anything like this Man.

But now He was dead. Beaten, mutilated and hung on a cross to die a most miserable death. Nothing left but a lifeless body, wrapped up in a cold tomb.

It was over.

And the Sabbath must have been deathly silent… and lonely.

If someone had the right to be depressed—it was the Twelve minus one. Of all despicable things—one of their own had betrayed Him. And one of their own had denied Him—three times.

But in reality, they had all abandoned Him and now they were in mourning… more than mourning, it was a debilitating sickness in their soul. And, multiplying that was the deep fear—for they could all end up like Jesus did. At any second, the Temple guard or the Roman soldiers could show up and unspeakable agony would be their final lot.

When the first day of the week rolled around, they were still deep in their grief and fear. They awoke to another day and another realization that Jesus was no more. All the dreams they had, some even of sitting on a throne with Him—all dashed and becoming dimmer and more stupid every moment.

Peter must have been in the deepest pit. How many times had he run through all of it in his mind—how he had boldly told the Lord he would never, ever deny Him. Only to hear Jesus say that he would, and three times, no less. And Peter was sure that would never happen. And yet, it did. Oh, how could he have denied Him? How could he have been so weak? How could he have been so unfaithful to the most faithful Man he had ever known?

“Maybe, if I had stood up, been a real man, none of this would have happened. Maybe if I had gone in and argued His case… testified to all the miracles I had seen. Maybe… if only…”

Oh, the agony that must have been Peter’s.

But, then, Magdalene breaks in and says that His body has been stolen! How could things possibly get any worse?

He and John ran to the tomb and sure enough, His body was gone. Unwrapped, apparently, and taken away. Had the guards done this for some unspeakable, demented fun? Had the Pharisees taken Him? Maybe they came to burn His body or dump it in Gehenna? How could this be happening? How did it all go so sour so fast?

And then, before one could take a deep breath, the women are now back, babbling on and on about seeing Jesus! What is happening!? Everybody is going insane!

Now, a lesser Risen Man, in light of the unfaithfulness and dullness of His disciples, might have shown Himself to the women and let them simply tell the disciples. And if they didn’t believe it, well, tough luck! After pouring three years of my life into them… well, they deserved to be left in their unbelief. Good riddance, so to speak. 

Ah, but Jesus is not a lesser man. His love is a steadfast love that transcends all of our unfaithfulness and dullness of mind and heart. He perseveres when we do not. He does not forsake, though we do. 

And that evening, though the doors were locked out of fear… and though Jesus might have come and knocked on the door and they wouldn’t have let Him in… Jesus came to see them anyway. He did not come with a condemning charge against them, which they deserved, but He came with “Peace be with you.”

The four Gospels record ten separate times that Jesus was with the disciples after His resurrection. No doubt there were more, but this is all that is recorded. There are controversies and accusations about so-called contradictions in these records and we will deal with those soon, so we won’t detail all of Jesus’ appearances here. It is sufficient for our purposes to ponder that Jesus showed Himself, graciously, to those who had abandoned Him.

For me, the most priceless of these appearances, is recorded only in one place… in a short note in Luke. This is after Jesus appeared to the two Emmaus travelers and they had subsequently returned to Jerusalem:

And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem. And they found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” Luke 24:33-34

Appeared to Simon! Isn’t this something? And isn’t this so like the Lord, that he would make a special, personal appearance to Peter?

This, my friends, is the steadfast love of God. No matter how far you missed it today or yesterday or tomorrow, if you are His… then you are His. Nothing can separate you from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:31-39)

Absolutely nothing.

And so, it shouldn’t surprise us that if Jesus rose from the dead, then He would most certainly make sure His disciples, and Peter, knew it.

This is our Lord, risen indeed!

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If Jesus Rose from the Dead, then (#1) the Seal Was Broken
We don’t spend much time talking about the seal that was placed upon the tomb, but I think it is significant. Here is the historical record: The next day, that is, after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate and said, “Sir, we remember how that impostor said, while he was still alive, ‘After three days I will rise.’ Therefore order the tomb to be made secure until the third day, lest his disciples go and steal him away and tell the people, ‘He has risen from the dead,’ and the last fraud will be worse than the first.” Pilate said to them, “You have a guard of soldiers. Go, make it as secure as you can.” So they went and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone and setting a guard. Matthew 27:62-66 The historical account states that the chief priests and the Pharisees “made the tomb secure by sealing the stone…”.  This seal was most likely several ropes that were drawn across the stone and then affixed to the tomb walls with a soft clay imprinted with some symbol of authority. It was also likely that the ropes were also sealed at their juncture in front of the stone. In this way, no one could move the stone or the ropes without breaking the dried clay and destroying the “seal” affixed upon the clay.  The seal was there to “put on notice” that no one was to mess with the tomb. Rome could deal quite nastily with those who did so. Now, this doesn’t mean much to us today, for we are long past the norm of using “seals” as they were utilized in ancient times. but in those days, a seal was inviolable[1]. It represented authority, authenticity, and finality. No one messed with a seal. In the book of Esther, when King Ahasuerus issued the order to save the Jews, he commanded them to “seal it with the king's ring, for an edict written in the name of the king and sealed with the king's ring cannot be revoked.” (Esther 8:8) When Daniel was thrown into the lion’s den, “… a stone was brought and laid on the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet and with the signet of his lords, that nothing might be changed concerning Daniel." (Daniel 6:17) In the vision concerning the destruction of Jerusalem, the Scripture says this: And the vision of all this has become to you like the words of a book that is sealed. When men give it to one who can read, saying, “Read this,” he says, “I cannot, for it is sealed.” Isaiah 29:11 The permanence of a seal against all who were unauthorized to break it was an inviolable part of their world.  It becomes even more apparent when John is caught up to heaven and there beholds the scroll with seven seals. John begins to weep because there was “no one worthy to open the scroll or to look into it” (Revelation 5:4). Of course, we find that the Lamb, “standing as though it had been slain” (Revelation 5:6), was worthy to break the seals. And when each of those seals were broken, great calamity came upon the earth. Seals in the Scripture mean something. And John had wept, because the seal represented an inviolable wall to anyone who did not have the authority to break it. Seals show authority. They show authenticity. And they show finality for all except the one who had the authority to break them. And so, we now come back to the tomb. The seal, whether it was a Roman seal or the High Priest’s seal, represented a fixed closure that no one was allowed to breach. When it was set upon the tomb, there was a finality, a stamp of ultimate authority, that said, “this tomb is closed”. Ah, but God is not subject to the laws or seals of man. I can imagine that when the earth began to shake and the stone was rolled aside, that those clay seals with the authority of man impressed upon them broke into a thousand pieces and lay as trash littering the ground. If Jesus rose from the dead, then the seal of man, meant to keep Him in the grave, had been utterly and completely destroyed. But there is one more thing that must be mentioned regarding “seals”. It is important to note that God has given us this detail in the record to help substantiate the reality of the accounts of the empty tomb and the risen Lord Jesus. But it also brings our minds to something quite wonderful. In John 6:27, Jesus said this: Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.” If God seals something, it is sealed! In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, Ephesians 1:13 “… it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee. 2 Corinthians 1:21 This is God’s seal of authority, authenticity, and finality. You are His, sealed with His guarantee. Oh, my, dear brothers and sisters in Christ! How deep is the steadfast love of God that He should do such mighty things to secure us to Himself and then tell that He has put His own seal upon you and me. As David writes: “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it.” Psalm 139:6 [previous] [next]     [1]Inviolable /ĭn-vī′ə-lə-bəl/: never to be broken, infringed or dishonored; unassailable; secure from violation or assault or trespass
If Jesus Rose from the Dead, then... (#0)
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