“I know the resurrection is a fact, and Watergate proved it to me. How? Because 12 men testified they had seen Jesus raised from the dead, then they proclaimed that truth for 40 years, never once denying it. Every one was beaten, tortured, stoned and put in prison. They would not have endured that if it weren’t true. Watergate embroiled 12 of the most powerful men in the world-and they couldn’t keep a lie for three weeks. You’re telling me 12 apostles could keep a lie for 40 years? Absolutely impossible.” Charles Colson
Heavy eyelids? Daydreaming constantly? In danger of dozing despite the fact that your desk chair is ridiculously uncomfortable? We’ve all had our days, and occasionally weeks, at work where our energy levels are extremely low. We all need a boost now and then to get our energy levels up. There are times we need a spark.
If we think our energy levels get low, imagine being a disciple of Jesus after the crucifixion. The crucifixion of Jesus Christ was certainly a traumatic and confusing event for the disciples. They had obeyed his command to “follow Him,” but where was He now? Jesus’ death was unexplainable. The disciples were in shock. They abandoned Jesus during the trials and crucifixion, instead gathering together in hiding. It had been only a week before that Jesus entered Jerusalem to cheering crowds as he rode on a donkey, in the manner of ancient kings. Where were the crowds now? What would become of them? Would they simply return to their previous lifestyle and jobs unchanged by the events of the last three years? Jesus was to be the Messiah, one who performed miracles and raised people from the dead, yet He was now dead himself. This whole series of experiences had come to an end, and with it their hope and their energy. But then all that changed. The original disciples suddenly and sincerely came to believe that Jesus was risen from the dead despite their having every predisposition to the contrary.
No one will argue that something caused some dramatic changes in the lives of Jesus’ followers. It’s undeniable. The disciples had previously been timid, afraid, and depressed after witnessing the arrest and suffering of Jesus. But after His resurrection they became aggressive, bold, and full of joy. Peter is a prime example. He was the one who had earlier denied the Lord. But after the resurrection, he stood in the temple courts defying the very men who put Jesus on the cross (Acts 4:20).
When you observe the post-resurrection disciples, you see that they were energized and full of life. Their circumstances didn’t matter. They had joy in the midst of suffering and peace in the midst of turmoil. Nothing could take away their passion for the risen Savior. In fact, the disciples suddenly came to believe so strongly that God had raised Jesus from the dead that they were willing to die for the truth of that belief. Would you have died for a lie? Would these disciples have endured such persecution for a dead man?
No. They saw the risen Lord—then gave their very lives in service to Him. They were no longer afraid of death. They were transformed, for they were serving a risen Savior. One of the greatest evidences for the resurrection is the transformation of the disciples.
Tomorrow: The implications of the resurrection.
- What objections or ideas make it difficult for you or others to believe the resurrection?
- The disciples were almost immediately transformed from men who were hopeless and fearful after the crucifixion (Luke 24:21, John 20:19) into men who were confident and bold witnesses of the resurrection (Acts 2:24, 3:15,4:2). What is your explanation for this?
- How would a life that fully embraces the truth of the resurrection look different from a life that denies it?
- Who is one person who is skeptical or doesn’t yet believe the Gospel that you are investing in? What do you think your next step is in sharing your faith with them?