September 26th, Day 39 - John 20:1-10
Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; – John 20:8
Imagine what was racing through the mind of Jesus’ disciples that day. The unbelievable happened! The unimaginable had taken place! The unexplainable was revealed. Jesus had risen!
How does this bring you new life, new hope, new joy today?
Takeshi and I have been married for almost 28 years. We talk about it beginning after he stayed with my parents for a month, but actually, we were introduced to each other, and even worked together, much earlier. For us, it was not love at first sight, and we certainly did not understand how significant our relationship would become.
In a similar way, people respond differently when they first hear of the reality of the risen Jesus. For some, it is difficult to grasp, and they may ponder it quietly or go immediately to share their reaction with others. Some believe right away, and others need something more. It is hard for many of us to understand the significance of our relationship with Jesus when we first hear about, or encounter, Him. It takes time for our relationship, and understanding of who Jesus is, to grow. You can see this in the different reactions of Mary, Peter and John mentioned here.
Regardless of our reactions and lack of understanding, Jesus understands and patiently loves and waits for each of us. He conquered death and invites us to life now and forever with Him.
How will you respond?
Let’s look to what God wants to say directly to you today through John 20:1-10.
Scripture: What verses are capturing your attention? How so?
Observation: What do you notice about the process of believing in Jesus here? Which came first: understanding what the Scriptures were talking about or believing that Jesus is who He says He is?
Application: Where do you find yourself currently: a running disciple? A confused disciple? Astonished? Exhausted? Tortured? Relieved? Where might God be wanting you to trust that Jesus is still alive today in your own life?
Prayer: Invite Jesus to resurrect those areas of your heart where you are needing to experience His light and resurrection. Allow Jesus to shine His light on any area so that you can experience the life-giving power of the living Savior.
God provided us with many great reasons why we can trust Jesus truly did rise from the dead! Here are some arguments for the historical validity of Jesus Christ’s resurrection. If you'd like to watch a short video about this topic, click here.
1. The resurrection narratives were written with historical accuracy as a high value.
The earliness of these accounts (Mark 15:33-16:8, Matthew 27:45-28:20, Luke 22:44-24:53, John 19:28-21:25), at a time when hostile witnesses were present, would have made a fabrication unlikely and dangerous. There is agreement on the main facts and great variety in the witnesses given. Typically, testimonies of several different witnesses, each reporting from his own particular vantage point, provide the strongest possible evidence when the testimonies contain superficial contradictions that resolve themselves upon closer and more careful examination.
2. The Apostle Paul’s life and ministry is a strong witness to the truth of the resurrection.
Read Acts 9:1-22 and Philippians 3:4-8. When Paul met the resurrected Christ, he was Enemy #1 to the Christian faith. Highly educated and well connected, he would have been one of the last people on earth to accept the idea of a crucified and resurrected Messiah based on Jewish expectations of the time. Paul became so persuaded of the resurrection of Christ that he completely dedicated his life to his risen Lord and died serving Him. This is powerful evidence of the reality of the resurrection.
3. The empty tomb is a historical necessity.
Did Jesus’ enemies take His body? This is extremely unlikely, because his enemies would have displayed his body if they could have, in order to humiliate his disciples, quell the rumors of his resurrection, and cut short any new religion that threatened their traditions. Did Jesus’ friends steal His body? This is equally unlikely. After his crucifixion they were profoundly disappointed and discouraged men who didn’t even expect him to be resurrected.
4. Jewish propaganda presupposes the empty tomb and the missing body
See Matthew 28:11–15. The Jewish Temple authorities paid those who had seen the tomb empty to lie and say that the disciples had stolen the body. These leaders later murdered many of those who preached about his resurrection. Producing Jesus’ dead body would have squashed this new Christian movement. The fact that they didn’t means they could not because he was actually risen.
5. The testimony of women as first witnesses of the resurrection.
Review Matthew 28:1-10, Mark 16:1-10, Luke 24:1-10, and John 20:1-3. Women had virtually no credibility in the first-century Jewish culture, and their testimony in a court of law was considered worthless. If Jesus’ resurrection were a fable added later in an attempt to authenticate Christianity, why would the record have women be the first to see him and testify to the empty tomb, unless it had really happened that way?
6. The unbelief of the disciples concerning his resurrection.
Most of Jesus’ followers did not believe that he would die and then be resurrected. They were not expecting the event, and when it happened they did not believe it at first. They considered it an “idle tale” (see Luke 24:10-11). The disciples could not have fabricated the story of the resurrection from their own imaginations.
7. Even ancient non-Christian historians admitted the resurrection’s validity.
Josephus’ writings were well received at the time of their writing by both Jews and Romans. He wrote this about Jesus: “when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him; for he appeared to them alive again the third day; as the divine prophets had foretold...” No record of any contemporary debate against this writing has ever been found.
8. The biblical records of the resurrection appearances give a unified witness.
The Four Gospels and the Apostle Paul are unified in their description of ten resurrection appearances. Because these records are harmonious and non-contradictory, the burden of proof is upon those who would say that they do not tell the truth.
1. To Mary Magdalene (Mark 16:9; John 20:11-18)
2. To the other women (Matthew 28:8-10)
3. To Peter (Luke 24:34; 1st Corinthians 15:5)
4. To the two men on the road to Emmaus (Mark 16:12; Luke 24:13-35)
5. To eleven of the disciples (except Thomas—Luke 24:33-49; John 20:19-24)
6. To the twelve a week later (John 20:24-29; 1st Corinthians 15:5)
7. To seven disciples by the Sea of Tiberias (John 21:1-23)
8. To five hundred followers (1st Corinthians 15:6)
9. To James (1st Corinthians 15:7)
10. To the twelve at the ascension (Acts 1:3-12)
9. The unanimous testimony of eyewitnesses, who could not all have been deceived or deluded.
Some critics say that the early Christians had a vision, hallucination, dream, or apparition of Christ after his death. Yet, no account in history or science records different groups of people seeing the same hallucination, and multiple times. 500 people in a crowd (1st Corinthians 15:6) would not all dream the same dream at the same time. Did Jesus just appear as a spirit then? Such a mystical concept would not have satisfied the Hebraic mind of the disciples, however, who believed the dead to be dead until raised in a bodily, physical resurrection.
10. Miraculous resurrection is the only way Jesus could have escaped the tomb.
The “swoon” theory proposes Jesus was not really dead when they buried him, and that he “came to” again. This is despite the fact that the Roman soldiers who crucified him were professional executioners (read John 19:33-34). If he had somehow survived, weak and exhausted, encased in heavy grave wrappings, he could scarcely have moved, much less removed the heavy stone door. Even if he had, the guards would have rearrested him. Since there is no record of such an event, it must not have happened, because his enemies would have made much of such a bizarre happening.
11. The disciples had nothing to gain by fabricating a story and starting a new religion.
Jesus’ followers faced hardship, ridicule, hostility, and martyrs’ deaths. They could never have sustained such unwavering motivation if they knew what they were preaching was a lie.