Summary: Discover why Jesus’s reality proves God’s currency in this exegesis of one of the stangest verses in the Bible.
“The Too Good to be True Syndrome”
TRANSITION FROM VIDEO (“What is God Like?”) And no doubt the disciples were getting a first-hand look at God as they looked at Jesus, not only during his three years of earthly ministry, but also in his post-resurrection appearances.
In fact, as they looked at Jesus on Easter evening, one of their responses was, “No Way! This is too good to be true!” Okay, maybe they didn’t use those words, but the Bible does record for us this story, and actually shows us that the some of the disciples, for the third time, were having trouble believing. Doubts were crowding in, and they were experiencing the same feelings they felt in John 14 – they were “troubled” (literally, ‘stressed’). Look with me at Luke 24, would you?
Luke 24:36-44 says, While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, "Peace be with you." They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. He said to them, "Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have." When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet. And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, "Do you have anything here to eat?" They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate it in their presence. He said to them, "This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms."
(Make these comments as you read)
• 24:36 – Christ’s sudden appearance indicates he was not restricted by space, time, or structure.
• 24:36, 37 – “Peace” was necessary because of what they thought: that he was a ghost!
• 24:38 – “Troubled” is the same as in John 14, where they were ‘stressed and fearful’ because he was going away.
• 24:39-43 – His visibility was proof of his reality. He ate, talked, and showed scars. He was real!
• 24:44 – His visibility was proof of Scripture’s reliability. When he showed up, it provided fulfillment for what the prophets had said.
The concept they couldn’t put their hands around was the bodily reality of Jesus. It’s almost as if they were asking, “Is it really him in the flesh? Is he really back? This is too good to be true!” This may be hard to understand, but their joy and amazement – their wonder – made them doubt! You can hear them whispering, “There’s just no way…is there?”
As difficult as this may be to comprehend, the text is clear and says they were struggling with doubt that stemmed from amazement. I like to say they were stuck in the “Too-Good-to-be-True Syndrome.” They found themselves saying, “Something this radical can’t be real.” And that’s exactly what those in the “Too-Good-to-be-True Syndrome” say, isn’t it? Things like, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably isn’t” were running through their minds. They are like a lot of the people we know. For that matter, they are like a lot of us! Often the good news just sounds too good to be true, and many people find the Gospel hard to believe because it seems so incredibly wonderful. There’s just no way it could all be real, right?
I was talking with a couple a few weeks ago who had that very reaction. They couldn’t believe that simply believing in Jesus was all it took to go to heaven. They were sure you had to wander in doubt and work very hard to prove yourself worthy. And then hope for the best! “After all,” they asked, “how can you know it’s real and true?”
As I verified the historical reality of Jesus and the timeline of his death and resurrection, and as I clarified the good news and attested to its veracity, they just smiled and began to realize, “Wow, it’s really true. It’s real! You can know you’re going to heaven!” The light began coming on! Sure enough, they bowed their heads and prayed right there, expressing their need for and belief in Jesus, That night they took their stand on the Gospel and settled their eternal destiny once and for all!
In the same manner, a young man from another city had this very same reaction as well a few months ago when I told him everything he had ever done was under the blood. You see, he told me some of what he had done throughout his life, and was asking if those things were going to send him to hell. As I began to explain forgiveness based in Jesus and the cross, he just couldn’t believe it. “Those things are forgivable? Surely I have to do something!” he would comment. But as I simply read the Scriptures and pointed him to the sufficiency of the historical God-man, Jesus Christ, his heart began to break and the good news broke through. When he understood the reality of Jesus, he finally gave in to the love of God! And driving from Ames to Ankeny, this young man gave his heart to Jesus Christ.