Summary: The disciples were confused and didn’t really believe the resurrection. Yet in each gospel account Christ gave them proof so they could believe. What proof do we need to really believe what we say we believe?
What Will It Take?
“Forget what you learned in elementary school--the earth is flat as a pancake. All that stuff about the earth being round and the sun being the center of the universe is a big joke,” insisted C.K. Johnson in a 1979 interview. Mr. Johnson was president of the International Flat Earth Research Society from 1971 until his death in 2001. The Flat Earthers dismiss modern science as a club for sun worshippers and write off all space programs as multi-billion dollar hoaxes. "The moon walk was done in a Hollywood set. All faked," said Johnson, a former airplane mechanic. Furthermore, he and other Flat Earthers insist the sun is a gigantic spotlight, 32 miles across, that moves in an ellipse just 3000 miles above the center of the earth. The stars are just a lot of tiny holes poked in a huge canopy covering this planet. When asked in an interview, “Do Flat Earthers believe in anything?”
Johnson replied, "We believe the Earth is flat. Everything else is pure conjecture.”
Kind of makes you wonder what basis the International Flat Earth Research Society has for their beliefs. All they really believe is that the earth is flat. Everything else is up for debate. Even hard and factual evidence to refute their flat earth claims are disregarded so that they can hold on to their one belief - the earth is a flat disc floating through space. No matter what scientific proof, no matter what visual proof, no matter how much research to the contrary, the Flat Earth Society is going to believe one thing – the earth is flat.
On the evening of the resurrection, the disciples were gathered together. Huddled together in the locked room, they shared one belief – Christ had died. For three days they had hidden from the Jews, they had stayed out of the public eye as much as possible, they had mourned and then on this morning, the women who had gone to the tomb returned with astonishing news: He was not there. An angel (of all things) rolled away the stone from the entrance and he showed them the place where Christ’s body had been laid. Then he assured them that Christ, the one they were looking for had been raised from the dead and that he was going ahead of them to Galilee. Though this message from the angel sounded eerily familiar to the strange predictions Jesus himself made, it was just too difficult to believe. They had seen him die. They had seen him be buried. That was the end of the story! No account from the women, no words from an angel, no report from Peter who himself went to see the empty tomb, was going to change their minds and what they believed – Christ was dead. Hope was dead. There was nothing that could change their views… or was there?
Suddenly there was a knock at the door. In entered two fellow followers of Christ - excited and telling the eleven gathered there of an encounter with the risen Lord. “It is true!” they exclaimed. “The Lord has risen! We have seen him!” Then they told of the way this man had traveled with them, set their hearts aflame, had opened their minds to understand the scripture and then how he had taken bread and blessed it and broke it and shared it with them. And suddenly there was no doubting. They recognized him for who he was – the risen Lord! And he disappeared from their presence and they were compelled to return to Jerusalem to tell the disciples what they had heard, seen and experienced.
Yet, the disciples continued to believe Christ was dead. All proof otherwise was pure conjecture.
Then as they were discussing the news from these friends from Emmaus, suddenly there was a man among them. “Peace be with you!” he said. The disciples were frightened.
“Do not be afraid,” he said. “Here are my hands and my feet. Touch me, I am not a ghost!”
Now, if you remember John’s resurrection account that we read last week, when Christ had said this to the disciples and showed them his hands and feet, the disciples believed. But Luke’s gospel differs. After Christ shows the disciples his hands and feet, Luke writes this curious verse: they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement. What does that mean? How could they be filled with joy and amazement and still NOT believe that this person in their midst is indeed the risen Lord? How could they still believe that Christ was dead? All the stories and reports were falling into place – the women at the empty tomb, Peter’s witness of the tomb, the disciples from Emmaus, now this man who entered the room through locked doors and had wounds precisely where the nails had been driven, all this proof was contrary to their belief. All this proof filled them with joy and amazement, but they still didn’t believe. They believed Christ to be dead – in spite of mounting proof to the contrary! Christ was dead – all other proof was conjecture. Christ was dead – and though the prospect of him being raised from the dead was exciting – it wasn’t possible. They had seen him die! It’s not possible for him to be alive! Joy and amazement aside, it just didn’t make sense to them.