I’ve just finished reading all four accounts of what happened AFTER the resurrection of Jesus. And I think that the one thing I can confidently say is that I find myself just as bewildered as it seems the disciples were. What I can’t confidently piece together, are the events during the day and in the days after the Resurrection. I pulled out an old resource I have that I’ve never quite been able to finish reading “Jesus and the Eyewitnesses” by Richard Bauckham. However, I didn’t find what I was looking for, which was some concrete sort of timeline of factual events that happened after the resurrection–the who, what, when and where of it all.
But the Bible seems frustratingly silent–or cryptic–or withholding–on those days following the resurrection.
Why? It’s something that I don’t understand. Without the resurrection, there is no salvation. It seems that the resurrection is an event that deserves a much more thorough treatment or consistency than it receives in scripture.
I know that this sounds like I am “bashing” scripture, which I would never, ever do. But what I will do and often have done, is say that I wish it would say more about some things than it does. I wish I had more information on some things than I do. My mind likes research; it likes concrete answers.
Moving beyond the Gospels, we have Paul’s account of the days following the resurrection. This is found in 1 Corinthians 15:1-8:
Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8 Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.
In this passage, Paul first delivers the “Gospel” message in brief form, and then he addresses the Resurrection. But not just the Resurrection, but some of the events after the resurrection: appearing to Cephas first, then the twelve apostles. Appearing to five hundred brothers at one time. Appearing to James, then to all the apostles (and who would that have included???) And then, lastly, appearing to Paul.
Now even this description of events seems to contradict what the gospels say about what happened after the resurrection.
Surely you can see my frustration? And maybe you have experienced some frustration over this issue as well?
So what do we do with this? What do we do with these eyewitness reports of seeing Jesus after the resurrection, and the wide variance between them? This is what I have struggled with since yesterday after worship. And then last night after watching The Bible on the History Channel. And then watching a sermon on 1 Corinthians 15 in the middle of the night when my girl was awake and not well and I was trying to put her back to sleep. I’ve wrestled with it through my early morning disciplines, and then I’ve contemplated it throughout the day.
Yes, I know. I probably think too much.
But knowing this about myself, I’ve had to fight to come to some sort of conclusion–some sort of answer for my soul in order to stave off the doubt that I seem to fight against more than others. Surprisingly tonight, I’ve not found my settledness in researching the end of each Gospel. I’ve not found my settledness in digging out the book “Jesus and the Eyewitnesses”. I’ve not found it in doing some online searching (my Bible software is not working tonight, grr), particularly at www.preceptaustin.com, my go-to source when I can’t find information elsewhere.
No, I have surprisingly found it in that frustrating passage of 1 Corinthians 15. But not in Paul’s litany of post-resurrection events, but rather the verses before that. I’ve found it in verses 1,2, and 3.
In verse one, it’s the Gospel, which I have received and in which I stand fast.
In verse two, it’s the Gospel by which I am BEING saved, if I hold fast to the word.
But it is especially in verse 3. It is what Paul delivered to the readers of his letters. It is what Paul has, through those letters delivered to us. Delivered to me. It is of the FIRST IMPORTANCE. That:
- Christ died for my sins according to Scripture (and your sins)
- That He was buried
- That He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures
Christ is the fulfillment of prophecy. Christ’s death and resurrection is a fulfillment of the teaching he gave to the disciples. Our pastor yesterday, taught us that in the book of Mark it is recorded that Jesus foretold of His death and resurrection three different, distinct times. Scripture is truth. Yes, I struggle and always will struggle with what I don’t know–with the questions in my soul that I want answers to immediately, that I won’t get answers to until I go home–and maybe not even then! But if I am going to stand fast in the Lord, (1 Thessalonians 3:8 and 1 Corinthians 15:1) and if I am going to hold fast to the word (1 Corinthians 15:2), then I am going to take scripture as a whole and base my faith on the fulfillment of that scripture.
Faith is a strange thing. It comes by the hearing of the word. Take a look at Romans 10:17: So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. What a beautiful verse: My faith-Your faith, comes from hearing. My hearing-and your hearing-comes through the word of Christ. Through His teaching. About Himself. And through His fulfillment of that scripture.
So the events post-resurrection may not be clear in events and timeline–or, at least, they may not be clear to me. But what I stand fast in, what I hold fast to, is of “First Importance”: the Gospel message as described in 1 Corinthians 15:3.
UPDATE ON BETHANY
We have finally, really turned a corner today I believe. The new medications seem to be not upsetting her stomach like the other was. Her Surgeon saw her today and was very reassuring. On top of that, we received calls from both the surgery ward nurse that took care of her as well as the anesthesiologist. Each had great ideas that have added to her comfort today. We even managed to get a smile from her today–as opposed to the last two days when tears have come so easily to her. Right at this moment, she is sipping on some chicken noodle soup broth–a huge improvement. She’s surprisingly not slept much today, after being up so much throughout last night. So I’m hoping that means there may be sleep in the house tonight. We love our small house, but when one person is up sick, generally no body gets much sleep.
I could list a dozen things that have shown us that this surgery has been orchestrated by God. I’ll name just one here. Last Friday was the kids last day on straight medicaid. They still will be in the medicaid program because my salary is still eligible, but they will move up two tiers to where I will be paying small co-pays. Because her surgery was on Friday, it was completely covered. Had it been today, it would have cost us $350, which we didn’t have. I can’t help but think that God knew, and worked it out perfectly. I am so amazed.
Please continue to pray for us as the week progresses and as Bethany improves. Please pray that whatever crud I have, that I will not pass it to her but will keep it to myself. I really think that it would start to go away with a night or two of sleep. Maybe tonight.
So I close with this quote from one of my favorite classic authors:
“Life [had] replaced logic.”
― Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Crime and Punishment