Peace, Panic, Proof
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Peace, Panic, Proof

Luke 24:36–43  (ID: 2371)

Although the disciples could clearly see that Jesus had risen from the dead, they did not immediately grasp the implications of His death and resurrection. Just as Jesus spoke comforting words to His disciples, He still brings peace today through His written Word. Alistair Begg assures us that there is life after death and that this reality is a beautiful reminder of the glorified bodies and eternal life that God will eventually give to all believers.

Series Containing This Sermon

A Study in Luke, Volume 14

What Now? Luke 24:1–53 Series ID: 14216

Sermon Transcript: Print

I invite you to turn again to Luke chapter 24, to the portion that was read a moment or two ago. Now let’s pray together:

Father, we thank you again for the Bible, that we can have it open before us and make sure that what is being said is actually there. You have given us minds that we might think and wills that we might obey, and we pray that you will come to us and illumine our minds by the Holy Spirit through the Word of God, that we may become true disciples of Jesus, the Son of God. For it’s in his name we pray. Amen.

Now, we resume our studies this morning where we left off last Sunday evening. The disciples, the followers of Jesus, are quite frankly on an emotional roller coaster. One minute they seem to be up on the crest, and the next minute they’re hurtling towards the ground, at least emotionally. The report of the empty tomb was met instinctively by the reaction of unbelief. The things that the ladies came to tell them “seemed to them,” Luke tells us in verse 11, “like nonsense.” And throughout the day there were conflicting reports: “He’s alive. The tomb is empty.” “He’s been seen.” “He has not been seen.” And finally, they apparently got it clarified and resolved when, as a group, in verse 34, they said, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.”

Now, we might have thought then that at verse 34, with this great affirmation on the part of the total group assembled, they could put the thing to bed now and move on with their lives. But as you would have detected from the verses that have just been read, in this particular incident it is clear that the people who made this great affirmation did not apprehend fully the meaning of the affirmation that they were making. So they were saying something that they believed but they didn’t fully grasp, and emotionally, they’re just thoroughly confused. It seems fairly obvious that there’s only one thing that is going to settle the matter for them as a group, and that is if Jesus himself appears and reveals himself to the whole group at the one time. And that, of course, is what Luke tells us takes place right here.

Now, I have three words this morning that we’re going to use as pointers to help us navigate through verses 36–43. They are peace, panic, and proof. And the first of these comes in verse 36 in the statement of Jesus, and we’ll spend the longest time on this. Don’t be alarmed when you look at your watch and you say, “But this is only the first word,” and then you multiply it by three and you realize that you’re going to be leaving sometime just as the last service is concluding. It won’t be like that at all.

A Word of Peace

But notice: first word is the word peace. “While they were still talking … Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’” The context is clear. They were in full swing, talking and presumably debating with one another. What were they talking about? They were “talking about this.” What is “this”? Well, if you were reading any book, in order to find out what “this” was, you would just go further up the page, and you would back up a couple of paragraphs and find out the context. Well, that’s exactly what you do when you’re reading the Bible. There’s no mystery to it. “While they were still talking about this…” Go up the page and find out what they had been talking about before. Well, they’d been talking about the appearances of Jesus and the events of the day. And the most recent information had come from the two individuals on the Emmaus Road, and they had been telling what had happened on the way—how they had recognized Jesus. And it may well be that they had referenced verse 27 and the great explanation that Jesus had given to these two individuals of the story of himself all the way through the Scriptures as they had them.

That is the context in which Luke tells us two things. He tells us first of all that Jesus “stood among them.” And the way in which he stood among them was so dramatic that they recoiled from it, as we will see. One moment he was absent; the next moment he was present. John tells us in chapter 20 of his Gospel, and verse [19], that this took place despite the fact that the doors were locked. There’s no indication that anyone came knocking on the door. It was just that they were in an animated conversation with one another, and all of a sudden, Jesus was there. He appeared by supernatural power, no longer bound by the limitations of his ordinary earthly body. He is now already clothed in his glorified and celestial body.

Now, just so that we don’t get confused by words or phrases like “glorified celestial body,” I want to purposefully take a moment or two to address this with you, because it matters not only in relationship to what we discover here about Jesus, but it matters because what we discover about Jesus, Paul tells us, is the forerunner, or “the firstfruits,” of what will happen to those who follow Jesus in terms of having resurrection bodies.[1] So let’s say this simply as we can. Jesus has risen from the dead in a transformed body which will never die again, which cannot die again. He now has a body over which death is impotent. And in this sense and in this respect, he is therefore distinguishable from anything that we’ve seen of resurrection to this point. Those of us who know our Bibles know that we can go to the tomb of Lazarus, when he was raised from the dead.[2] We can go to the story of Jairus’s daughter, who was raised up.[3] We can go to the funeral procession for the son of the widow of Nain.[4] But in each of these instances, all of those individuals have our sympathy, because, as C.S. Lewis once put it, they had all their dying to do again.[5] They were raised but were not given glorified and celestial bodies. They were raised to die again. Jesus is resurrected never to die again.

Our present bodies are subject to decay and to disease and to death. Our resurrected bodies will be imperishable.

And the point is that our resurrection bodies are going to be like Jesus’ resurrection body. In the words of committal, the minister says, “We commit the [soul] of our dear brother or sister here departed to the ground, ashes to ashes, dust to dust, in the sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life through our Lord Jesus Christ,” and then, quoting from Philippians 3, “who will raise our earthly bodies that they may be like unto his glorious body, according to the mighty working whereby he is able to subdue all things, even death, to himself.”[6] Jesus, then, appears with a new body invested with new powers, and in Christ we too will have new bodies invested with new powers.

Now, for your homework I want you to go and read 1 Corinthians 15. I’m going to get you started on it, if you’re prepared to turn there with me for just a moment, and I will, like any kind teacher, give you a start, and then I say, as every teacher does, “Now, I’m not going to do this for you. I want you to go on and do the rest by yourself.” But let me just get you started: 1 Corinthians 15, and into the second half of it, verse 35. Paul says, “[Now,] someone may ask, ‘How are the dead raised?’” And people do ask that. We ask that: “If we’re going to be raised, how are we going to be raised?” Our children and our grandchildren ask that: “What will we look like? Will we recognize one another? What will it be?” “With what kind of body will they come?” That’s a bit stupid, he says: “How foolish!” Think about it: “What you sow does not come to life unless it dies.” Every gardener understands this. Every farmer understands this. “When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else. But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives [it] its own body.” So in other words, between seed and flower there is continuity, but there is also discontinuity in terms of shape and size and color and fragrance.

He then continues with that analogy and makes application of it beginning in verse 42: “So”—the conjunction, which ties the picture he’s been providing with the application he makes—“So this is how it’ll be with the resurrection of the dead.”[7] In other words, if you understand that picture, then it will help you to understand this. He then provides four contrasts, and this is all I’m going to give you—point them out to you.

“So [it will] be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable.” Meaning what? Our present bodies are subject to decay and to disease and to death; our resurrected bodies will be imperishable. Disease, decay, death will be impotent in relationship to our resurrection bodies.

“It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory.” That is not to say that our bodies are per se dishonorable, but it is to say that the bodies that we have now are subject to the impact and ravages of sin. Our new bodies will be free from every selfish, passionate desire.

“It is sown in weakness,” and “it is raised in power.” Well, we know that our bodies are weak. Just the last couple of days, getting out of cars, I said to myself, “Why is it so difficult to get out of a car?” I mean, I’m talking to myself as well, which is another indication of the ravages of time bearing in on me. But I’m literally getting out of the car saying, “How can it be so… I am so out of it,” I said to myself, “that… Why… This isn’t a major jump or a leap. What’s wrong with me?” Well, you’re weak. And you’re about to get weaker still. But the new body that we will have will no longer be subject to the limitations of our present bodies. It won’t have the same metabolism—no possibility of fatty deposits in places that you don’t want them and so on. Our body “is sown in weakness,” and “it is raised in power.”

And the fourth contrast is that “it is sown” as “a natural body,” and “it is raised” as “a spiritual body.” Well, does that argue, then, for some kind of immateriality, for a soulful existence? No, that’s not what he’s saying. He’s saying that our bodies are perfectly suited at the moment to the natural realm, and our bodies raised spiritual will be adapted to our new spiritual life and to our redeemed personalities.

Now, this is very, very important. In the Old Testament, the argument is always from creation to the power of God. For example, Jeremiah 32: “Sovereign Lord, you[’ve] made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm”; therefore, “nothing is too hard for you,”[8] from creation to the powerful impact of God in his world. In the New Testament, they largely go from resurrection to the same conclusion, looking back: “Lord Jesus, you are raised from the dead. Father, you raised the Son from the dead. You are the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.”[9] Or in Romans 1:4: Jesus “was declared with power to be the Son of God by [the] resurrection from the dead.”

Now, I’ve belabored this point, and purposefully, and I’m not finished. I have one other thing to do. What I want to reinforce for us this morning is the Christian belief that is not in the immortality of the soul but is in the resurrection of the body. We live at a time in history where people are fascinated with death and dying and whether they can communicate with people beyond the dead. It’s on TV all the time—stories of incarnation and reincarnation and ideas of where we’re going to go and what we’re going to be. And sometimes I think as Christians, when it comes to the moment for our opportunity to speak with clarity concerning this, we’re just actually drooling rather than communicating, and anything that we have to say sounds so bizarre. Because it is bizarre. Because what we have made the mistake of doing is importing language which has been provided—it’s called apocalyptic language—we have imported apocalyptic language which is language used in a poetic fashion to describe the indescribable—undescribable, whichever—and we’ve made that the story of heaven. And the more that we look at that as the story of heaven, the less we like it.

At least, I can tell you I don’t like it. I mean, I am not ready to make a run, to swing on a tree, playing a harp, looking down on streets of gold. Are you? I mean, does that get you up in the morning, like, “Oh yes! And you know what? When we finish here, guess where we get to go! You get to go to this place, and it’s like nothing you’ve ever seen, and there’s gold and harps and angels and…” Tell me when it starts to really interest you. And then you feel bad; you go, “Oh, this is terrible. I don’t even like heaven, and I’m supposed to be going to heaven! How could I possibly be a real believer? I’ve got this heaven I’m supposed to go to, and I don’t like the idea.” That’s because the idea that most of us have of heaven came from Victorian England or Hollywood, and we have this immaterial notion of what it’s going to be. We’ve failed to see that God has done it once fantastically in our world that we enjoy, spoiled by sin, and he’s about to do it again just to the nth degree.

Now, the person who has helped me most in this most recently is an Australian by the name of John Dickson. I think his book is recommended this week in our church bulletin: If I Were God, I’d End All the Pain—very helpful book in speaking to your friends. And in the course of reading this book, I discovered—and I love it when this happens; I’m sure you do too. I discovered that there was someone else in the universe that actually felt the same way as I did in relationship to heaven. Up until this point I wanted to keep it very quiet because I didn’t want anyone to think I was a heretic. But as soon as I knew that I had a heretical friend that I kind of admired, then I said, “That’s fine. I’ll stand up and admit it too.”

He puts it so perfectly, and I want to read it to you. It’s page 57:

In the years after I came to believe in Christ, it always troubled me that I was now meant to enjoy the thought of escaping the physical world and entering a spiritual one called heaven. I loved the taste, smell, sight, sound, and touch of this world, and here I was being told to look forward to losing those five senses and having them replaced by a spiritual sixth sense. I was not terribly excited about it. Then someone challenged me to point to biblical texts that describe the afterlife as a disembodied, nirvana-like bliss. I couldn’t. Every passage I turned to challenged the Hollywood version of heaven. It turns out that the biblical “kingdom come” is not an ethereal place of clouds and ghosts, but a tangible place of real existence: it is a “new creation”. Whether or not we will gain a “sixth sense” I have no idea, but I think we can count on keeping the other five senses.

This is a future I can get excited about. It is life in the fullest sense of the word, a reality in which the moral and physical tensions of our current world will be resolved through an extraordinary act of divine re-creation. And when I find myself doubting that such a fantastic hope could ever become a reality, I need only go down to the beach near where I live or look up at the glorious night sky and remind myself that God has already done it once: the proof is right there before my eyes. Why should I question his ability to do it a second time?[10]

So that moment in the early evening, when the first shadows start to fall across your favorite fairway, and it’s so fantastic that you would like just to sit on the grass with your friends and love it all and take it all to yourself—it is the reality of the wonder of how God has created this which ought to make us excited about what it will be when he does it again in a way that will be completely unfettered by the ravages of man’s rebellion.

And, says Dickson,

There is another piece of evidence left in the world by the Almighty to indicate his intention of resurrecting the physical world itself. It is the resurrection of Christ himself …. Christ’s rising to life is central to biblical faith not merely because it marks out his life as a unique moment in history, but because by it God shows that he is willing and able to breathe new life where there is currently death. The resurrection of Jesus is God’s tangible pledge within history that he intends to do the same for the whole creation at the end of history.

And then, in a wonderful sentence, he summarizes what he’s been saying:

This current world convinces me of God’s ability to re-create the universe; the resurrection of Jesus convinces me of his intention to do just that.[11]

While they were in animated conversation with one another, Jesus, in his glorified and celestial body—a real physicality and identifiable materiality—came and stood among them. And standing among them, he spoke to them. It was the normal greeting, “Shalom.” It was, as we can see from what follows, a necessary greeting; their hearts were fearful and confused. But it was also, as we ought to know from reading the Gospel, more than a greeting.

And again, I’m only going to get you started on this; you’ll need to research it for yourselves. But if you read throughout the Gospel of Luke, from the very beginning of it you discover that peace and salvation are almost synonyms for one another in many places. For example, the words of Simeon in the temple, Luke 2: “Lord, let your servant depart in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation.”[12] Peace, salvation. Jesus to the woman: “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”[13] Salvation and peace. Therefore, when Jesus speaks peace to them, he is using normal terminology, necessary terminology, but the context in which he is saying it makes clear exactly what’s in view. He is speaking peace to them in light of the invitation that is about to follow for them to see his hands and his feet. What are his hands and his feet but evidences of his crucifixion? What is his crucifixion? It is his substitutionary death on our behalf. What is Jesus doing in dying on the cross? Paul explains in Colossians 1: he is “making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.”[14]

Now, this is often a stumbling block for somebody who’s just beginning to consider Christianity. They’ll come around, perhaps at Christmastime; someone invites them to church, and they come along, and they hear the phrases read, “Peace on earth and good will amongst men.”[15] And they say, “Well, clearly this isn’t happening. There seem to be more wars today than there have ever been, and all kinds of religious business is underlying them.” Well, yes, we have to be honest about that and say that if what Jesus meant in talking of peace was the end of all bloodshed and the inhumanity of man to man being brought to an end, then Christianity is a flop and a failure. If what Jesus meant in speaking about peace was some kind of tranquility into which his followers were brought whereby they lived in a sort of valium-enhanced experience, just drifting through their days where nothing really was able to cloud their vision or bother them, then Christianity is a flop, is a radical failure. But, of course, if in addressing “peace among men upon whom his favor rests” he was, as makes perfect sense as you follow the Gospels through, speaking of the peace which would come between a holy God and sinful man through his blood shed on the cross, thereby making out of those who have discovered peace peacemakers, then the Gospel record holds together.

You’re sensible people. You just need to work this out.

An Experience of Panic

Well, we spent a long time on peace. Let’s go to panic. Panic. Some of us would be taking the high road here in thinking there’s every reason to expect that on account of his standing among them and his speaking to them, their sorrows would’ve been soothed and their fears would’ve been calmed. But what do we discover? Well, we discover that they’re in panic mode: “They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost.”

Now, if you’re like me, you find yourself saying, “How in the world do they get from verse 34 to verse 37?” In verse 34 they say, “It is true! The Lord is alive. The Lord has risen.”[16] In verse 37 they’re all scrambling for cover, declaring to one another, “I think a ghost has just appeared.” Well, we ought not to be too hard on them, because they had come to terms, if you like, intellectually with the fact of the resurrection, but apart from just a few of them, they had no concept really at all of what the appearance of Jesus would mean. In fact, I pictured, as I was studying, one of them waxing lyrical on the resurrection and then all of a sudden being coaxed out from down behind the couch where he had been hiding when all of a sudden Jesus stood among them. “Oh yes,” he said, “the resurrection. I believe in the resurrection! The resurrection, and the resurrection, and the resurrection-rection-rection, resurrection.” You know. “Oh yes!” And then, all of a sudden, he’s in a fetal position down behind the couch. Why? Because he has now come face to face with the fact of the resurrection, the thing that intellectually he’s been affirming, but experientially, he’s got no grasp of it at all.

You see, my dear friends, let’s just be dead honest. It is one thing to affirm our belief in the resurrection on a fairly fine Sunday morning at ten forty-five, approximately, surrounded by a crowd of the faithful. It is quite another thing to affirm the reality of the resurrection when you’re sitting in one of those rooms at the Cleveland Clinic, waiting for the return of the tests at the hand of a well-meaning doctor. And before we condemn these disciples for their vacillation between belief and unbelief, between doubt and delight, we need to be honest enough to look into our own hearts and say, “Hey, we get this,” you know. It is one thing to be intellectually convinced. It is another to live experientially in the light of the truth. And Jesus shows up.

It is one thing to be intellectually convinced. It is another to live experientially in the light of the truth.

Actually, I’m greatly encouraged by this. I hope you are. What a group this is, you know. This is the future of the church right here in this room. Do you see that? This is the group upon which Jesus began to build. Oh, his foundation was laid in him; there could be no other foundation.[17] But then the apostles and the prophets are all put together,[18] and you’re looking at them here: “We believe in the resurrection!” “Why are you hiding?” “I don’t know!” Struggling between hope and despair.

It’s wonderfully honest, isn’t it? If the gospel had been an invention, they would never have had this. I mean, if you were inventing a gospel, and you had a group of people who were the sort of pillars of the church, you wouldn’t have them all hiding behind couches and coming out of closets saying, “We thought… We were startled and frightened and overwhelmed and unbelieving, and we thought we saw a ghost.” No, if you were writing it to affirm faith, you’d say, “And we were immediately convinced, and one began to write a book, and another one a gospel, and someone said…” You know, you’d put all of that down. But you see the wonderful honesty, and what a great encouragement it is for those of us who have spent the last week struggling between hope and despair.

Verse 37, they’re startled and they’re frightened; they think it’s a ghost. Verse 41, they’re unbelieving. We’re told in verse 41 the reason for their lack of belief is not a bad reason; it’s a good reason. It’s “because of joy and amazement.” They were just overwhelmed. It all just seemed far too good to be true. And this is in keeping with the appearance of supernatural activity throughout all of the Gospel record—indeed, throughout all of the Bible. Angelic visitations are met by fear. The angel of the Lord appeared, and “when Zechariah saw” this—verse [12] of chapter 1 of this Gospel—“when Zechariah saw” this, “he … was gripped with fear.” Chapter 2: and the “angel of the Lord appeared” in the night sky to the shepherds, “and they were terrified.”[19]

A Need for Proof

Well, his word was peace, their experience was panic, and finally, their need was proof. Proof. And so he asks them in verse 38 a question: “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds?” Probably a rhetorical question. We have no answer to it. He moves on very quickly to give his invitation. We needn’t pause long on the question, but it is a good question.

Remember, Jesus has said, “I don’t want your hearts to be troubled.” The beginning of the Upper Room Discourse: “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God, believe in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it weren’t so, I would’ve told you. I’m going to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto myself, that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the place where I’m going.” And [Thomas] said, “Lord, we don’t know where you’re going, so how can we know the way?” Actually, he said to them, “You know the way to the place where I’m going.” They said, “We don’t even know where you’re going, so how can we know the way?” And then he said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.”[20]

And here he comes on them, he says, “Hey, why are you troubled? Didn’t I give you this information? Why are you troubled? And why does fear, why do doubts rise…” Actually, it is “in your hearts.” The word kardia is here in verse 38. I don’t know why the NIV changes it to “minds.” It’s “heart” in verse 32: “Were not our hearts,” kardia, “burning within us?” It’s “hearts” in verse 25: “How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe.” And it’s “heart” here in verse 38: “Why are you troubled, and why do thoughts arise in your hearts?”[21] And as an antidote he immediately says, “Listen, I have an invitation for you, and here it is: look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost doesn’t have flesh and bones, as you see I have.”

Now, we can summarize the invitation in terms of just four verbs: look, touch, see, think. Look, touch, see, think. And the final verb is implicit: “A ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have. If you think about it, I can’t be a ghost, because a ghost isn’t formed in this way. Therefore, I want you to think.”

And they identified him. They looked and they saw the evidences of his crucifixion in his hands and in his feet. His invitation was very clear. In the Greek it reads, “See the hands of me and the feet of me, that ego eimi autos,” “I am myself.” Ego eimi autos. Remember ego eimi from the story of Joseph? “Ego eimi Ioseph.” “It is me, Joseph.” And when their eyes were opened to see him?[22] Remember we said on that occasion, there is a foreshadowing in Joseph of all that will become apparent in Christ.

And here he says, “You can look at me. I am myself.” He’s not a cadaver that is brought back to life. That would be bizarre. So if you think of the resurrection as a cadaver that kind of wakes up, that’s not it at all. This is his glorified celestial body. He’s not an immortal soul free from bodily existence; they can handle him. And finally, as ultimate proof of his materiality, he says, “I wonder if I could have something to eat before I leave you.” And “they gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate it in their presence.”

And then he was gone—gone for another week. He was going to be back the following Sunday night, John tells us, and he would show up and deal with Thomas the doubter on that occasion.[23] Special command performance for Thomas. How gracious! “I will not believe unless I can put my hands in his side and I can see,” and so on. Just as well that Jesus is not like many of us, isn’t it? “Well, if that’s the way you’re gonna be, you can take a flying leap, Thomas.” How gracious of Christ that he takes the initiative to come and speak peace even to those whose response is panic and to whom he gives proof of his risen life.

Now, we’re finished, but I want to make three simple points. I want you to look at verse 44, because it takes us forward, and really, without it, we shouldn’t stop at verse 43: “He said to them, ‘This is what I told you while I was still with you.’” In other words, he’s going to go on and give them the interpretation of the facts. And the interpretation is crucial if we are to understand and accept the facts. Because the facts by themselves do not compel belief. The facts by themselves are capable of ambiguity. We’re about to see this in this movie The Passion, because we’re going to be confronted by the facts of the death of this Jesus. But those facts by themselves in a picture, in a moving picture, in a drama, in a painting, are not capable of providing the necessary interpretation which may bring a person to faith. That is why, for example, the Bible does not simply say, “Christ died. Fact.” But it is fact plus interpretation: “Christ died for our sins.”[24] And it is that interpretation of the fact… And it’s not that the Bible is open for everybody’s interpretation. The Bible interprets itself. The Epistles are given to us as the facts plus interpretation. That’s Colossians [1]: that he was “making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.”[25] Someone says, “Well, what was happening when he died on the cross?” He was making peace. Peace between whom? Peace between a holy God and sinful man. What was he doing? He was “reconciling the world to himself.”[26] You need the interpretation.

You say, “Well, you shouldn’t stop at verse 43.” I understand that, but it’s twenty to eleven. And we will come back to it. We’re only pausing at verse 43. But I want you to understand that resolution will only come when scriptural illumination is added to the data that we have in front of us. And this, you see, was what then allowed John—who was immediately involved in these proceedings, as we read in John chapter 20—this is what allowed John to take up his pen and to begin not his Gospel but his first letter, which he wrote to assure those who had come to faith. And you remember how he began it? “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life.”[27]

And when Thomas finally got his own chance to affirm his faith, Jesus said to him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”[28] And we, in Christ, are among that company. At least some of us are. Have you believed in a sin-confessing, childlike-trusting, open-handed-hearted welcome to Christ? “Hey, Thomas, you believe because you saw me. There’s people at Parkside Church, and they never saw me, and they believed.” There’s a real blessing that attends that.

Let’s pray together:

Father, thank you for the Bible. Thank you so much for the fact that the more we study it, the more we are aware of the fact that we need to study it again and again, not because it is lacking in clarity but because it is so profound in the depth of material and insight.

Thank you, Lord Jesus Christ, that just as you came to these emotionally unsettled followers of yours on that day and spoke peace into their lives, so you come to us in the emotional roller coaster of our days. We confess to you that we daren’t take the high road when it comes to a kind of panicky response to the supernatural, because that often describes us: startled, fearful, overwhelmed by it all. Seems too good to be true. Can it be possible? Will this be there? And we thank you for the tremendous clarity of the text as it provides for us these appearances of you, Lord Jesus Christ. And although we haven’t seen you, still we love you. And you have made yourself known to us, and we thank you.

And we pray for your help as we go out into the world this week to rub shoulders with our friends and colleagues and neighbors, that there may be something of the resurrection power of Christ about us, a waft of the supernatural, just a little something that will open a door for us to be able to give a reason for the hope that we have.[29]

And may grace and mercy and peace from Father, Son, and Holy Spirit rest upon and remain with each one of us, today and forevermore. Amen.

[1] See 1 Corinthians 15:20–23.

[2] See John 11:38–44.

[3] See Mark 5:22–24, 35–43; Matthew 9:18, 23–26; Luke 8:41–42, 49–56.

[4] See Luke 7:11–15.

[5] C. S. Lewis to Sister Penelope, the Kilns, September 17, 1963, in Letters of C. S. Lewis, ed. W. H. Lewis (1966; repr., Orlando: Harvest, 1993), 509.

[6] Philippians 3:21 (paraphrased).

[7] 1 Corinthians 15:42 (paraphrased).

[8] Jeremiah 32:17 (NIV 1984).

[9] 1 Corinthians 15:20 (paraphrased).

[10] John Dickson, If I Were God, I’d End All the Pain (Sydney: Matthias, 2002), 57–58.

[11] Dickson, 58–59.

[12] Luke 2:29–30 (paraphrased).

[13] Luke 7:50 (NIV 1984).

[14] Colossians 1:20 (NIV 1984).

[15] Luke 2:14 (paraphrased).

[16] Luke 24:34 (paraphrased).

[17] See 1 Corinthians 3:11.

[18] See Ephesians 2:20.

[19] Luke 2:9 (NIV 1984).

[20] John 14:1–6 (paraphrased).

[21] Luke 24:38 (paraphrased).

[22] See Genesis 45:3.

[23] See John 20:24–27.

[24] 1 Corinthians 15:3 (NIV 1984).

[25] Colossians 1:20 (NIV 1984).

[26] 2 Corinthians 5:19 (NIV 1984).

[27] 1 John 1:1 (NIV 1984).

[28] John 20:29 (NIV 1984).

[29] See 1 Peter 3:15.

Copyright © 2024, Alistair Begg. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations for sermons preached on or after November 6, 2011 are taken from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

For sermons preached before November 6, 2011, unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version® (NIV®), copyright © 1973 1978 1984 by Biblica, Inc.TM Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Alistair Begg
Alistair Begg is Senior Pastor at Parkside Church in Cleveland, Ohio, and the Bible teacher on Truth For Life, which is heard on the radio and online around the world.