The resurrection, beyond doubt

The old saying, “There are lies, damned lies and statistics” was attributed by Mark Twain to Benjamin Disraeli, the 1sts Earl of Beaconsfield, who twice served as Prime Minister.

The saying has other possible sources too, such as this: “A well-known lawyer, now a judge, once grouped witnesses into three classes: simple liars, damned liars, and experts. He did not mean that the expert uttered things which he knew to be untrue, but that by the emphasis which he laid on certain statements, and by what has been defined as a highly cultivated faculty of evasion, the effect was actually worse than if he had” (Nature, 26 Nov 1885)

Scepticism is not new. Has scepticism increased over time? Nowadays we have investigative journalism, undercover programmes, fact checking sites and video footage from multiple witnesses (due to the mobile phone revolution). All has become more sophisticated. We also have spin doctors and tricksters who aim to deceive. We also have Artificial Intelligence which can produce very convincing alternatives to reality. Perhaps we have more information and more scrutiny?

With regards to the resurrection, Thomas was sceptical. He got the nickname “doubting Thomas” because of doubting the veracity of what the others told him. John records the sequence of events: ‘Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe” (John 20v24-25). Thomas was not convinced by verbal reports from the other disciples. He wanted to see for himself.

A further week on and his questions were answered: ‘A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (20v26-29).

The physical presence of Jesus blew out of the water any objections that he had. He was now Thomas the disciple, the worshipper of Jesus.

The value of the Gospel accounts is that we have eye-witness reports. John had carefully recorded the life and times of Jesus for a single purpose: ‘Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name’ (John 20v30-31).

We invite you to join us on Sundays to find out more and grow in understanding. To move from sceptical doubt to take up the invitation to be a disciple, to move from being a sceptic to Son-worshipper! For the resurrection stands as evidence of how Jesus has paid for our sins on the cross, defeated death and now offers life eternal. This is for all who believe and trust in him, the Messiah (Christ) the only Son of God.

      Paul Kingman