How many of Jesus’ 12 disciples can you name? Probably half. Peter, James, and John are easy. How about Judas and Matthew? And probably you would remember Thomas. Why? Let’s think about what he is most known for. He is Doubting Thomas, right? He is forever enshrined in Christian history and popular culture as a doubter. And this is not without merit. He did say this [John 20.24-25]: But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.” Can you blame him? He saw Jesus die. He knew Jesus was buried. He had known other people who had died. Dead is dead, right? Usually. The idea of a resurrection was not in his inventory of possibilities.
And he was not the only doubter: Luke 24.1-11. In response to the first witnesses to the resurrection, the disciples’ reaction was: “But these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them.” And the doubting continued: Matthew 28.16-17. Even after all of the resurrection appearances of Christ, at His ascension to heaven, Matthew tells us that “some doubted”.
Can you blame them? This was all new to them. They did not have over 2000 years of tradition and the story being told to lean on. They did not have the Scriptures to study for clues.
Why do we believe in the resurrection? Because it’s what we’ve always been told? Because where would our faith be without it?
There are reasons to believe in the resurrection of Christ. I will mention 5 today (I covered these in our Easter worship. You can watch HERE.)
1-A public execution assured Christ’s death. “Maybe he didn’t really die–he just passed out or went into a coma” is one theory that has been given to explain away the resurrection. But a public execution assured Christ’s death. The Roman guards had executed many before. They knew death when they saw it. In fact, Jesus was already dead when they examined him and they did not break his legs, but pierced his side with a spear. By the way, he was buried by his friends and followers. If there had been any sign of life–any faint pulse– they would not have put him in the tomb.
2-A high official secured the gravesite. A Roman seal was put on the grave. Whoever broke it would be crucified. Matthew 27.62-66
3-In spite of the guards, the tomb was found empty. Matthew 28.11-15 A lot of energy was spent trying to stop and discredit Christianity. Look at all the efforts of Saul before he was converted and became Paul. (Acts 8.1-3 and Acts 9.1-2) Look at the account of Stephen after he preached Christ in Jerusalem. (Acts 7.54-60) All they had to do was produce the body. That would have ended it. But they could not. The tomb was empty!
4-Many people claimed to see him alive. 1 Corinthians 15.1-10, Acts 26.22-26 Over 500 witnesses! And after this was claimed, no one disputed it. No one cried “Fake news!”
5-His apostles were dramatically changed. John 20.19, Acts 2.14, 22-24, 32-36 They were hiding behind locked doors, after Christ’s crucifixion, afraid that they would be next. But then a few days later, we see them publicly proclaiming in a very bold way the message of Christ! And the main speaker is Peter, who had just denied Jesus 3 times! What changed them? How can this radical change of heart be explained? Only by the resurrection! And Thomas was also changed dramatically.
What happened to Thomas after this encounter?
According to the 4th-century Ecclesiastical History of Bishop Eusebius of Caesarea, he evangelized Parthia (Iran). Later Christian tradition says Thomas extended his apostolate into India, where he is recognized as the founder of the Church of the Syrian Malabar Christians, or Christians of St. Thomas. Thomas was martyred for his faith in India. Thomas was changed by his encounter with the risen Lord. From Doubting Thomas to Courageous and Daring Thomas!
There are reasons to believe in the resurrection! Part two with 5 more reasons coming soon!
This content was adapted from an article that can be found HERE. There is some more elaboration on each point, and I took some of the thoughts in a different direction. You might find reading this article helpful.