“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. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We write this to make our joy complete.” 1 John 1:1-4 (NIV)
Faith is not a blind leap in the dark. It is a step into the light based on physical evidence. Jesus wanted there to be no doubt about His bodily resurrection among His followers. That’s why John could write as he did in 1 John when he gave eyewitness testimony to what he had seen with his own eyes, touched with his own hands and heard with his own ears. This would be true of each of the disciples who encountered the risen Lord in the forty days that Jesus remained with them until He ascended into Heaven. While faith is a matter of believing, it is belief based on historical facts. When you compare the resurrection appearances of Jesus, it’s interesting to note that, on most of those occasions, He challenged His disciples with the opportunity of testing the fact of His resurrection. He spoke with them face to face. They touched Him. He ate with them. He wanted there to be no doubt that He was not a ghost. Look at this exchange that Luke, the physician, records in the gospel named after him.
“While they were still talking about this, Jesus Himself stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’ They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. He said to them, ‘Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? Look at My hands and My feet. It is I Myself! Touch Me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.’ When He had said this, He showed them His hands and feet. And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, He asked them, ‘Do you have anything here to eat?’ They gave Him a piece of broiled fish, and He took it and ate it in their presence.” Luke 24:36-43 (NIV)
The evidence was unquestionable. In each of His post-resurrection appearances, Jesus was providing proof that He really did rise from the dead. This was essential for the disciples if they would become the Apostles who would bear witness of His identity as the Messiah that the prophets predicted would come! He was preparing them for their apostolic ministry that would turn the world upside down! The word Apostle means “a messenger, envoy, delegate, one commissioned by another to represent him in some way, especially a man sent out by Jesus Christ Himself to preach the Gospel” according to Strong’s Concordance.
As Christ followers today, we have historical evidence and eyewitness testimony to the fact of the resurrection. We stand on solid ground in sharing the Good News today as His disciples did then. Why is this so important? If you follow the evidence, it will lead you to the truth. The evidence demands a verdict. Have you made a decision about Christ in your life?