Matthew 28:1-10: Fear and Great Joy
March 24, 2021
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
Deuteronomy 32, Psalm 70, Matthew 28:1-10, Romans 15:14-33
Miracle of miracles, the resurrection. Many people have protested that we cannot possibly believe that Jesus came back from the dead. Sophisticated apologetics have been put together that make the case that however many eyewitnesses there are for Christ’s resurrection, such eyewitness account is insufficient—in the same way that ten or a thousand eyewitnesses that said that a man jumped off a building but did not fall and floated up again would strain credulity. Surely there must be some other rational explanation? Surely, they say, the rational alternative is that Jesus did not die. Or the disciples took the body. Or the soldiers did. Or the women were mistaken.
But if we argue that no miracle can be proven, however much proof there is for it, we are really making a philosophical (not evidential) case against the resurrection. We are saying that this miracle cannot have happened, but miracles are the kind of things that don’t happen. But that is a philosophical pre-commitment to a naturalistic universe. What, however, if that philosophical pre-commitment is inaccurate? No orthodox theologian argues that miracles happen all the time. In fact, by definition, miracles are very rare. The order of nature is that way because God is a God of order, and the so-called “laws of nature” are a description of the orderly nature of God. But God is God and is able to do something different than he normally does—what we would call from our perspective a miracle.
So we must objectively examine the facts and not preemptively dismiss them. Evidently, something extraordinary happened. After this event, frightened, scared, running and hiding, disciples turned into a human spiritual force that turned the world upside down. They died for what they knew was either a lie or true. Who would die for what they knew to be false? Only if they were certain of their resurrection because of Christ’s resurrection would it make sense, rationally, to die for this truth.
The effect of accepting the truth of the resurrection is dramatic. They are filled with “fear and great joy” (28:8). Fear and joy go together. Fear because this is God. Joy because this is God! He is risen, and we worship him as our Lord and Savior!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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