Our Lord Jesus Christ physically rose from the dead, wounds and
St. Thomas putting his finger on
Thomas did not marvel at his own imagination or hallucination. He was looking directly at the resurrected Jesus. Thomas responded in astonishment and truth, "My Lord and my God!" His revelation went far beyond the words he uttered. Jesus IS God (John 1.1) The resurrected Christ is real and church history tells us that Thomas took the reality of the risen Jesus Christ to India where he was eventually martyred.
The earth shaking truth that Thomas declared was embraced by the other Disciples and the early Church that suffered under persecution. It was reaffirmed by the Council of Nicaea 300 years later, and vigorously defended by Christians to this day. Christ's empty tomb is the cradle of the Church. It is upon the ACTUAL resurrection of Jesus Christ that Christianity either lives or dies.
The secular mind rails and recoils at the prospect of seriously considering the physical resurrection of Jesus Christ. Many people throughout the ages have tried to deny or disprove it. The denials began within hours of Christ's resurrection when soldiers who reported the empty tomb to the chief priests who paid them to say that Jesus' Disciples stole the body. (Matthew 28.11-15)
Why is the resurrection of Jesus Christ so utterly unthinkable to the secular mindset? It brings people face-to-face with the terrible prospect of God, and their own sin. C.S. Lewis said that God is the only comfort, he is also the supreme terror. The resurrection calls people away from sinful lives and to a different direction to become new creatures in Christ -- and forsake their old ways. John the Baptist called Jesus the "Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world." (John 1.29)
If a man's life is more important to him than being right with God, then the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is offensive. He must deny, deny, deny!
How Jesus rose from the dead is not for us to know, only that he
rose from the dead and why it happened. The motivation behind Christ's life, dead resurrection was (and remains) God's love for the world. (John 3.16)
God is calling you and me, and every other human being, to repentance and reconciliation with Him through faith in Jesus Christ and the reconciliation that Calvary offers. God loves all humanity so much! He wants us to spend eternity with him. This is the Why of the cross. This the Why of Easter.
We accept Christ's resurrection by faith and the testimony of those who saw him after his resurrection. Jesus said to Thomas, "Have you have come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." That is you and me and millions of Christians throughout the centuries. We are called to live by faith not by sight.
If Christ did not rise from the dead then nor shall his followers. If the resurrection did not occur, then our faith is futile. The Apostle Paul stated this 1Corinthians 15.16-17. If Christ did not rise from the dead then our loved-ones who have died are lost. If Christ did not rise from the dead then all I have known and hold dear is like a house of cards ready to come crashing down around me. The sooner the better -- if Christ did not rise from the dead. If Christ did not rise from the dead then Christianity is nothing more than a cruel hoax and should be eradicated from the face of the earth.
But the resurrection did occur. We have the testimonies of witnesses who personally saw Christ after his death. They preferred
death rather than deny it. Over 67,000,000 Christians have been martyred throughout 2,000 years. They were crucified, hanged, dismembered, burned, boiled, mutilated, disemboweled, starved, flayed alive, bludgeoned and shot for their faith. In continues and intensifies in this century. It is happening as I write these words.
I am not a martyr. But my lesser suffering from disease and serious disability has brought me to the reality of the risen and living Christ. He has abided with me throughout 34 years of aggressive, degenerative multiple sclerosis. His presence has become more real the sicker I become. I rest knowing Christ will abide with me to the end. All I love remains intact. I can declare with confidence the words of Job:
For I know my redeemer lives,
And He shall stand at last on the earth;
And after my skin has been destroyed, this I know,
That in my flesh I shall see God,
Whom I shall see for myself,
And my eyes shall behold, and not another.
How my heart yearns within me!