Cortez: Belief in the resurrection

“UNLESS I see the mark of the nails in his hands, put my finger into his nailmarks, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” These were the words Thomas uttered in this Sunday’s gospel (Jn. 20:19-31) after he missed the opportunity to see the Risen Lord.

God must have heard him, for a week later, Jesus returned to the room where the apostles were. Showing himself, He said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Put your hand into my side. Do not be unbelieving but believe.”

In reply, Thomas said, “My Lord and my God!” For which Jesus declared, “Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”

All of us in this generation have not seen the resurrected Christ, yet majority of us believe. Great thinkers may be inclined to think like Thomas – to see is to believe.

Personally, though, I don’t buy Thomas’ mindset. Like many others, I believe with all my mind and heart that Christ has indeed resurrected from the dead.

Why?

Because God said so. It could have been a period here; everything that follows is just a bonus.

Yes, God is completely truthful; it is impossible for him to lie (Hebrews 6:18).

The Old Testament contains a great number of prophecies about the Son of God offering his life for the salvation of the world – some as direct statements, others as types and shadows. Not a few proceeded in prophesying about the resurrection.

These prophecies, spoken and written by various prophets over a span of more than a thousand years, were all fulfilled in sharp precision and accuracy as the events of that first Holy Week unfolded.

The Old Testament prophecies about Christ’s passion, death and resurrection, as well as Jesus’ own predictions about his future, were all fulfilled, so much so that in proving the resurrection, these dots and pieces were put together and cited by the apostles in their preaching.

I believe in the resurrection because of the testimonies of eyewitnesses. The evangelists Matthew and John were apostles of Jesus; they saw, experienced, and wrote about the Resurrected Christ.

Mark was not one of the apostles, but he wrote about the resurrection based on the eyewitness account of Peter, an apostle.

Likewise, Luke was not among the twelve, but he wrote based on the teachings of Paul, the former Saul who used to persecute Christians, only to become Christ’s zealous apostle after meeting the Resurrected Christ on his way to Damascus.

Matthew, Mark, Luke, John and Paul all wrote about the resurrection, their writings based either on what they themselves have witnessed, or on what other witnesses had narrated to them.

St. Paul mentions that the Resurrected Christ appeared to more than 500 people at once, many of whom were still alive when he wrote about the said incident (1 Cor. 15:6).

If what St. Paul and the evangelists wrote were not true, those alive among the more than 500 eye witnesses could have protested. And if validation of any kind about the resurrection accounts were needed at that time, these 500 witnesses could have been summoned and questioned.

I believe in the resurrection because of the empty tomb, as written in all of the four gospel versions. Jesus’ body was nowhere to be found. Could it be that his dead body was stolen? This was of course a lie which the chief priests and the elders concocted.

Jesus’ tomb had a large stone at its door, too heavy to be unrolled as to escape the guard’s notice. And yes, the tomb was guarded by Roman soldiers operating under very strict rules and penalties for any infraction in the performance of duty.

The apostles, which the chief priests accuse of stealing the body, could not have done it, for they were all afraid and in hiding. And what they did after encountering the Risen Christ says a lot more.

From cowards trying to avoid the Jewish authorities, they became emboldened preachers, preaching the gospel of Christ who was crucified but who rose again on the third day.

In so doing, they suffered untold persecutions, torture and even death.

Would they endure pain and death for a perpetuated lie? And even if one would, will all of them do so?

Based on the teachings passed on by these courageous apostles, the Church as we know it today has grown across all nations, races, tongues and cultures.

For two thousand years, the message of Christ’s death and resurrection has continued to inflame the hearts of believers on that amazing love that God offers in Christ Jesus.

This perfect and unfailing love, which can only come from the God of love, is the greatest proof of the resurrection. This I believe.
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