Three Ways of “Looking” at Jesus’ Resurrection

March 25, 2018 by  
Filed under Wade's Weekly Word

When it comes to the resurrection of Jesus, we Christians are somewhat like humorist Ring Lardner when he looked out over that vast hole in the earth called the Grand Canyon for the first time. He wrote, “It is obvious that something has happened here.” When we look into the resurrection of Jesus from the tomb, it’s a classic understatement to say that it’s obvious that something has happened. For those who look with the gift of Holy Spirit illumination, they see that something incredible, stupendous, supernatural, and victorious has happened. On the other hand those who look only with human intelligence, see something implausible, impossible, and immaterial as far as daily living is concerned.

The truth of the matter is that we look with our eyes but see with our minds. Looking at the event of the resurrection isn’t a matter of seeing things as they really are, but seeing them as we are. How we look at things is based on what we’re like. This means that all our looking is done through a particular paradigm or worldview, so that we always see things, not as they are, but as we are.

From the scriptures we learn that there are basically three ways of looking at Jesus’ resurrection:

A Curious Glance into the Empty Tomb — John 20:5

“And stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in.”

The Greek word used for John’s “looking in and saw” is “blepei”. This is the common word for the way we look at most things throughout our day. It infers no more than a sweeping glance. The word means to see it, but not to see into it.

Many people today have the outlook toward the empty tomb that the disciple John initially possessed — that of the curious glance. The resurrection becomes the focus of their attention annually around Easter. They realize that something significant has transpired but it doesn’t make any difference in their daily lives.

Many people “experience” the resurrection today in this same shallow, superficial, powerless way. Their interest is casual, curious and kind. In fact, if they happen to attend church on Easter Sunday, they hear the music and are stirred. They listen to the sermon and “see” the Easter tokens with approval and appreciation, and may even join in with the rest when they give a hearty, Amen! But these sights and sounds make little if any difference in their spiritually dead hearts and absolutely no difference in their decent lifestyle. They don’t get a “good look” at the reality and response the resurrection requires. Their “seeing” is only casual and curious and leaves them with no objection to the resurrection and no life-transforming experience of it either.

A Critical Look at the Empty Tomb — John 20:6

“Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen cloths lying there.”

When Peter went into the empty tomb, he began to investigate every important detail, but he was baffled by what he saw at this point. The word, in verse 6 for his type of seeing, is “theorei,” and is the word from which we get our word “theory,” which gives us an insight into its meaning. Peter examined the situation inside the tomb carefully, critically, and questioningly, like a good detective would, trying to make sense out of what he was looking at. He began to develop a theory as to what the absence of the body of Jesus could mean. He looked critically and carefully, but he only had logical deductions and psychological sight. At this point, he could draw no real spiritual conclusions. He saw only with critical sight.

A critical look can be used to find the truth or only to prove what one has already precluded about the event.

A case in point is that of controversial and extremely liberal, Barbara Thiering, who, in her book, “Jesus The Man”, says Jesus was poisoned and did not die upon the cross, but was buried in a tomb which was actually a latrine. It was so cold he recovered with help from Simon Magus and Judas, who also had been crucified, their legs broken, and who were buried with Him. Jesus drank some aloe juice, which purged out the poison. The guard was really the latrine attendant. A second latrine attendant removed the stone, helped Simon Magus (who had both his legs broken) carry Jesus out. Mary Magdalene, who was pregnant to Jesus, was there but did not recognize Jesus standing there until He said “Mary”. He said, “Do not touch me,” because he was dirty from the diarrhea which expelled the poison. He and Mary traveled to Rome where he lived for thirty years.”

Speaking of imagination run riot! Where is the evidence to support these imaginings? There is none. These are speculative imaginings based on a false reading of the New Testament rejected by the vast majority of scholars.

Why does Thiering make these claims that the Resurrection of Christ is myth, not reality? Because myth, not reality, is the inevitable consequence of her presuppositions. She works from a basic assumption of prejudice against anything that is supernatural. She, and her liberal compatriots, believe only those things for which they can find a naturalistic explanation.

Yet there are many who love Jesus, like Peter and John, but still don’t have a “good look” at the implications of His resurrection.

Luke 24:12, “Then arose Peter, and ran unto the sepulcher; and stooping down, he beheld the linen clothes laid by themselves, and departed, wondering in himself at that which was come to pass.”

Peter was marveling to himself at what had happened; he knew something spectacular had happened because of the condition of the grave clothes, but he because he had forgotten the words of Jesus, he did not yet understand.

The fact is that you can know that Jesus rose from the dead, but unless you know something of His words as found in the Bible, it won’t make sense. Unless you know the basics of the life and teachings of Jesus, you don’t know that the resurrection means that the God has been glorified, propitiated and satisfied with the payment that Jesus made for our sins on the cross, and as verification of this, He raised Him from the dead. You don’t know that the cross was the payment and the empty tomb is the receipt. You don’t know that the resurrection proved that Jesus was who he claimed to be — God manifest in the flesh. You don’t know that death’s grip has been broken and it’s sting detoxified, and that it no longer has a hold on God’s redeemed people. You don’t know that when God’s love and man’s hate battled at the cross, God’s love won. You don’t know that because Jesus was raised from the dead, we can be resurrected in Him and that resurrection power can fill you this hour!

A Comprehending Look — John 20:8

“Then went in also that other disciple, who came first to the tomb, and he saw, and believed.”

The Greek word for saw is “eiden.” It describes the Holy Spirit illuminating, eye-opening, heart-reaching, life-transforming insight of a true believer in Jesus Christ. From this word we get our English word “idea.” John got the idea! He looked a second time looked through the trappings and trimmings on the inside of the tomb and saw the truth of the resurrection. He very well may have said, “Wow! Now I get it! I see!!!” Mary and Peter had sight, but John had insight.

Peter “entered” and “went on beholding” (present tense). What they were examining was the cocoon-like wrappings that were the customary coverings for a dead body in that time. Along with the mummy-like body wrappings, which extended up across the shoulders, there was a “napkin,” or a head covering. In a Jewish burial of that day, the head was wrapped in a separate covering which had the neck-space between it and the body-wrapping. The body of Jesus had “vaporized,” in effect; it had vanished, dematerialized, disappeared. Nothing had happened to the burial clothes at all. They had not been touched or manually rearranged. They were simply there but without the body.

When John saw this, he “believed.” John was the first to believe that Jesus was risen from the tomb even before he saw him. According to Luke 24:12,  Peter went away “wondering” still.

The resurrection of Christ is the starting point for a whole new way of seeing the world and everything in it!

In Acts 1, the resurrected Christ instructs His disciples concerning basically three things: His resurrected person; His present kingdom; and His powerful gift that was coming down after He went up – the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:3,6,7,5,8). In Luke 24:25-27). He opens the eyes of the Emmaus road disciples to a whole new way of understanding the Old Testament scriptures by revealing that He was the key to all scripture.

Through the death and resurrection of Jesus a new order of things had come into being.  Not just a new reality in the hearts of believers (although this is true), but there’s so much more  — there is a new reality in history.

In the resurrection of Jesus, the fullness of time has already come (Gal. 4:4); a new creation has been birthed (2 Cor. 5:17); the long-anticipated age of the Spirit foretold by Joel has arrived (Joel 2:28-32, Acts 2:17-21); the last days of this present evil age have come (Heb. 1:2; 1 Pet. 1:5,20; 1 John 2:18) as well as the first day of a new world (Acts 2:22-36; 2 Cor. 5:14-21; Gal. 6:15).  If we were to put this in a single sentence, we could simply say, as Paul did, that we are those upon whom the fulfillment of the ages has come (1 Cor. 10:11).

To receive the good news that is God-authored, Christ-centered, Cross-shaped, and Resurrection-empowered is to cease to be a last days people and become a new days people in a new age!

Jesus’ call for repentance was nothing less than renouncing all competing allegiances and abandoning all worldviews that precluded His resurrection from the dead.

John Newton wrote in his famous hymn about this kind of sight: “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now I’m found, was blind, but now I see.”

Have you taken a good look at the resurrection? Have you encountered the Resurrected Christ through the Word of God by the Spirit of God, so that you have really seen, not just casually, nor critically, but comprehendingly, that Jesus is alive and has initiated a new creation and is none other than your Lord and your God?





  My Zimbio


One Response to “Three Ways of “Looking” at Jesus’ Resurrection”
  1. Steve Allen says:

    Wade, this is so well constructed and says so much. I really appreciate the effort and time you take to teach. Thank you.

    Seeing with understanding or in-sight is the key to knowing isn’t it.

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