May 4, 2011

Luke 24:38

“And He said to them, ‘Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts?'”

The Post-Resurrection Ministry of Jesus

Part VII

“Why Do Doubts Arise in Your Heart?”

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      Doubts arise within our hearts in many ways about many things. Jesus understands our doubts, and always knows how to deal with them.  We may believe Jesus for one thing in our lives, and doubt Him regarding other matters. Only when we live in complete faith will all of our doubts be removed. Jesus encourages us and strengthens us to live from faith to faith, line upon line, and truth and upon truth.  He also trained His disciples to overcome their doubts about His resurrection, and start believing in the resurrected Savior.

      They Were Telling These Things In Luke 24:26,  we read that the travelers from the Emmaus Road had returned to the eleven disciples and related what had happened to them. I have Christian friends who do not like to talk about what is going on in their lives. I have other friends who cannot wait to tell the whole group about the great things God has done in their lives since the last time we had been together. When Jesus makes your heart burn within you, like these disciples, you too will love to tell about the power and wonder of knowing Jesus Christ. In Psalm 40:10, David told people about God’s faithfulness and salvation, and His lovingkindness and truth and righteousness; he did not keep silent or conceal it from the great congregation.  We should speak of Christ likewise.

      Jesus Stood in Their Midst.  Jesus suddenly appeared in a room that had been closed for fear of the Jews (John 20:19). As we saw yesterday, Jesus bid the believers “Peace be with you” (“Εἰρήνη ὑμῖν“) (Luke 24:36). 

       Startled, Frightened and Thought They Were Seeing  a Spirit.  The disciples’ emotions also reveal their spiritual state. In this case, they were startled by Jesus’ sudden appearance in their midst, even with the doors locked. We learn here that the resurrected body of Jesus was no longer limited by walls. We also see that the disciples were frightened.  Jesus always cares how you feel, and when you are frightened, He will help you. In Luke 24:37, the phrase “they thought they were seeing a spirit” caught my attention.  In fact, Jesus now will erase any doubt that they were not seeing a spirit as they thought about some incorporeal entity, that is, something without any kind of flesh and blood. We know that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 15:50), but Jesus was not a spirit as they were thinking about it. His body had been raised imperishable, incorruptible, immortal (1 Corinthians 15:53-54). Yet, it retains the marks of crucifixion and He will demonstrate those marks to the disciples.  Before He does, however, He takes time to confront the disciples over their troubled response to Him, and the doubts arising in their hearts. 

       Why Are You Troubled, and Why Do Doubts Arise in Your Hearts Jesus keenly observes people and fully understands their emotional and spiritual conditions (Luke 24:37). He has all knowledge as God in the flesh. In this case, He first observes and confronts the disciples by calling them “startled” (“πτοηθέντες“) and frightened (“ἔμφοβοι“). Jesus now asks why are they troubled (“τεταραγμένοι“). Jesus traced their fright and startled response to their thinking (“ἐδόκουν“). Because they thought they were seeing a spirit, they had a troubled response and fright. Jesus asks them a question, as He often did, to clarify and confront them with their response on the human level of emotions (Luke 24:38). Jesus will now link the problems with their thinking to their spiritual condition. Because they have doubts (“διαλογισμοὶ“) arising in their hearts, it affects their emotional response to Him. This word “doubts” relates to the word dialog in English. So often you can feel the rapid dialog within you when you encounter something unexpected, or spiritually frightening.  Remember their thinking about seeing a ghost gives rise to their fear and troubled feelings. Jesus intends to teach them about fear right here and now. Doubts often give rise to fear. When we encounter some spiritual event suddenly, like the sudden and unexpected appearance of Jesus in their midst, we all may be startled and troubled. The problem, however, is that the disciples did not expect Jesus to be alive, and they did not expect Him to appear in the midst of the disciples who were already afraid of the Jews (John 20:19). Jesus draws attention to their hearts (“καρδίᾳ“). Because they lacked faith in the resurrection of Jesus, they had doubts in their hearts that affected their thinking that in turn gave rise to fears.  If they were expecting to see a resurrected Jesus, their response would have been different. Notice too that Jesus had been providing witnesses to His resurrection, and building up the evidence of His living, glorified body to the women and the disciples. Jesus provides further indisputable proof of bodily resurrection, and He chooses His witnesses carefully. So, when fears arise in your heart and your spirit is troubled, go back and review your faith in Jesus. He will always provide more faith in Him and bid peace to you. Your fears do not have to control you any longer. You can live in joyful peace with Jesus right now by faith in Him. 

       Touch Me and See.  Jesus fully understands the gap between His prophecies concerning His death and resurrection to His disciples before He died and now their troubles, fears and doubts when He arose from the dead and appeared to them. He intends to deal with their spiritual doubts by providing physical proof of His resurrection. Jesus makes the larger point, however, that believers should always rely upon His promises and prophecies, because He will not make the same physical demonstrations to all men. In this case, however, He wants to convince these believers by the simplest of means, physical contact: “Touch Me” (Luke 24:39). Jesus told them to look at His hands and feet. He implies they will see the wounds from His crucifixion still in His glorified body. He clearly teaches them that He has flesh and bones, and that He is not a spirit. Jesus removes fears by providing absolute proof, in the most tangible form possible, of His resurrection and the fulfillment of His prophecies. We serve a risen Savior, with a real glorified body, with flesh and bones. His glorified body remains imperishable, and incorruptible (Psalm 16:10; Acts 2:27). Jesus will always deal with our fears, doubts, and thinking.  He cares for us, and wants us to trust Him fully and understand His absolute power over death. Jesus could have ascended straight to heaven, but instead His conducted His post-resurrection ministry to build faith, remove doubts and fears, and display His glorified body, with flesh and bones, to prove forever that He was not merely a spirit, but the crucified Jesus risen in power, and triumphant over death. Jesus showed them His hands and feet (Luke 24:40).

        Joy and Amazement.  The believers could not believe it when they saw His hands and feet, because of their joy and amazement (Luke 24:41). Jesus had removed their fears and troubles, and now they were enraptured with joy (“χαρᾶς“) and amazement (“θαυμαζόντων“). Jesus linked their unbelief at what they were seeing now to their joy and amazement. They were emotionally overpowered by His appearance and proof. Jesus now will go even further in providing proof of His bodily resurrection, and showing them He is not a spirit. He had triumphed over death, and everything He had ever said had been proved beyond any doubt, even theirs.

        Have You Anything Here To Eat?  Jesus asked for and received food, a piece of broiled fish, and He ate it before them (Luke 24:41-43). No longer could they doubt He was really standing before them, and it was Jesus the crucified Savior now risen from the dead. They were eyewitnesses not only of His life and death, but now became witnesses of the risen Savior who had eaten fish before their eyes. He was not a vision or illusion, but a living Savior with flesh and bones. Jesus placed the utmost value upon proving His bodily, fleshly resurrection, because without His resurrection we are still in our sins (1 Corinthians 15:17).

       So we learn more about the Post-Resurrection Ministry of Jesus.

       ●  Jesus knows our fears and troubles, and links them to our lack of faith in Him and His words.  He always cares for us and seeks to increase our faith in Him to banish our fears and doubts forever by His presence and power.

       ●  Jesus turns fears and doubts into joy.  He will do the same thing for you today when you study His Word, see the evidence, and bow down before the Risen Lord.  He loves you and wants you to believe in Him.

       ●  Jesus loves for us tell of His greatness, and testify of His living and loving presence in our lives.

Application for Today

        Today I want my doubts and fears to turn into joy. I may be amazed for a moment, as I see the power of Jesus Christ at work around me and in me today, but I will know that joy will prevail as I abide in Christ today.  Are you ready to let Jesus turn your doubts, fears and troubles into joy today?