When you witness the devastation of another person’s sin, it’s hard to believe that they can come back from that with any kind of new life or anything of value to offer.
One of the hardest things for people to accept is grace. Sin is a death to something.
We say that we believe the story of Jesus. However, we weren’t there to witness the dust on the roads or breeze in the air that surrounded him. We can grasp it in the same way we can grasp a fairy tale. We can be dreamy and hopeful enough to say we believe in it, but what would it be like to actually be there to witness it?
I think you can find at least a hint of an answer in the way you think about sin and grace. Equate it with death and life. Watch a person hang from the noose of their own sin and then try to believe in the resurrection of grace. It’s hard to accept it, especially if you witnessed the death yourself.
The cross was still there. The grave was occupied. There is no doubt about that.
The pain of sin is still there. You saw them fall to their death. There is no doubt about that.
The women went to the tomb armed to tend to the stench of a decaying body. It doesn’t matter how devoted they were to Jesus, they still went through the motions of death.
Christians are very good at damage control. They carry their satchel of spices intended to mask the stench of death, sealing the fallen in a tomb meant for the dead. It doesn’t matter how well they know the Gospel, they still go through the motions of death.
If those women found a body in that tomb, then the story would be over. He’d be chalked up as just another ego-maniac claiming to be God’s gift to the world.
If you go to the cemetery of fallen Christians and are able to find anyone there, then something has gone horribly wrong.
“Why do you seek the living among the dead?” -Luke 24:5 ESV
The women were afraid and confused. Those who saw Jesus pulled away from him like he was a ghost.
Seeing someone, whose sin you witnessed, stirs up confusing emotions.
We can believe a lot of things. But life after something like this…it’s too much. We’re trying to make sense of it all, but we’re looking at an empty grave to give us answers and ignoring the new life that is walking, talking and eating right in front of us.
It would be so much simpler if the dead stayed dead. But Jesus woke up and He walked out.
Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them kept telling these things to the apostles, but the apostles didn’t believe a word of it, thought they were making it all up. -Luke 24:9-11
Any time you tell a story of sin and grace, there are people who can’t get past the sin and don’t believe a word of the grace. When a person gets up and walks out of their tomb, there are a lot of people who think they’re just making up their remorse.
The resurrection of Jesus makes grace possible. He walked out of His tomb so that all of us sinners can walk out of ours.
When you have a hard time trusting in the ability of grace to transform a person instead of leaving them to rot, then you have to come to terms with your inability to trust that Jesus really is who he says he is.
“So thick-headed! So slow-hearted! Why can’t you simply believe all that the prophets said? Don’t you see that these things had to happen, that the Messiah had to suffer and only then enter into his glory?” -Luke 24:25-26
There is an order to this Kingdom life. It starts with death and ends with life.
If you’re in the middle of sorting ghosts and gory memories, it’s okay. It’s part of the process. The disciples didn’t believe the man was Jesus until they spent time ‘breaking bread’ with him.
Here is what happened: He sat down at the table with them. Taking the bread, he blessed and broke and gave it to them. At that moment, open-eyed, wide-eyed, they recognized him. -Luke 24:29-31
They went to tell some of their friends and those friends brought up a storm of doubts and questions. Jesus met with those people, too.
“Don’t be upset, and don’t let all these doubting questions take over. Look at my hands; look at my feet—it’s really me. Touch me. Look me over from head to toe.” -Luke 24:38-39
They stood back in disbelief while they watched him eat a piece of leftover fish. Did they look through their eyebrows when they watched him? Could he feel their doubt burn into his scars? Grace, life after death, seems too good to be true. Humans pride themselves on their wisdom and you know what they say about something that seems too good to be true.
Jesus was patient with their doubt because he knew the truth. If you’re experiencing the doubt of others about you, be patient while you wait for restoration.
If you are having trouble trusting, forgiving, or believing the resurrected life of someone you watched ‘die’, then maybe you should spend time with them like the disciples did with Jesus. Maybe it’s time for you, too, to ‘break some bread’ so you can leave the graveyard behind.
Here are the practical things you can take away from Luke 24:
- You know you have issues with faith when you have a hard time believing someone can be restored after one of the ‘big sins.’ With this in mind, you hardly have time to pick them apart when you realize you don’t even believe Jesus was raised from the dead.
- A blow to your faith that, (as far as you knew) was intact prior to this experience, is normal and Jesus has an absurd amount of patience while you catch up.
- Doubt about another person’s healing in the aftermath of sin can be addressed over a meal (or seven). Spend time with them. Listen to them. Doubting is not the problem, writing them off as frauds is. Get over yourself and call that person you watched die. (or their ghost will haunt you. 😉 )
- It’s time to break bread.
“The proof of the pudding is in the eating.” -Matthew 11:19