It’s amazing how many things people remember after the fact. When somebody does something heroic and news reporters check with the neighbors they’ll often remember what a good kid that person was as they grew up. When someone is discovered to be involved with evil things and the news crew checks with the neighbors, people are shocked at first. They’ll remind reporters that the child was a good kid. And then it will hit them. “Well, they used to fry ants with a magnifying glass.” Or “They always were a bully towards the other kids.” Memory can be a funny thing. I can’t help but wonder if the roles were reversed in the above examples, if the memories would reflect the reversal.
Memories sometimes play tricks on us. At other times memories help fill in the gaps when you’ve been so involved in activities that you haven’t had time to reflect. The Bible talks about this in regards to the disciples early in the book of John. John describes the clearing out of the Temple at a much earlier time in the ministry of Jesus than the other gospels. Some believe that Jesus cleared out the Temple twice. I believe that John told it earlier because he arranged the book differently. Whatever the case, in the discussion, Jesus predicts His death and resurrection as He mentioned that if they tore down the Temple (meaning His body, not the building) He would raise it again in three days. The disciples heard this spoken in the “heat of battle” but it didn’t strike them until after His death and resurrection. “After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken.” (John 2:22)
Perhaps it was a lot easier to believe Jesus after He was raised from the dead. After all, it sounds pretty crazy to be going around telling people, “Hey! After you kill Me, I’m gonna come back from the dead and show myself to you.” I’m sure that when Jesus said that while He was walking with them, confronting Pharisees and Sadducees, or teaching the people, they pretended not to hear most of the time. There was that one time that Peter rebuked Him by telling Jesus that this could NEVER happen to Him. The truth is, that none of the disciples caught on to the fact that Jesus was trying to make it clear to them what was going to happen. When Jesus went to the cross, and died, they were finished. Dead was dead. And then, Jesus rose from the dead, revealed Himself to the disciples, and after they all did a unison facepalm, suddenly remembered that this was what Jesus had been talking about all along.
Sometimes you hear followers of Christ talk about how much easier it would be to believe Jesus if He were walking with us right here on earth. All I can say is that the disciples did walk with Jesus and they overlooked this teaching of the coming resurrection out of incredulity, or perhaps a slight fear about the sanity of Jesus. After all, everything else He taught was good stuff, so they could overlook a little craziness because everyone knew that you didn’t come back from death. Death was usually fatal. If the disciples who walked with Jesus didn’t get that, we need to remember how hard it can be for others to believe. The belief that sets us apart from other religions is that Jesus rose from the dead and that was verified by people who were alive less than 2000 years ago. We have the Bible to guide us; the knowledge of His resurrection; and the support of friends and family who also have committed their lives to Christ. We may have crises of faith at times, but we always have the Scriptures, the Holy Spirit and God’s people to strengthen and encourage us in our faith.
Lord, it’s not always easy to believe. Sometimes the cares of this world tear at our faith. Keep us in Your love and help us share the good news of Jesus with others.