Faith and Deliberate Hiddenness of the Evidence for Resurrection
Subsequent to resurrection of Jesus Christ on the third day — the first of many spiritual sabbaths to come (Matthew 28:1; Mark 16:2; Luke 24:1; John 20:1)— Jesus only would reveal Himself to those who, prior to His crucifixion, already believed in Him.
Rightly, some people wonder, if Jesus did indeed resurrect, why exactly did He not appear to His enemies — the Pharisees, Sadducees, and Romans; after all, that would be indisputable proof, both of His claims, and of His resurrection.
We arrive then at a Perfectly Rational Question that is deserving of a good and rational answer.
An important principle that undergirds relationship with Jesus Christ is the demand for faith. By it’s very nature, Faith demands evidence, reasons over evidence, then acts on evidence. Faith, however, does not demand facts, for facts are not the same as evidence. In truth, facts nullify demand for faith.
If a decision is based on facts, it cannot simultaneously be based on faith. Faith reasons over evidence, and prior to transformation of evidence into facts, acts on the evidence.
If you doubt that evidence and facts are not identical, consider the following illustration.
Using laws of mathematics, physics, astronomy etc., in the 1960s, the United States of America planned a mission to land men on the moon. There was good evidence that it could be done — all of the formal theory added up. There was reasoning over the evidence — application of all of the formal theory to building of the space craft had yielded exactly what was expected.
But did the USA know for a fact that the mission would be successful? Absolutely Not!!! Failure of the Challenger Mission in 1986 is a case in point.
Because space always will be uncharted waters, uncharted waters within which man does not live, as such cannot perfectly map, every mission to the Moon is an exercise of faith that reasons over the evidence.
So then, the mission to the Moon was premised on faith that was based on evidence, and that had reasoned over the evidence for arrival at reasonability of an attempt at landing men on the moon.
Every advancement within society which navigates something that never before had been done never is based on facts, rather is based on faith that reasons over evidence.
With respect to His disciples, all of the disciples of Jesus followed Him on basis of faith, that is, prior to a realization of who exactly He was, which is, The Messiah, that is, the one anointed by God to bring salvation from sin to man.
How do we know that all of His disciples followed Him initially by faith? Well, because, initially, they followed Him, only because they trusted the witness of John the Baptist. Once John the Baptist declared that Jesus is ‘the Lamb that takes away the sins of the world’, prior to arrival of any evidence for the assertion, the disciples began to follow Christ. While He would eventually have to ask the disciples to abandon all, and follow Him (Matthew 4:19), this was possible only because they already had, on basis of testimony of John the Baptist, begun to follow Him.
The Evidence that the disciples did not really have a deep understanding of who Jesus was when, initially they began to follow Him (words in brackets to follow mine in spirit of an amplified reading of Christian Scriptures)?
On the morrow, again, John was standing, and two of his disciples, and having looked on Jesus walking, he saith, “Lo, the Lamb of God;” and the two disciples heard him speaking, and they followed Jesus (John 1:35–37).
Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, was one of the two who heard from John (the Baptist), and followed him; this one doth first find his own brother Simon, and saith to him, “We have found the Messiah,” which is being interpreted, ‘The Anointed’ (John 1:40–41).
And having come near, they awoke Him, saying, ‘Master, master, we perish,’ and He, having arisen, rebuked the wind and the raging of the water, and they ceased, and there came a calm, and He said to them, ‘Where is your faith?’ and they being afraid did wonder, saying unto one another, “Who, then, is this, that even the winds He doth command, and the water, and they obey Him (Luke 8:24–25)?”
Initially, the disciples followed Jesus, only because they trusted in the person, character, and witness of John the Baptist. At timing of their following Jesus, they did not have a deep understanding of who Jesus is.
The disciples all acted by faith that reasons over evidence. The Initial Evidence? The Person, Character, and Witness of John the Baptist.
Now then to the question of Deliberate Hiddenness of Jesus after the Resurrection. Well, if Jesus appears to Pharisees, Sadducees, and Romans, He would be presenting not evidence, but fact, that is, the fact that He has resurrected.
In presence of presentation of facts, if those people were to believe, they would not believe on basis of faith that reasons over evidence, rather, they would believe because they see a fact. But belief that is rooted in fact is a contradiction, for belief implies an acting on evidence that cannot be shown to be factual. We have then that the words ‘belief’, or ‘faith’ cannot be associated with facts.
Facts are accepted, not believed. Belief or faith belies an acting on evidence that cannot be shown to be factual.
When, subsequent to His resurrection, Jesus appeared to those who already had, prior to His crucifixion, believed in Him, He was solidifying faith that already existed, not providing a fact in which to believe. Where there already is faith, every additional piece of evidence serves, not for transformation of faith into fact, but for bolstering of faith. When Jesus asked His disciples to poke their fingers into the holes in His hands, He was assuring them He was the same person who had taught them for three years plus, the same person who had been crucified on the cross.
The evidence that the relationship between Jesus and the disciples continued on basis of faith? The disciples would have to trust Jesus, wait in Jerusalem for an unspecified amount of time, until they received the baptism of The Holy Spirit, baptism that eventually arrived on the day of Pentecost. The Scriptural Evidence?
And lo, I do send the promise of my Father upon you, but ye — abide ye in the city of Jerusalem till ye be clothed with power from on high (Luke 24:49).
Yes, Jesus appeared to His disciples, but capacity of His disciples for remaining in relationship with Him continued to depend on their willingness to repose faith in Him about things promised that had yet to arrive.
We arrive then at crux of the reason as to why, subsequent to His resurrection, Jesus did not appear to His detractors. The evidence comes from the parable of the dead rich man in Luke 16:19–31. My focus here is on verses 27 through 31.
And he (the dead rich man) said, “I pray thee, then, father, that thou mayest send him to the house of my father, for I have five brothers, so that he may thoroughly testify to them, that they also may not come to this place of torment.” Abraham saith to him, “They have Moses and the prophets, let them hear them;” and he said, “No, father Abraham, but if any one from the dead may go unto them, they will reform.” And he said to him, “If Moses and the prophets they do not hear, neither if one may rise out of the dead will they be persuaded.”
In the parable of the dead rich man, Jesus unequivocally asserts that those who do not believe by faith cannot, on basis of appearance of a resurrected person, arrive at faith, for faith that is arrived at on basis of a fact is a contradiction, is something that cannot reasonably be expected to subsist.
If Jesus appeared to Pharisees, Sadducees, and Romans, still they would be unable to arrive at faith. In the impossibility of arrival at faith, appearance to them becomes nothing more than an act of Self Aggrandizement. Given Jesus and The Father do not practice vainglory, there was nothing to be gained from a post resurrection appearance to Pharisees, Sadducees, and Romans.
Whenever God asks people to believe, if they do not, prior to manifestation of what is promised by God, arrive at faith, arrival at faith becomes impossible, for once the promise materializes, it no longer can be acted upon by faith.
The Clinching Evidence?
But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him — Hebrews 11:6.
If you are to please God, you do not wait for evidence to become facts, for by the time evidence becomes fact, you no longer are able to arrive at faith. If the evidence is weighty enough, take the leap that takes you from the evidence to faith, for there never will come a time when you are able to get to God without any leap of faith.