Jesus’s resurrection is so obvious in hindsight. He predicted it multiple times. As it approached, He focused more and more of His private teaching with His disciples on it. He told them. He explained it. He prepared them. He gave them instructions about what to do after it happened.
Yet, on Resurrection morning, not one of them connected the abstract with the reality. Andrew didn’t say, “It’s the third day. The tomb should be empty. Let’s head to Galilee.” Neither did Philip or John or James or any of the others. In fact, when the women came with the news that the tomb was empty and they had seen angels, “their words seemed to [the disciples] like idle tales, and they did not believe them.” (Luke 24:11) The very things that Jesus had repeatedly told them were discounted as silly stories.
Now, with two thousand years of theological sophistication behind us, we smile a patronizing smile at these guys who were so obtuse, so faithless, so forgetful …
And we complain about a culture that is hostile to us. (Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Matthew 5:11)
And we fret about the unrest in the world. (And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. Matthew 24:6)
And we don’t understand why no one will listen to our message. (Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it. Matthew 7:14)
And we wonder why things have to be difficult. (These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world. John 16:33)
Like the Twelve before us, we have trouble making the jump from abstract words to real life application. The words Christ spoke were not empty rhetoric. They were not sound bites or slogans. They aren’t meant to be empty mantras or feel-good platitudes. He intended to instruct, inform, and prepare His immediate followers and then by extension, generations that would come after, to operate as His church in the world. We shouldn’t be disheartened, caught off-guard, or frustrated because He told us ahead of time.
In fact, the opposition and the challenges we endure as individual believers and as the body of Christ, not only testify to Christ’s deity but should serve to strengthen our faith in Him and His promises.
And now I have told you before it comes, that when it does come to pass, you may believe. John 14:29