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A real reaction to real events.  Being a pastor, I’ve had many people share their grief with me.  There’s nothing more heart-breaking than the death of a loved one.  No matter how hard you try, you can’t escape the finality of it all, the suffocating loneliness, the unrelenting pain.

However, in the midst of this agony, several people have told me about something that gave them tremendous comfort.  In the immediate aftermath of their loved one’s death, they had a powerful experience of their presence.  Many other people have shared how they received “signs” assuring them that their loved one is in Heaven. 

The most heart-wrenching I ever heard was from a teenager who unexpectedly lost her dad.  Totally devastated by the news, she had a powerful experience the night he died.  She is sure her dad came to her and, in what seemed to be audible words, assured her he was OK and would be watching over her.  Her loss was so crushing and this experience so comforting, I so wanted to believe her.  But, being skeptical by nature, I couldn’t help but wonder if it was real.  It seems so obvious that these supposed signs and experiences are just figments of our imagination, ways to cope with a grief that is too overwhelming to bear otherwise. 

A real reaction to real events.

The last two weeks I showed how Jesus’ disciples’ initial reaction to the empty tomb and His “embodied” appearances—their doubt—assures us that these probably were real events.  When confronted with them, the disciples aren’t overcome with joy.  They aren’t moved to confess Jesus as their Risen Lord.  Scandaloulsy, they don’t think He’s risen.  In fact, they’re sure He couldn’t be.  And as I demonstrated, this is why we can trust what they’re telling us. 

In other words, because the disciples’ doubt makes the story so historically credible, the story is very likely describing real events: Three days after His crucifixion, the disciples did discover the tomb Jesus had been buried in empty.  Very soon after that, He did appear to them in a shockingly tangible form. 

A real reaction to real events.

But there’s one more piece to the puzzle—the striking corroboration provided by the disciples’ doubt.  Consider this example: If, from another booth, several of your co-workers swear they saw you eating at a local diner, that’s a pretty good reason to believe you were there.  They could be mistaken, however.  They might have just seen someone who looks a lot like you.  Similarly, if cell phone records indicated that you were at the diner’s location at the same time, that’s a good reason to believe you were there.  This also might not be accurate, however.  Someone might have stolen your cell phone. 

But when you combine these two facts, they corroborate one another in a way that virtually eliminates any mistaken identity.  The cell phone record corroborates what your co-workers claim to have seen.  In fact, the only real way you couldn’t have been there is if the person who stole your phone looked exactly like you—an extremely remote possibility!

In the same way, the disciples’ reaction to the empty tomb corroborates their reaction to the embodied appearances, and vice versa.  They’re shocked Jesus’ body is missing from His tomb and are sure someone else must have moved it.  Then, when they think they’re seeing Jesus appear to them with this same real body, they refuse to believe their own eyes.  A real body is missing from the tomb; seeing that same real body appearing to them is what so thoroughly bewilders them.   

A real reaction to real events.

So, why does any of this matter?  Knowing that there’s a Heaven; knowing that one day we can be reunited with our loved ones is the most comforting thing imaginable.  Powerful experiences and signs might reveal this is true.  But they might just as well be desperate projections of a grief-stricken imagination.

However, the disciples’ initial reaction both to the tomb and to the appearances—the striking way they corroborate each other—is one solid piece of evidence (among many others) that Jesus’ Resurrection was a real event. 

And this, this, is solid evidence there is a Heaven.

This is solid evidence that one day we can be reunited with our loved ones.

So what do you make of these signs and experiences?  Do you think they’re real?  Go to the “Contact E.J.” page of the Raising Jesus website and let me know what you think!  And please “Like” our Facebook page, subscribe to our YouTube channel, and keep telling your friends about us.  I really appreciate all the support you’ve been giving me!

About Me

E.J. Sweeney is a true skeptic. He needs to see to believe. Hard Evidence. Compelling Proof. Solid Logic. This is what he believes in. In college, he encountered questions that the superficial faith he was raised on couldn’t handle. So he began a quest for Truth, a quest for the answers to life’s ultimate questions.

EJ Sweeney

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