On the third day following the crucifixion, the women went to the tomb and found the stone rolled away. Jesus’ body was not there. The women were afraid, sad and bewildered because they thought someone had taken His body away. However, two angels appearing as men dressed in white were there and said to them, “Do not be afraid. He is not here; He has risen, just as He said.”
Several times during His ministry, Jesus foretold of His death and resurrection. On one occasion He was speaking to His disciples as written in Matt. 17:22-23 (NASB), “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men; and they will kill Him, and He will be raised on the third day.”
The Jews in Jerusalem also heard that same message. In John 2:19 (NKJV) Jesus said, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” During Jesus’ mock trial He was accused of saying those things, and for claiming that He was the Son of God.
After the women learned Jesus was alive, they remembered His words from Luke 24:7 (NKJV), “The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.” They went quickly to tell the apostles the Lord had risen, but to them, the women’s words seemed like nonsense. The apostles did not believe the women until they remembered what Jesus had said to them.
Peter and John ran to the tomb to see for themselves as recorded in John 20:9, because as yet they did not understand the Scripture that He must rise from the dead.
John 20:25,27-28 reveals that Thomas doubted the resurrection of Jesus and would not believe until he could put his fingers into the nail holes in His hands and feel His pierced side. After Thomas touched Jesus’ wounds he finally believed and exclaimed, “My Lord and my God!” Then Jesus said to him in John 20:29 (NKJV), “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
The disciples and the women, as well as many others, had heard the teachings of Jesus. They had witnessed His miracles, they had walked with Him, they had talked with Him, they had prayed together and had eaten meals with Him. They loved Him and claimed to believe that Jesus was who He said He was.
Then, why didn’t they believe Jesus when He foretold of His resurrection on the third day? Why weren’t they all gathered near the tomb very early that morning anxiously waiting and expecting Him to immerge from that grave at any moment? Where was their faith in Him and in His promise to them?
Instead, they were fearful, confused and doubted that He was really alive. They had forgotten His words to them. Only after it had been proven to them that He was indeed victorious over death and the grave did they believe and fully understand that He was truly the Lord God.
Jesus’ disciples and the others interacted with Him regularly during His short three-year ministry, yet they quickly forgot or doubted the promise of His resurrection. Now, since nearly two thousand years have passed, how much easier and more likely would it be for us to lack faith, forget the Scriptures, or ignore His promise of the things that must soon take place in our day? As Jesus said in Luke 18:8b (NASB), “However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?”
Where is your faith today? Do you have a rock solid belief and unshakeable assurance that His prophecies concerning us will be fulfilled exactly as written? Or…do you have an “I will believe it when I see it” attitude toward future prophecy like many of the folks in Jesus’ day?
Just as the resurrection prophecy was perfectly fulfilled, hundreds of others have been fulfilled exactly as foretold – each one at its appointed time. All of the remaining unfulfilled prophecies will surely happen as well. They will be fulfilled literally as they were in the past, and they will affect all of mankind. In 2 Peter 1:19, the apostle Peter warns us that we must pay attention to all prophecy. Bible prophecies are rapidly being fulfilled today and everyday in these last days. Are you by faith watching them unfold as the Scriptures command us to do?
Where is your faith concerning Jesus’ promise of the rapture and second coming? Do you view either of those promised events with an “I will believe it when I see it” attitude? If so, when they occur it will be too late. You see, the Bible teaches that Jesus will return only for those who have placed their complete faith and trust in Him, and have believed all His promises. His return is certain, it will happen suddenly, and it will happen at a time when we aren’t expecting it – just as He said! Scripture commands that we must watch, pray, and anticipate Jesus’ return at any moment.
We must accept and believe all of scripture’s promises by faith and by faith alone. Faith is defined in Heb. 11:1 as being sure of things hoped for and certain of things not seen. As is recorded in 2 Cor. 5:7 (NKJV), “For we walk by faith, not by sight.” Heb. 11:6 warns that without faith it is impossible to please God. Salvation is offered to us by God’s grace through faith alone, not a result of any works as explained in Eph. 2:8.
If Jesus should return today, would He find a strong and steadfast faith within you? Are you prepared to meet Him face to face? Are you longing for that day with the confidence and assurance that can only come through faith in Him? If you’re not sure, then perhaps you haven’t truly met Him at the cross. If that describes you, I would urge you to invite Him into your life as your Savior and Lord now before it’s too late. He is patiently waiting at the door of your heart for you to let Him in.
You must reach out to Him by faith to receive the gift of salvation He freely offers to us. After you realize that you are eternally lost in sin and need the Savior in your life, then humbly bow down before God in prayer to confess your sins and ask Him to forgive them. Invite Jesus into your heart as your Savior and the Lord of your life. If you are sincere in your desire to live your life for Him, then God will hear your prayer as He has promised.
1 John 1:9 (NKJV)
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Romans 10:9,10 (NASB)
That if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.
John 5:24 (NKJV)
Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.
Romans 10:13 (NKJV)
For whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.
Before we can claim God’s promise of salvation, it must be believed and accepted by faith alone. When Jesus returns soon, will He find true faith in your heart and life? Your eternal destiny depends on how you can answer that question. As He said to Thomas many years ago, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
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Of a truth, Jesus will not find faith in the world when He returns. But He will find faith in the Church which He founded and assured that the gate of hell will not prevail over it. Our effort should be geared not towards saving the world, the end of which has been determined by God, but to lead as many as we can to Christ whose will is to deliver men from this present, faithless evil world. God bless you.
Since "faith comes by hearing" the Word, Jesus will find faith only as we are allowed to proclaim the Word (and He prepares hearts to receive it). Now, while we still have that option, is our window of opportunity to proclaim the Good News, as your writer's heart is so obviously burdened to do. God bless your every effort in this regard!