Chapter 20 - Why doesn't Jesus appear to each of us?|
Just about everyone knows the story of Jesus' death and resurrection. The story is summarized in the Apostles' Creed. Jesus was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into hell. On the third day he arose again from the dead. He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty.
There is only one way for Jesus to prove that he rose from the dead. He had to appear to people. Therefore, several different places in the Bible describe Jesus' appearances after his death:
Being like Paul
When we look at these Bible passages, there is a question that comes to mind -- why did Jesus stop making these appearances? Why isn't Jesus appearing today?
It really is odd. Obviously Paul benefitted from a personal meeting with the resurrected Christ. Because of the personal visit, Paul could see for himself the truth of the resurrection, and he could ask Jesus questions.
So... Why doesn't Jesus appear to everyone and prove that he is resurrected, just like he appeared to Paul? There is nothing to stop Jesus from materializing in your kitchen tonight to have a personal chat with you. And if you think about it, Jesus really does need to appear to each of us. If Paul needed a personal visit from Jesus to know that Jesus was resurrected, then why wouldn't you?
It is an important question for the following reasons:
Praying to Jesus
What if we pray to Jesus like this: "Dear Jesus, please appear to us, as you did to Paul and the 500 brethren, so that we can see the evidence of your resurrection. In your name we pray, amen." Here is what Jesus has promised us in the Bible:
Matthew 7:7 Jesus says:
Isn't it odd that Nothing happens, given the fact that Jesus promises us that something will happen? Isn't it odd that nothing happens when, supposedly, Jesus is right here with us already, and materialization would be trivial for him?
What you will find, if you think about it, is that the situation we see here is exactly like the situation in Chapter 5. We have created a situation where coincidence cannot "answer" the prayer. The only way for this prayer to be answered is for Jesus to actually, unambiguously, materialize. In this situation, we also know that it is trivial for Jesus to materialize, that there would be many benefits if Jesus did materialize, that Jesus has supposedly materialized to other human beings, and that Jesus has promised to answer our prayer that he materialize.
How do we explain the fact that this prayer goes unanswered, no matter who prays, despite Jesus' promise that he will answer our prayers?
As you think about this, you will realize that Paul's story in the Bible must be false. Simply look at Paul's story like any judge in a courtroom would. What Paul's story in 1 Cor 15 is suggesting is entirely unprecedented - a man dead three days with mortal wounds came back to life. Yet there is no evidence that it is true, and there are many alternative explanations for what Paul is saying. Paul could be fabricating the story, Paul could have hallucinated or dreamed the meeting, Paul could have seen an imposter, etc. In addition, no one is seeing Jesus today, even though it would be trivial and obvious for Jesus to appear to people today just like he did with Paul.
Given this evidence, if this were any normal situation instead of a religious one, people would conclude that what Paul is saying is untrue. There is zero evidence to support Paul's story, zero reason to believe it, a motive to lie and plenty of alternative explanations. There is also the fact that much of the rest of the Bible contains provably false stories. Plus the fact that it would be trivial for Jesus to provide the evidence that Paul needs to confirm his story by reappearing on earth. Add to that the fact that Jesus has promised to answer our prayers but refuses to materialize when we pray to him. The only thing to do is to reject Paul's story. Every bit of evidence points to the fact that the resurrection story is a myth, nothing more.
What about Jesus' famous statement in the Bible, "Happy are those who have not seen yet still believe"? What you realize is that this statement creates the perfect cover for a scam. Let's say you are Jesus, you are a normal human being, you realize that you are going to die and you want to cover for this fact. Here is what you would say: "Happy are those who have not seen yet still believe." What you are saying is, "I exist, and the way I am going to show you that I exist is by not showing that I exist." For every other object in the universe, the way that we know it exists is because the object provides evidence of its existence. If there is no evidence for an object's existence, we call it imaginary (e.g. Leprechauns). But with Jesus, the lack of evidence is turned into evidence. Quite clever, but obviously a scam.
If the resurrection were true, then Jesus would be answering prayers as he promises in the Bible. He would also appear when people pray to see him. The fact is, as we saw in Section 1, there is no evidence whatsoever that Jesus answers prayers.
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