Why would Jesus have to go away and send the Comforter, also called the Holy Ghost?
Why could He not stay on earth and daily “prove” that He was the resurrected Christ or Messiah (Anointed One) sent from God to redeem the world from sin?
Could He not hold news conferences to show that He was alive from the dead?
Could He not show His wounds in His hands, feet and side in a continual world tour? Although He would have a lot of ground to cover!
Consider in history when God DID show up in unmistakable experiences. He revealed Himself through Moses and Aaron in spectacular fashion to both Pharoah and the Egyptians as well as the Israelite community living in the land of Goshen in northern Egypt. He led them for 40 years in the wilderness of Sinai (they were not wandering; they followed a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night). (See Exodus 13:17-22; and chapters 14–16.)
And look how often they grumbled against Moses and God who had delivered them! So much so that an entire generation was forced to die in the desert before their children could inherit the Land of Promise. Apparently even God’s obvious Presence was not enough to discourage sin in the camp!
In Craig Keener’s book, Miracles Today, he perceptively asks “How much evidence does it take to convince someone [a miracle occurred]?… If I am adamant that miracles are impossible, in principle I might reject any amount of evidence. If I already trust God, I will thank God for even the smallest details of life… God doesn’t do miracles for our entertainment.”
Likely a true anecdote, in the story of Poor Lazarus and The Rich Man (Luke 16:19-31), the rich man is in anguish having gone to hell while Lazarus is comforted at Abraham’s side (a ‘pre-Heaven,’ so to speak). The rich man begged Abraham to allow Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water to cool his tongue. When Abraham said this was impossible, the rich man asked if Lazarus could go back from the righteous dead and warn his five brothers, so they could avoid winding up where the rich man was.
“But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ And he said, ‘No, Father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’” (verses 29-31)
On another occasion (Matthew 12:38-40), Jesus was asked for a “sign” to prove His divine credentials. “But He answered them, ‘An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” I.e., He was announcing that He would rise from the dead! This was a frequent claim of Jesus, so clear that His opponents even asked for the sealing of His tomb to prevent a fraudulent claim that He had done so. (Matthew 27:62-66)
These were people who knew Jesus could heal the blind, restore shriveled arms, open deaf ears and even raise the dead (John 11:38-53)! Yet, their hearts would not believe, no matter what evidence they saw. Think logically, and how do you kill someone who can raise the dead!? Yet that is what they proposed to do. In John 12:8-11, they even plotted to murder Lazarus because he had been raised from the dead!! Couldn’t any of them spell “irony” in Hebrew? How do you kill someone if Someone else can just raise him from the dead!?
“Faith” in the Bible is more than just mental assent. In the Complete Jewish Bible, the words both from the Hebrew and Greek are most often translated as “trust.”
A little boy was asked to define “faith,” and he said “It’s believing something you know just ain’t true.” 😁 But obviously, that is not the case in the Bible. Faith is trust; it is accepting the evidence with an open mind and relying on God to do what only He can do – save lost people from hell and give us eternal life.
Let’s suppose for a minute that Jesus DID stay here on earth in His resurrected body.
- First, how would He prove that He was really 2000+ years old? Maybe the history books, all obviously written with His approval, are like claims of Roman Emporers being gods.
- Second, how would He prove to ME that He had really died. If I only live 70-90 years, how do I know that He is not just longer-lived and will not die after me?
- Third, how do I know the wounds in His hands, feet and side were not inflicted just before I was born?
In order for ME to believe that He could come back from the dead, I WOULD HAVE TO SEE HIM DIE ALL OVER AGAIN! … unless I trust Him and His followers. And if I do not trust them, why would I trust Him even if He arose from the dead in MY presence again?
Abraham’s words ring true: “If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.” We know this is true because He arose from the dead, and the Pharisees of His time still tried to quash the rumor that He was alive. Yet they could not produce a body nor show where He was laid, because He IS RISEN!
Jesus knows what is in our hearts, and how we resist the truth as the unbelievers of the first century did. So He sent the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, to woo us, to persuade us, to open our blind eyes and allow us to see the Evidence That Demands a Verdict. Jesus promised Thomas, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:29)