A different kind of resurrection prophecy?

10 11 2009

Yesterday I wrote a talk for church on Luke 24:1–12. It’s such an interesting passage, and one of the things that comes out at me is how Jesus (might have) predicted the unbelief that followed the discovery of the empty tomb.

First, there are many references to unbelief in the passage:

v.1 = the women bring spices for Jesus’ dead body

v.3 = they didn’t find the body

v.4 = they were wondering about this

v.5 = the angels ask: ‘why are you looking for the living among dead?’

v.6 = ‘don’t you remember what he told you?’

v.8 = then they remembered

v.11 = the apostles did not believe the women

v.12 = After running to the tomb, Peter left wondering what happened


I think this may have been what Jesus had in mind in Luke 18:8: ‘When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”

In other words, with Jesus’ resurrection, not only were his own words (and those of the prophets) fulfilled, in that he was raised after three days, but his prediction regarding lack of faith at his ‘coming’ was also fulfilled.


Posted by Con Campbell



6 responses

10 11 2009
Gordon Cheng

Good one Con! That makes a lot of sense.

And I see that the theme of unbelief carries right through


v 41 And while they still disbelieved for joy and were marveling

and even Acts 1:11 “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”

15 11 2009
Con Campbell

For sure! And at the end of Luke 24, they still think they’re seeing a ghost in spite of the angels’ testimony, and that of the blokes from Emmaus.

13 11 2009
Neil Foster

Very interesting, I agree, Con. In 24:25 Jesus uses very strong words to criticise two disciples who are standing in front of him and don’t get it: “Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared!” Later in the upper room, when the others are “startled and terrified”, he says in v 38 “Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts?” We tend to excuse the disciples because of course a resurrection seems impossible; but perhaps we are incidentally excusing ourselves for our unbelief in the promises of the Bible. Certainly the disciples had seen Jesus do some amazing things, and they had had his very explicit promises of what would happen. They (like us) should have known they could trust the word of God and of Jesus, and not been so amazed when his promises came true!

15 11 2009
Con Campbell

Good point, Neil. They keep being rebuked on the basis of scripture and/or Jesus’ words. It’s their failure to accept such words that is at the heart of their disbelief.

2 12 2009
Jonathan Peart

Isn’t it the old hermeneutical problem of unexamined presuppositions. What was the disciples eschatology? Perhaps it was inconceivable for Lazarus or Jesus to rise from the dead before the end of time – when the general resurrection was expected?. Lacking the anointing of the holy spirit at the time they did not have ears to hear what we take as the bleeding obvious. Note the ‘we had hoped he (Jesus) was the one’. Jesus death proved he wasn’t the Messiah – given their erroneous presuppositions. Jesus then explains from the scripture ‘No, my death and resurrection prove I am the messiah’

Also for my 2 bobs worth, I reckon the context of Luke 18:1-8 points towards Jesus final coming not a prediction of lack of faith regarding Jesus’ resurrection. Definitely has affinity with Luke 24, but how does it align with the point of the parable ‘always pray and never give up-because God will give justice’. The disciples were supposed to pray to avoid temptation before Jesus’ crucifixion but it seems to better align with long haul waiting for Christ’s 2nd return. Secondly does Christ’s resurrection or second return align better as a justice bringer? Third, does ‘coming of the son of man’ align well with resurrection? Fourth, the context of 17:20-37 seems to tied coming of the Son of Man to destruction, sheep and goats scenario ‘one taken and another left’, apocalyptic/end of the world/judgement day kind of stuff.

while ‘however’ (luke 18:8) could contrast with all before it I think it needs to refer to the same event to work as the punchline to the parable (18:1-8) and 17:20-37 which the ‘then’ in 18:1 seems to tie 18:1-8 to as one narrative event (17:20 ‘once when…’).

Any of that hold water?

2 12 2009
Con Campbell

Well, unexamined presuppositions cut both ways. We assume Jesus is referring to his second coming, but is this right? The “coming of the Son of Man” obviously refers to Daniel 7, in which the son of man approaches the Ancient of Days and received all glory, honour, and power. I think Luke 24 and Acts 1-2 presents Jesus as approaching the Ancient of Days, beginning with the resurrection, through the ascension, and culminating in Peter’s pentecost speech, in which Christ is declared as sitting at God’s right hand.

In addition, when is justice done? When is evil overthrown? Is it not in Christ’s death and resurrection? If Luke 18 points to the eschaton, Jesus’ resurrection is the eschaton brought forward, which is precisely whey the NT operates with a now-not-yet eschatology.

So, in short, I agree that the key is eschatological presuppositions, but I would want to challenge the status quo on these.

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