When Jesus was resurrected, why didn’t he show himself to the Sanhedrin? Wouldn’t that have proved his divinity once and for all, to have the people who wanted him dead confessing to the world their error?
Joined: Sat Oct 17, 2015 10:51 am
It wasn’t his mission plus in the Parable of the Rich Man & Lazarus , Jesus said they wouldn’t have believed even if he had been raised from the dead.
I think you are mistakenly treating the Sanhedrin as a unified force. Since they consisted of, what, 21 to 23 people? I am pretty sure Jesus would have had at least one person on the Council in his favor, namely, Joseph of Arimathea and quite possibly more. Also, the council was thought to have a mix of Pharisees and Sadducees. One would think Jesus would have used his wisdom the way Paul did and cause them to split over the issue.
Jesus also decided to show himself to Thomas who said he would not believe until he could see it for himself. In all the translations I looked at, Thomas was forceful and said he would NEVER believe until he was able to do verify 3 things, and what do you know? God did as he asked, or rather, demanded according to the text.
From my own experience, I no longer believe affirmatively. I have searched, experienced visions, and had many moments where I’d say “God had to be at work here”. I had changed character and eventually came to believe that I don’t believe. One website that really convinced me and was difficult to go through and be honest about was, “Why won’t God heal amputees?”. God, in Christian circles, seems to heal everything from Cancer to Tumors, to ailments that can’t be confirmed. But he never causes people to grow limbs back. Isn’t that interesting? The miracles seems to be limited to something that cannot be verified. Now, I have certainly heard stories of this happening, but somewhat the evidence is always out of grasp… “Forgot who it was…”, “I heard it from a friend…”, “I’ll try and get the evidence”, etc… You never hear back. God loves to heal trivial ailments while leaving the serious ones at work, apparently. You see it when Christian’s give thanks that god healed their bad head-ache, or sore back/hip. Yet, your neighbor next door lost her hands to some flesh eating disease and remains unhealed. Thousands of amputees, none healed. Why is that?
So, why didn’t Jesus show himself to the ruling council? Because maybe he didn’t rise? Thomas sure didn’t think he did, well, not until Jesus said “Here I am dummy!”.
So, the problem of evil takes down another good man? I’m sorry to hear that, AG.
Our inability to answer the questions brought about by God’s seeming absence is sometimes overwhelming. It is however one problem among many affirmations, after all. It IS a ‘biggie’, I grant you; but it is not head and shoulders above other huge positives.
It’s my hope that you will affirm your faith once again, while still feeling the force of that question and still seeking an answer. Ive benefited from your honesty over the years.
Dave, that is kind of you to say. I love everyone here, even the ones who seem to react negatively (I hope there isn’t too many of these!) to me. I know sometimes I am blunt, crass, etc… But I have no i’ll will towards anyone here and I mean that. Of all religions, Christian Universalism is the one I want to be true and not only that, but it is the only one I find plausible, aside from a more abstract Universalism (God in everything, type belief, though not quite pantheism). But, you are quite right, “The Problem of Evil” is what effectively brought me to an agnostic position. I find myself like many Psalm’s “Where are you God? How long are you going to let this go on? I cry day and night”… Those are real type prayers from me, and truth me told, I still pray, because, He might just be there listening.
“The Problem of Evil” is what effectively brought me to an agnostic position. I find myself like many Psalm’s “Where are you God? How long are you going to let this go on? I cry day and night”… Those are real type prayers from me, and truth me told, I still pray, because, He might just be there listening.
I have a very unpopular view of evil in Christianity which is that God uses evil as a tool in shaping humanity. My thinking is if God made the universe then He can do anything including ending evil yet he doesn’t. He even allowed His beloved Son to die a painful death instead of wisking him up to Heaven. I might think God is a monster but I believe everything Jesus says about his Father so I accept the “greater good” theory which few people agree with but in my mind it reconciles the best with the bible and the reality of life. I first read about this concept from L Ray Smith at bibletruths.com
So maybe it’s me and I’m a bit weird… totally possible but I don’t see this “problem of evil” in terms of it being an apparent case against God. ‘Evil’ per sé is simply the bad actions of man — God has shown a way around this but it’s up to US… we can’t blame God or some devil, but must take accountability for our own actions. As I see it… there is NO ethereal or cosmic much less personified ‘evil force’ “out there” to get us, no, evil or good is in our hands to do, period.
The problem, in some people’s minds, is not the evil - it’s the fact that God is guilty for even creating. And the least He could do would be to create perfectly - that is, us unable to sin. And if not that, then stop the sin before it happens.
It always ends up God’s fault - in some minds. Not my mind - I like your answer.
I’ll give you my perspective on why I see God, ultimately being responsible for it.
God gave us the ability to “kill” each other. God could have very well set the limits to what other humans could do to other humans to mere “boo-boos”. Instead, he gave man the power to lord over millions, perhaps billions and in very cruel ways.
Natural Disasters. Whether he actively creates them, or set the plan in motion, the fact of the matter is that thousands, perhaps millions of people die in a single tsunami for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
You don’t curse an entire race due to a mistake, or a rebellion. A) It was unreasonable for a God who is strong enough to do anything, to expect Adam to never go against him. Who created who here? I mean really? and B) To damn the entire race AND world because of your imperfect creation?
Let’s ask some questions of what human’s do.
Would an adult human give their young children knives to play with at a playground? Why not? Because they might kill someone, right? But, God allows this…
Would you setup a perfect world (I laugh when ID’s say this world is perfect, because it clearly isn’t) where masses of people, women, children, die to Tsunami’s Volcanic eruptions, etc…?
I’ll grant you that men do evil to men, but how in the world does this get God off the hook?
Look, I’d buy your argument if you this world had no disease, natural disasters and clear and concise instructions that could not be easily misunderstood. So when men did evil things, we can blame them. But not all evil can be pinned on man, and not all men can necessarily be blamed for their ignorant/evil ways. Technically, none of them can as we didn’t get clear instructions, though you may cite general revelation and moral decency, which I grant, somehow seems to exist.
I see the ability to err as a means for growth, and that I guess was God’s calculated risk in creating creatures after himself, i.e., having choice… as such however in this God gives guidance for choice.
Exactly right and one of the keys to the human condition. How do we learn almost everything, by experience. Even the experience of evil , much as we despise it, hate it, think it unjust, it serves a noble purpose which is helps us identify and appreciate good by the contrast.
I can accept that on the grounds that Adam never fell, and it was planned from the beginning. I don’t think God took a chance at anything. Chance implies lack of knowledge as to the outcome. If God doesn’t know the outcome (and maybe he doesn’t) then he isn’t omni-everything. I have hypothesized in past posts months ago that God maybe in’t as all powerful as we think. That maybe he has limitations, but is still far beyond us. I find that plausible as it could get God out of this bind, as I see it. Still, I don’t quite accept it because I see this as the “ends justifies the means” and I find that quite scary, especially since humans use that reasoning for atrocities.
Gabe, I’ve never found you crass or mean spirited, but generally full of grace. I love your honesty, and indeed, even your conclusion here in the face of real difficulties for belief. I have never seen any claim to miraculous healing that I wasn’t skeptical about. And I have long said, the only real problem for belief in the concept of God is the problem of evil, but man, it is a huge challenge! The only real hope for any ultimate solution to horrendous evil can appear torpedoed by the existence of the need itself. Any actual ‘God’ worth much surely must appreciate that this is a steep hill for us to climb.
Gabe, if you’ve never read “The Problem of Pain” by CS Lewis, I highly recommend it. I found it immensely helpful. I also highly recommend [tag]JasonPratt[/tag]'s “Sword to the Heart.” (There’s a link to a free PDF in the signature of all his posts.) It’s a challenging read (for me, anyway), but very much worth it.
Short answer on natural catastrophes. If we did not have an environment that was indifferent to us, we could not know ourselves as separate entities. The earth does what it WILL do and we can only respond. Accidents happen. We can work to prevent them, but when they do happen, we can only respond. This does teach us to care for one another and maybe that’s some mitigation. The bottom line, though, is that the earth is also a separate entity and while I don’t believe it’s rational (maybe one day it will become so), it is necessarily unresponsive to us. Otherwise we would not know it as separate from ourselves. If we were unable to act in ways that hurt one another (where would you draw the line?), we would not know ourselves as distinct individual beings. God has in fact drawn a line. We are not capable of causing any harm to one another that HE cannot (and one day WILL) repair and even use to our benefit. This life is short and any fully healed harm (that includes healing the post-traumatic stress) dwindles to mathematically nothing in the face of eternity. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t matter. It matters a great deal, but God will not allow any one of His creatures to damage any other of His creatures in any permanent way. Those of us who stand outside the hurt are tasked to prevent it if we can and to mitigate it to the best of our ability if we cannot prevent it. Ultimately, God is the comforter and the healer. But the wicked must be permitted to be wicked to the extent of their power (saving God’s occasional, rare intervention for purposes which perhaps none but He can know or even understand.) The power of the wicked is far, far short of infinite, but God’s power is infinite to heal, restore, and ultimately to bring fullness of joy.
Miracles are miracles BECAUSE they hardly ever happen. If they happened all the time, they would be laws of nature. Gravity isn’t a miracle; it’s a given. We never remark on the fact that we don’t fall off the planet into outer space because that’s just the way things work. Nevertheless, the physicists continue to marvel at it. Gravity is an everyday miracle. We call it a law. To us, it’s just a thing. To the knowledgeable it is a marvel worth the study of many lifetimes. Why does time flow in only one direction? No one knows. It’s the same sort of thing as gravity only even MORE wondrous to those who have spent their lives studying it. When a thing occasionally, rarely happens for no reason we can understand, we call it a miracle. That a limb should grow out is such a rare miracle that I doubt any of us has seen such a thing. Perhaps some of us (maybe even half or more) have seen a thing we would call a miracle, but are we sure? When you see something like that (I can attest personally) your first reaction is to reason it away. We know better. Things like that don’t happen. (Which is perhaps the REASON they so often fail to happen.)
I know this probably doesn’t help you much, Gabe. This is a struggle of generations. We all need to fight our way through it and out the other side, but seriously… if you have read “Pain,” read it again. If you haven’t, then read it with all your attention. It was an important stone for me in crossing this river. Maybe it will help you, too.
This post is intended for Gabe - others may read along if they would like.
As most of you know, my darling wife Alida died six weeks ago - only 72. How I miss her! I have been sorting through some of the boxes in which she had kept letters, poems, cards, etc. Alida was a very spiritual woman, much more so than I. She studied the Bible daily and talked with God. She probably reasoned with Him, maybe argued with Him like Abraham and Moses before her. I found some handwritten sheets where she had recorded one of her encounters with God. I hope you may find the true story she wrote down to be helpful in your struggle with faith. She had written the words “The Healing” at the top of the first page. Then followed the date - December 1977 (just before Christmas). I was the beneficiary of the healing she described. Any words in parentheses are my addition to what she wrote and I have excluded any actual names other than my own.
"Norm was very depressed and getting worse daily. He was under the care of a Christian psychiatrist, Dr. B____ of Toronto. The prayer chain was praying for him. The ladies of the S______ M_____ Church wery very faithful in their prayers. The doctor had told us that if Norm was not showing any improvement by the next week, he would have to be hospitalised. Norm would be in hospital over Christmas. Meanwhile, he doubled Norm’s dose of medication.
"I was busy in the kitchen when the phone rang. It was my friend and near neighbour, E____. She had just been called to pray by the prayer chain and she wanted more details as to how Norm was doing. E____'s husband also battled depression so she could relate to what we were going through.
While we were talking, God spoke to me. In a voice as clear as crystal, coming from above me and to one side, God said “Norm’s not going to get any worse.”
"Later on, while I was pondering what had happened, I asked myself, “How do I know it was God?” One word came to her - “authority”. The voice had authority. I ended the phone call and quickly called Norm to tell him to come home. He was in despair on the other end of the phone, unable to do any work, so he was only too happy to go home. When he arrived, I simply repeated exactly what had happened. I kept on repeating, “God said you are not going to get any worse”
“The Holy Spirit was very present with us at that time, confirming what had happened. It felt a little like being in a thunderstorm, with electricity all around. There was a tremendous sense of love between us - not ordinary human love, something much bigger and more awesome than we’d ever before experienced.” (End of Alida’s notes).
From that day on, my depression started to lift and soon I was my old self again.
That’s what Alida wrote. We were never part of any charismatic church or group, only run-of-the-mill evangelical churches. The healing Alida described was not the staged(?) type seen in some large gatherings. Only she heard God’s voice, only I was healed and not instantaneously either. I think that all makes what Alida experienced so very real. God spoke to her - AUDIBLY! She was never one to tell a lie, truth was so very important to her. If she said that God spoke to her audibly, I can tell you He did. And if she said the voice was authoritative, then it was. All that, reinforced by the fact that I was healed that day, proved to me that a miracle had indded happened.
Dear Gabe, God is real. Many, many others can testify to that fact. They may not have had any similar experience to Alida’s, they may have experienced even more wonderful things. Others have expressed their support for you and offered their encouragement as you pass through this period in your life. I hope I may have done the same. The Psalmist, David, had similar doubts and feelings of despair - Psalm 37, 43, 77, 88, etc. etc., well worth reading and crying over.
The worst is charismatics who pressure people into “miraculously” speaking in “tongues”. Someone speaking gibberish is not evidence of anything supernatural. Show me someone untrained in Arabic or Hebrew or Japanese who can speak those languages and I’ll believe he’s been given a gift from the Divine. Incomprehensible sounds won’t do.
The reports never say He did, but they never say He didn’t either (whether to individuals or as a group, or groups).
There are little hints in the accounts, though, of something odd happening with the Sanhedrin after that Passover holiday. For a while a number of them have gone back to believing in Jesus again or being cautiously agnostic that it might be true. (GosJohn points out that around half the Pharisees believed in Jesus before the final Passover; that political party isn’t the same as the Sanhedrin, but they had members on the Council, and Paul plays them off against others in the Sanhedrin later in Acts, over the topic of the resurrection from the dead.)
Papias, when he was collecting sayings of Jesus in the 80s (for a project evidently like what Luke eventually published, except Papias never got around to finishing it), eventually described one of the Johns (the elder and/or the apostle) as being one who wore the high priest’s official garb. We know from Josephus that Caiaphas resigned or was removed from his long-running office as high priest shortly after the death of Jesus, and was replaced very briefly by a young son of Annas named John, but he was removed quickly for reasons Josephus doesn’t mention (just that he was removed quickly). John and one of his brothers is named and present on the Sanhedrin in an early scene in Acts. There were lots of people named John, of course – it was a popular name (John Mark to give another prominent Christian example) – but only one in this timeframe actually served as high priest for a little while! If Papias is being literal and not figurative (and hasn’t mixed up his Johns somewhat, which is possible, especially in his old age when his surviving text excerpts is talking about this), that means John son of Annas, a member of the Sanhedrin, became an elder in the Christian church, as a disciple of one of the apostles.
Saul of Tarsus was a direct agent of the Sanhedrin (or of some coterie in the Sanhedrin) in persecuting Christians later, and he definitely gets a visitation from the risen Jesus (or, if you want to be sceptical, he thought he did – but he reports his experience as having an objective effect on his soldiers nearby, too, and he knows how to distinguish between objective events and dream-visions, the latter of which he would still evidently value.) As a student of Gamaliel I, he was in line to be on the Sanhedrin whether or not he had been inducted yet. Gamaliel himself is reported as being cautiously agnostic in favor of Christianity; and the Hillel family and school (he was himself the grandson of Hillel the 1st) was suspected for centuries afterward of having secret Christians among them.
We don’t know whether or not Jesus appeared to any of the Sanhedrin (other than Paul, arguably), individually or in groups. But something happened that edged a significant number of them back toward being Christians – Acts talks about chief priests converting along the way, and later anti-Christian Jewish polemic remembers with annoyance that the Christian leaders were Jewish sages and men of good reputation.
James JesusBro is an interesting example from Acts, too. In GosJohn he’s sceptical of Jesus’ claims. In the Synoptics I’m not sure he shows up as a character at all (even in GosLuke where he might be expected by name), but all three Synoptics present His brothers in an unnamed group being at least a little oppositional and disrespectful for His ministry. (It depends on how strenuous one should take the statement that “he has gone beside himself” to mean seriously crazy and needs reigning in, or just has lost track of time and needs to come back for lunch with the family.) All of a sudden out of nowhere, bam, James JesusBro (not Peter or any of the chosen apostles) is leading the Jerusalem church and so, effectively, leading the whole church! Almost everyone everywhere, across the ideological spectrum from hypersceptical to hyper-fundie, thinks Acts was written sometime after 1st Corinthians; but if it wasn’t for a bit of kerygmatic teaching being passed along by Paul (as a reminder that he already passed this along to them, and which he received from the disciples himself), we’d have no idea that James received a visit from Jesus. Acts for whatever reason never talks about it. (Luke barely mentions in passing that Peter got a direct visitation from Jesus, too, and doesn’t show the scene at all; it’s mentioned as an aside during the story about the two disciples on the road to Emmaus.)
If it comes to that, even on the most hypersceptical theories the author of Acts is clearly claiming to be the author of GosLuke (whether that’s true or not), so you’d think if he was inventing speeches here and there for the apostles, and inventing narrative hooks, he’d be talking more about the empty tomb. But only Paul mentions it specifically, once, in (the summary of) his first main sermon, and never gets reported mentioning it again. Peter alludes to it very indirectly in his own first sermon and never again. No one anywhere in Acts talks about it at all, but the author clearly thought it was important enough for Paul to mention it once. One way or another this shows that Christian authors can be aware of super-important details that, for whatever reason, they just don’t bother mentioning rarely if at all. It’s annoying, but a fact of the texts.
That leaves open a lot of room for Sanhedrin members, individually or as groups, to have gotten visitations that just aren’t mentioned anywhere; and some visitations, even though unmentioned, would go a long way toward explaining some evidence of significant turnarounds among the Sanhedrin after the first Easter.
Still, supposing it didn’t happen at all, that wouldn’t surprise me either. Jesus in the Gospel narratives expects the chief priests and scholars to be lining up on His side and is critical for them not doing so (and even lambastes a group of Pharisees in GosJohn who had just previously defended Him to His enemies among the Pharisees); but He clearly doesn’t expect His movement to be growing from and rooted to the established religious system. Since major decisive appearances to the Sanhedrin would logically result in the Sanhedrin and its leaders throwing their weight behind Christianity, and no doubt expecting to take charge of it because they’re the Sanhedrin, I honestly wouldn’t expect those appearances. But maybe there were some, who knows? The data set far from excludes it.
(As a related aside, there was a very solid tradition afterward that Pilate sent a report about Jesus’ death and resurrection – in some way – back to Rome as part of his normal duties, and that this could be found and read by anyone with access to the reports. This tradition stands behind the various non-canonical texts about Pilate, such as the Acts of Pilate, that started showing up from the 100s onward. How much of that material includes legitimate report material, no one can say for sure now, so it’s more conservatively safe to treat it all as mere pious fiction of various flavors. But some of that material involves a resurrection appearance to Pilate and his wife, Claudia Procula, who per GosMatt had some kind of dream that inspired her to direct Pilate to not condemn that righteous man. We wouldn’t know about that if Matthew hadn’t included it along the way, but her influence helps explain the political forces Pilate is clearly trying to safely navigate: she’s a member of the imperial family, and he married waaaay above his station, and he’s already in trouble with Tiberius for mishandling his governorship over the Jews. If he messes up a third time and gets recalled, Claudia – whom he dotes on devotedly – will be the only thing standing between him and the increasingly paranoid Tiberius who has gotten recently into the habit of executing officials for mere suspicion of being “no friend of Caesar”.)