“But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory.” (1 Cor. 2:7)
If Jesus a few days after the resurrection walked down the middle of Main Street and right into the Temple in Jerusalem, then like doubting Thomas, all of the common people along with the Pharisees, Sadducees, lawyers, and scribes could examine His wounds and observe His resurrected new body, and accept as proof that Jesus is the promised Messiah and the Son of God.
But accepting the visual evidence, producing absolute knowledge like two plus two equals four or the existence of the noonday sun, in accepting the empirical evidence that Jesus is the divine Son of God…this proof is a type of passive acknowledgement that is not the same thing as active faith that will produce a willingness to follow Him.
This is like people saying to the recognized king of the realm: “We know that you are the rightful king, but we will not follow you into battle against a formidable adversary because we do not think you are a qualified military leader.”
The Pharisees and scribes would have looked at the resurrected Jesus, talked with Him, examined His healed wounds and then said: “Great…good for you…nothing has changed in our minds as a result of this newest miracle of yours. We still choose not to follow you. We refuse to enter in at the ‘narrow gate’ (Mt. 7:13-14) you mentioned in your Sermon on the Mount. We will continue to do religion the way we have set it up, to mix old traditions with going our own way to suit ourselves” (Isa. 53:6).
Absolute knowledge by visual, empirical observation does not address the basic problem. It does not displace, remove, or shift the mindset of self-sovereignty, of autonomous individualism over into the God-sovereignty category of a biblical-quality walk of faith.
Jesus walking into the Temple in Jerusalem after His resurrection, offering absolute proof of His divinity in physically rising from the dead surprisingly does not change by force of reason alone…the inner man…and does not equate to everyone freely choosing to make Him Lord and Master of our lives.
After the resurrection revealing Himself to the Pharisees and scribes would not have produced biblical faith, defined as willingly allowing God to displace our ways with His higher ways.
This is as ancient in Jewish history as the calling of Abraham to leave Haran and to go by faith to Canaan (Heb. 11:8-10), as basic to Judaism as it gets and fundamental to the Christian concept of picking up our cross to follow Jesus.
Visual, empirical observation of the resurrected Jesus by the religious elites and the general populace in Jerusalem a few days after Easter morning does not translate into Hebrews 11:1 faith to surrender all, to abandon self-sovereignty.
To follow Jesus Christ into an adventure of faith to match the examples of Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, Ruth, Hannah, David, Elijah, Esther and Mordecai, Jeremiah, Daniel, Ezra, and Nehemiah…to name a few from the Old Testament, sets forth the examples of the lives of faith which should have been commonplace, should have been the norm for Jewish living at the time of the ministry of Jesus in first-century Israel.
Like our free-will choice to love someone, our choosing to follow God, by purposeful, intentional, divinely creative design will always be a free-will, take-it-or-leave-it, open option of the heart and mind in first-century Jerusalem, in the present-day, and for all eternity in heaven.
This is the remarkably sublime beauty of the free-will, free-thinking, moral reasoning, risky from God’s standpoint, non-robots that God created humans to be, operating with or without absolute, visual, empirically foolproof evidence of God’s existence (Jn. 20:29).
The spiritual mystery of the self-autonomous rebellion of pushing God aside and out of our lives is therefore one of the key moral issues under examination in this life and this broken world.
A person does not have to be a scholar to see in the Bible and to experience first-hand that God initially takes people having hidden potential yet at the start of their calling are broken, lost, and aimless in life (Mt. 9:10-13). Through the divinely supportive respect and acceptance over time of salvation, redemption, and the life-altering insertion of a God-composed adventure of faith aided and energized by the Holy Spirit…turns people into something vastly better than they could have previously imagined.
This is one of the main themes of the Bible. Some people will accept God’s lead and follow Him into their destinies. Others will push God away and follow their own course.
This in itself should be a telling argument against the random-chance naturalism of self-sovereign worldly conventional thinking, by virtue of the sheer inexplicability of the origin of the concept of biblical faith, of God displacing our ways with His higher ways and thoughts, and its persistent longevity over thousands of years.
Naturalistic materialism if true should produce one homogeneous human mindset, either self-sovereignty or God-sovereignty…one lifestyle habit per creature type…like the rest of the natural living world.
This option of belief or unbelief should tell us that as human beings we are different (Gen. 1:26-27).
The complexity of the information content, the innovative originality of the main concepts, and the utter crash and collision with worldly conventional normalcy and thinking makes a compelling commonsense apologetic case for the divine origin of the journeys of faith recorded in the Bible, above, beyond, and outside of humanistic literary invention.
This is the easier half in answering the question of why Jesus did not walk down Main Street and into the Temple a few days after His resurrection, which would have changed the dynamics of a journey of faith following Jesus Christ instead into the type of absolute, visual, foolproof evidence that atheists and skeptics demand…but which falls short as the means to establish a personal relationship.
The hard part in analyzing the wisdom behind the delicate balance between belief and unbelief in this current world environment is as follows:
After Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead…John 11:45-48 reads:
45 Then many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on him.
46 But some of them went their ways to the Pharisees, and told them what things Jesus had done.
47 Then gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees a council, and said, What do we? for this man doeth many miracles.
48 If we let him alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation.
The religious elites in Jerusalem decided to continue worldly conventional normalcy and thinking…self-autonomous self-rulership…by sacrificing Jesus Christ…by removing Him out of the way.
This is expressed in John 11:49-50:
49 And one of them, named Caiaphas, being the high priest that same year, said unto them, Ye know nothing at all.
50 Nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not.
Caiaphas said this in order to perpetuate the status quo, to continue worldly conventional normalcy and thinking as it existed at that time and place. Caiaphas was not interested in the initiating or the maintaining of biblical-quality journeys of faith, which the early church would soon step into and demonstrate to the world shortly (Acts 8:4) ”turning the world upside down” (Acts 17:6).
Killing Jesus through Roman crucifixion, falsely as a political and religious malefactor simply foretells what would happen if this same attitude of self-sovereignty at its worst extreme version of worldly self-interest as demonstrated that day at the cross on Calvary Hill…was imported into heaven for all eternity.
One reason why God drove Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden was to prevent their access to the Tree of Life (Gen. 3:22-24).
An eternity of disruptive, self-centered rebellion in heaven is and would be unacceptable.
This brings us to one of the key questions regarding the real Christian life…of why it is faith and not visual, empirical evidence that is the driving force in Christian discipleship, of why faith is the central element in the God-composed journey of faith life-scripts from Abraham in Genesis all the way through the Bible to Paul in Acts.
Truth by definition is exclusive. Multiple competing “truths” cannot all be true at the same time.
In a sea of lies, deceptions, and cleverly disguised half-truths, the biblical narrative stories of faith inject a narrative of truth into the marketplace of secular worldviews.
Skeptical unbelief tells people to go their own way as autonomous individuals…to sit atop the thrones of their lives as junior gods…to create their own definition and standards of purpose and meaning in their lives, to operate entirely independent of the input of the God of the Bible
When there are multiple competing narratives which are difficult to parse and evaluate, then giving someone or some program the benefit-of-the-doubt may be the only reliable way to differentiate truth from error and right from wrong.
Giving someone or some idea the benefit-of-the-doubt comes into play as the only way to test whether a particular narrative is true or false, and if experientially proven over the course of time to be true by the process of elimination, this then excludes the other multiple competing narratives.
Thus the entrance into the human history of the marketplace of ideas the uniquely innovative calling of Abraham into a God-composed journey of faith life-script, that displaces whatever normative life Abraham might have otherwise lived in the city of Haran with an entirely new life-script that Abraham could not have dreamed-up in his wildest imagination.
This new journey of faith in the narrative storyline of Abraham inaugurates the concept of listening in the Spirit to hear the voice of God, and then following the leading of God into life-scripts that produce positive results on a grand scale unprecedented in all of human history.
The first introduction of a false competing narrative is recorded in Genesis chapter three in the temptation of Adam and Eve, a competing narrative of such deep sophistication that it functionally continues down to this present day:
“And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” (Gen. 3:4-5).
This is the fundamental, competing false narrative that says that human beings are capable of going our own way apart from God.
Another competing false narrative prominent today is the alluring appeal of the coveting of materialistic possessions found at the bottom half of the American Dream, that forms a false standard for measuring self-validation and self-worth as determined through worldly conventional normalcy and thinking.
There is a historically pivotal narrative in first-century Jerusalem in the third year of the ministry of Jesus Christ in which it appears that the competing narrative guiding the religious elites in Jerusalem is stronger than the narrative of following Jesus Christ.
As discussed in an earlier essay, as Jesus is mocked and taunted by those standing around watching Him die on the cross…it would appear that the Pharisees, Sadducees, lawyers, and scribes have won…and Jesus and His followers have lost.
But the true narrative unfolds three days later when Jesus is resurrected from the tomb of Joseph of Arimathaea to fulfill His unique destiny to be the Passover Lamb of God atoning sacrifice for sin…”slain from the foundation of the world.” (Rev. 13:8).
Jesus walking openly down Main Street and into the Temple merely creates a new competing narrative based upon an empirical observation of the risen Jesus as Messiah.
But this would for many people do nothing to inaugurate the true God-initiated narrative of a God-composed journey of faith life-script in which our ways are displaced by God’s higher ways and thoughts, an imperative necessity in human lives for first-century Jews living in Jerusalem and for Gentiles at that time scattered throughout Asia Minor, and for people today as previewed for us in the biblical narrative stories of faith.
For the Pharisees, Sadducees, lawyers, and scribes in the Temple interrogating the risen Jesus a few days after the resurrection…the newly revealed, factual knowledge that Jesus rose bodily from the dead would merely be in the minds of the people who are proud, arrogant, self-confident, and self-led simply another tool to add to their tool-kit of self-righteous good works.
Within the false narrative they choose of self-sovereign self-in-control…the visual evidence of the risen Jesus openly walking down Main Street and into the Temple does not lead to following God in a journey of faith (Mic. 6:8).
In the Sermon on the Mount…Jesus identifies the one true narrative for right living that excludes all other competing narratives:
“Enter ye in at the narrow gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:
Because narrow is the gate, and hard is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” (Mt. 7:13-14)
In Mark 8:34-37…Jesus clarifies further the one true narrative for right living, again which excludes all other competing narratives based upon worldly conventional normalcy and thinking:
“Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it.
For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?
Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?”
The exclusivity of truth is uncompromisingly and unapologetically stated by Jesus Christ when He says in John 14:6…”I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”
Jesus says to Martha before He raises her brother Lazarus from a rock covered tomb after being dead four days: “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live. And whosover liveth and believeth in me shall never die.” (Jn. 11:25-26).
This is the epitome of a worldview narrative that excludes all other competing narratives.
G. K. Chesterton observed that Christianity has not been “tried and found wanting” but “found difficult and never tried.”
To actualize God’s true narrative into human life requires a God-composed journey of faith life-script that displaces our ways with His higher ways and thoughts (Isa. 55:8-9). This requires repentance and a turning away from the narrative of going our own way (Isa. 53:5-6), requires a reformation in our worldview narrative (Mt. 4:17) that the visual proof of Jesus walking down Main Street and into the Temple after His resurrection will not produce.
 Patrick Glynn, GOD, The Evidence (New York: Three Rivers Press, 1997, 1999), p. 149.