Believing in the Resurrection

By Not Known

The Gospels make it clear that the last thing the disciples expected was the resurrection. The women went to Jesus’ grave on Sunday morning expecting to complete burial rites. When the women told the apostles about the risen Jesus, they dismissed it as silly tales of silly women.

However, the Gospels make it equally clear that these people came to believe in the resurrection as a matter of historical fact. They had met Jesus, talked with him, touched him and watched him eat a meal. He was not a ghost or a projection of their imagination. Likewise, the Apostle Paul insists on the event of the resurrection and cites the existence of 500 plus living witnesses (1 Cor 15:3- 8)

We too may find it hard to believe in the resurrection. Why is it hard? For a start, the resurrection is a highly improbable event. The Bible speaks about it as a ‘one-off’ event, for it is in a unique class and not to be compared to resuscitation, such as that of Lazarus (John 11).

The extremely low probability of the resurrection should not be confused with (im)possibility. An event can be improbable, but possible. The resurrection is entirely possible for God, for whom nothing is impossible (Mt. 19: 26). As Augustine puts it: ‘God is called Almighty for one reason only, that he can do whatever pleases him.

The message of Easter Sunday is that the God of the impossible has done the improbable in raising his Son and that this is a fortaste of resurrection blessing to those who put their faith in Jesus. This combines with the message of Good Friday about God’s forgiveness of sins to make up the gospel message of Christ who died and was raised.

So, let’s join the first disciples and be honest about our difficulty in believing in the resurrection. But let’s not confuse probability with possibility. Let’s follow the evidence that is available to us in the New Testament and the historical fact that these earliest Christians were prepared to die for their insistence that they knew Jesus was raised. (Would they have died for something they still doubted for knew to be a lie?)

Above all, let’s join the first disciples in celebrating the resurrection of Jesus and telling the world about it. It is the best ‘good news that anyone can hear.