I remember as clearly as yesterday the Easter I came face to face with the resurrection story. My sister and I sometimes did plays to commemorate holidays, and I can remember singing “The Old Rugged Cross” for my parents when I was younger – cute but with little knowledge of what I was singing.
But when I was in high school, I remember being in my bedroom and reading the resurrection story. All of a sudden the ridiculousness of the story hit me.
Did I really believe that Jesus came alive from the dead?
It is an unbelievable story, and I don’t fault others for not believing it. I don’t know of anyone else who did it. Medically it’s not possible, at least not after those circumstances.
At the same time, I knew the historical evidence — that a man named Jesus lived and died. Afterwards a huge number, more than what followed him in life, believed in his life, death and resurrection. That group grew in spite of extreme persecution (like being fed to lions) and yet continues, even to this day. Our brothers and sisters in Kenya prove the strength of conviction.
The story around his resurrection is plausible from what I know about the nature of men. I can imagine one out of twelve betraying him. I can imagine them running away, hiding, even denying under pressure that they knew him. I can imagine the fear of the Romans that his body might be stolen and placing a guard. I can imagine weeping women coming to a tomb after all the men ran away. I can imagine seeing visions of their friend.
What I can’t imagine is these cowards stealing a body. I can’tt imagine Roman guards falling asleep at the job, with an impending judgement of death. I can’t imagine the disciples willingness to never express doubt, to be bold in the midst of pressure, to go to the cross themselves, over a hallucination. I can’t imagine that someone, Jew or Roman, never proved the resurrection a hoax. The movement was not silenced. Something happened in the lives of the eleven, and in the lives of the next generation of believers, to turn their lives around.
So, even though, thousands of years later, I can not prove the resurrection, I believed it could have happened. And, if it could have happened, I believed it did happen.
Not because of what believing did in their lives, but because of what it did in my life.