In the history of the world, what would you pick as the most important Good News story that has ever happened?
The landing of man on the moon? – marking the pinnacle of modern human technological achievement
The invention of penicillin? – enabling the saving of millions of lives
The abolition of the slave trade? – saving many from oppression
The end of the 2 world wars? – showing that there is a better way than the ways of communism or fascism
Or might you pick, as Christians do, the resurrection of Jesus 2000 years ago?
It isn’t every day, is it, that someone comes back from the dead, the ultimate barrier to life. Yet unlikely though such an event is, that is what billions of people have in the past and still believe today. But is such a belief reasonable and based on evidence? Well, if you have perhaps never really thought about it before, here are some of the objections that people have made and a Christian response:
He must have fainted not died? But what about the terrible injuries of Jesus?: there was his beating; the spear thrust into his side; his being hung on a cross and is death confirmed by professional soldiers (and they didn’t make mistakes); and his being put in the tomb sealed by an enormous stone and the guards outside? Jesus would have had to overcome all these obstacles and then appear healthy to convince people that he was risen.
What people saw was a hallucination? But surely this can’t be possible? The historical records tell us that many people saw him including 500 at the same time; people don’t hallucinate on mass; and even natural sceptics like ‘doubting Thomas’ believed. No, the evidence is that the body was never found and, people saw, spoke and touched the risen Jesus.
His friends committed a fraud? But what about his friends actions? How could they have got the body out of the guarded tomb without being caught; convince all the many witnesses to join a conspiracy; and then suffer death for what they knew to be a lie? No, people don’t die for what they know to be a lie. If the Jewish authorities or Romans had taken the body, then surely they would have just produced the body on the first rumours of a resurrection.
So, a Christian’s belief is that the weight of evidence is there so that all can be sure. And is this important?
Yes, because it is the ultimate Good News, telling us that with Jesus, death is not the end, but that we have a sure hope of new life whatever may happen in life. And in all that is happening in our world that is bringing such uncertainty, darkness and death……this is the real Good News that we all need….that new life is possible and so that we really can have hope.
Finally, thank you for all the thoughts and prayers I am sure you have been saying for Ukraine. Here at St Peter’s and Blessed Mary we are pausing at 3pm every day to say the prayer below. Do set your phone alarm to remind you. If you would like to join us that would be wonderful.
With my prayers for a Happy Easter with your families and friends
Revd James – Rector of St Peter’s and Blessed Mary
17th March 2022