‘WHY should any of you consider it incredible that God raises the dead?’ That was the question St. Paul asked his accusers nearly 2000 years ago, when he stood trial for preaching about Jesus. The same question lives on from one generation to the next and now it reaches us. So what’s it got to do with Jesus?
Jesus was a Jewish preacher, who ran foul of the religious leaders of his day. He was put to death by crucifixion. However, his disciples said that for the following five weeks or so, they had seen, spoken to, ate and walked with Jesus. Once their fear and confusion concerning these events had subsided, they were at pains to tell people about Jesus ‘risen from the dead’.
If we choose to deny the resurrection of Jesus, what are we going to do with all of those eyewitness accounts recorded in the New Testament? How will we explain the rapid growth of the early church, which was founded by those same witnesses, a number of whom were put to death because they refused to deny what they had seen and heard? Would they die for what they knew to be a lie?
If we are prepared to accept the obvious conclusion, that Jesus was raised from the dead, it will of necessity require us to go deeper asking questions like: Just who was Jesus and what did he have to say? Why has God, so far, only raised Jesus in this way? The answers to these questions have the power to turn our lives upside down, and for this reason those answers may be uncomfortable. This is why some teachers talk down the bodily resurrection of Jesus, offering alternative ideas as to what went on at that first Easter and the days following. However, the explanations which are offered are more incredible than simply trusting the testimony passed on to us by the first followers of Jesus.
So then, how will we answer the question, ‘Why should any of you consider it incredible that God raises the dead?’
Shirley Baptist Church