Wendy and I hid Easter baskets and went to bed at midnight. I woke at 1:30 with an incredible contradiction kicking around in my head. Rising from the dead is impossible, I thought. Why am I considered mad by the world for believing so, and weak in faith by Christians for not?
Our church meets on Saturday nights, so it didn’t help any to hear a sermon on the evidences of Jesus’ resurrection on the eve of Easter. I wish I was dreaming about Easter eggs and jelly beans. Instead I rolled around in bed in a dreamy debate with the pastor.
I’m ashamed to say it, but the sermon was rather predictable:
- Hundreds of witnesses verified the resurrection of Jesus.
- Without the resurrection, Jesus was either a lunatic or a liar.
- The foundation of Christianity rests on whether or not the resurrection was real.
And so on and so forth. The list of “proof” was exhausting me, not because I had heard it before, but because of the blindingly obvious objection blaring in my brain:
Rising from the dead is impossible.
Let that settle in a little. It’s impossible. The skeptic in me (is he not in you, too?) is totally challenging the evidence. Go ahead and stack up Josh McDowell, Lee Strobel and C.S. Lewis books for me to “logically” wrestle through, but I still am delivered the ridiculously absurd 1 Corinthian 15 passage:
Go ahead. Tell me I’m the one being impossible. As if I’m naive or simple-minded or faithless. I know I’m not. I’m being incredibly forthright and logical when I insist that rising from the dead is impossible. Neither you nor I nor anyone on the planet has witnessed the rising of a dead man. I suppose there are some nuts out there who will insist that they have, but that’s what they are: nuts. Insisting on such an impossibility is crazy.
But billions believe it true. Perhaps that’s what is so amazing.
It takes a lot — especially for a logical, rational, human debater like me — to believe in the resurrection of Christ. But you know what? I choose to believe it.
I know it’s impossible. I know it doesn’t just happen. I know it is ridiculously insane and contradicts every logical, rational strain in my body.
But I believe it anyway.
Just like I believe in all sorts of miracles. It really isn’t Jesus’ miracles that impress me, and I don’t think that’s what he was trying to do. I think he was trying to draw us into belief.
I suspect that Paul wrestled with this, too. Just like a blogger. He was writing about that which he struggled himself. And the first Christians, too, I would imagine. If I witnessed the resurrection myself, I suppose I would doubt my senses, and I would be just like Paul and the rest trying to remind each other that what we saw wasn’t us going crazy. Wouldn’t you be the same? That seems to be the point Paul was trying to bring home in this passage.
And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied. (1 Corinthians 15:17-19)
The resurrection — for me, at least — is very much a personal belief more than a declaration of faith.
I can say a million times that the resurrection really happened, but I feel like it is passing the buck. I’m appealing to really smart guys who have studied this stuff and I yield to them. But when I say I believe in the resurrection, that it really happened, that puts me in the game. I’m choosing to believe in such an impossible occurrence that allows me to transcend beyond reality, reaching past that which is explainable or rationalized, and overcome all sorts of other impossibilities in life.
Did I just say, “transcend beyond reality”? Call me a nut if you like. This is what I believe, and it is pretty awesome when I live it out.
Read 1 Corinthians 15. It is quite the passage, but I don’t think Paul was saying what will likely be preached from pulpits this morning. The idea that the resurrection itself is the foundation to faith is almost right. It may be intellectually challenging to banter the evidences to and fro, but that’s not really the point here. It is belief in the resurrection that is the challenge. That’s where I find the power. In the resurrection.
Here’s the kicker: Life is is full of impossible odds. But I believe in the resurrection of the dead. What is there that I cannot overcome?
This belief — irrational as it is — is the belief that overcomes all odds, even death.
He is risen. Indeed. Happy Easter.