I just read this lovely blog post: Resurrection? You Must be Crazy! . It reminded me why people would look at Christians and think we’re nuts, and of the risks in taking a step of faith – of placing my trust in the resurrection of Jesus. I’m reminded of what a challenge my faith presents to others who don’t share it. I’m also challenged to rethink whether I really believe its claims.
I don’t believe that Christians are crazy, or I wouldn’t be one. But it’s good to step back and consider it for a moment. After all, our faith declares that a dead man walked (and much more, but let’s leave it there for now- that’s crazy enough for starters). I’m not about to trot out the evidence for the resurrection. Other places can discuss that better than I could. But I do want to reflect for a moment on the reactions of those to whom Jesus appeared.
Even the people Jesus had lived alongside, his closest family and friends, those who believed he was the Messiah during his life and had heard from him in the run up to his death about what he was going to do, found it difficult to believe that he was raised from the dead.
Mary thought he was the gardener until she heard him speak; the men on the road to Emmaus walked and talked with a traveller for hours before they recognised him as Jesus; and the 11 remaining disciples thought they were seeing a ghost when Jesus appeared amongst them. It’s not that surprising really! You WOULD think you’d gone nuts, wouldn’t you? I mean… if you saw, or seemed to be having a conversation with, your recently murdered friend. And if someone told you THEY’D done seen those things, you’d think they were crazy, or deluded, or both. It’s a little ironic (and maybe a touch harsh) that Thomas goes down in history as “doubting” because he wanted proof that the dead man standing in front of him was the risen Lord Jesus Christ. It’s also good to know Jesus was able to persuade him.
It’s interesting too that according to the biographical accounts in the gospels, Jesus’ post-resurrection appearances (which sceptics put down to mass hysteria or delusions amongst other things) include accounts of him walking, talking, eating, showing his wounds, preparing food, blessing people, performing signs, and meeting individuals & groups. There was certainly variety in the ways people claimed to encounter him.
Saul was the last of the apostles to see Jesus. He hit the deck on the Damascus Road when he encountered Jesus. No-one would’ve seen it coming: Saul was a God-fearing Pharisee, a strict follower of the Jewish law, and doing a pretty good job of persecuting Christians. Turning to Jesus was no easy matter for him; it involved flying in the face of everything he’d previously stood for, and there were respects in which the rest of his life involved trying to make sense of that transformation. The important thing is that Jesus was able to catch his attention. Was he crazy? Some people would say so. But then, as he later said to King Agrippa when he was under arrest and had to explain himself: “why should any of you consider it incredible that God raises the dead”? Now if there’s a God, I think that’s a pretty God point.
Maybe Paul was crazy. Maybe every other Christian in history has been crazy with him. Or maybe the world doesn’t work in quite the confined manner we box ourselves into believing is the case. Maybe just because we can’t prove something with science, it doesn’t make it impossible, but simply makes it something we can’t explain, at least yet.
I’m quite glad I don’t understand everything. I like it that sometimes I just have to be; to trust; to let God – assuming he’s there – be God and to believe that if he is, he’ll see me waiting and if he’s not, I won’t lose anything by taking a breather.