by Rev Gary Heard
In my late teens, I spent months pondering the credibility of the christian faith: the claims about Jesus, the deeds he was purported to have done, the impact he has had throughout history. Was it real, or simply a powerful con? A tale to beat all tales, or profound truth? It all seemed so improbable: that God could be born as a human being, live a life amongst us, and at the end be rejected by the very people he chose as his own. It all seemed so improbable.
The focus of my thoughts narrowed to the Easter events and what followed. What explanation could be given for the transformation of the disciples? from snivelling cowards to bold preachers? from those unable to stand with Jesus to those prepared to die for him? Would they be prepared to die for something they knew to be a lie? And yet what could explain the positive impact in the lives of so many through centuries?
It all hinged on the Easter events. Did Jesus really die - or did he just swoon on the cross, collapsing from exhaustion inspired by an all-night trial and the relentless exertion of energy just to take a breath while on the cross? And if he did die, did the disciples merely steal the body, or did they just lose it in the labyrinth of tombs where his body was placed?
In the end, the evidence weighed too heavily. The flow of blood and water indicated that Jesus had died - the plasma having separated from the blood a sure proof. The placing of the Roman guard would have obviated any "loss" of the location of the tomb. It would have been simple to produce the dead body of Jesus to prove the disciples' lie.
I concluded that the Christian faith all seemed so improbable, yet in the light of the events of Easter, it certainly seemed possible: the most likely explanation was that God had indeed entered the world in Jesus, and through his death and resurrection achieved something all people need: forgiveness and reconciliation with God.
In the words of the old hymn "Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all." A close examination of the life and death of Jesus will reveal a love that is too precious to treat casually.
April 23, 2000
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