Summary: Is the resurrection foolishness? or are those who ignore it the real fools?
Preached 1 Apr 2018 at Christ Church, Billericay
As it April fools day, I thought we’d take a look at one of the most famous April Fools ever.
[Show Video] - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tVo_wkxH9dU
That was shown in 1957, I don’t remember it, as I was not yet a year old when it was shown, but I have heard about it many times since. Apparently it was quite successful – in that a lot of people believed it, and I was wondering why it worked.
Why it worked
Here’s a few ideas:
Firstly, in 1957 few people would have known what went on in Italy or Switzerland, or where Spaghetti came from. The war had not spread European culture across Britain. Secondly, the film is well made, and perhaps most importantly was shown by a trusted source – the BBC. So many people were fooled.
April Fool – Meme
Today there will no doubt be many attempts at April Fools based on the fact that it is also Easter Day. I found this one last week [Meme] and I expect to find lots more, on both sides of the argument today and in the next few days.
These are all nice little jokes, and its fun to be fooled occasionally, but the world today is full of people who want to put their own ‘spin’ on the facts. Spin is an old term now, today it is called ‘fake news’ and some of it is completely made up.
Countering Fake News
So how do we tell the difference?
We must research the facts and find out which of the claimed facts are reliable and which ones aren’t.
Christianity not only claims that Jesus lived and died, but that he was resurrected. That’s quite a claim. We all know that dead men don’t walk or talk. There is plenty of evidence for that, so to claim that someone did requires some very strong evidence.
Because if that claim is true it changes everything that we think we know.
Objections to the resurrection
Some would like to tell us this is all ‘fake news’ and argue against the truth of this story. Some of their arguments are easy to counter, some are harder. I’m going to look at a few of these now.
It’s just a myth, like the Greek and Roman gods.
If a resurrection were to happen today, we wouldn’t consign it to myth, just because there are plenty of myths with a similar theme. Neither would the new testament writers. We have already seen that the historical evidence is good enough for us to be confident that Jesus was a real person. While there are plenty of myths of gods being resurrected and saving the world, they lack the detail and historical perspective that the gospels provide.
In 2017 The Guardian ran an article “What is the historical evidence that Jesus Christ lived and died?”
That’s a good first step, because if he didn’t live and die, he can’t have been resurrected.
In summary, historians accept that Jesus is a real historical person, even if 40% of English adults don’t.
Or perhaps its the product of legend. One person tells another, the story gets embellished each time, after all it’s been 2000 years now.
The evidence from the study of scriptures is that the textual purity is highly reliable – in other words it hasn’t been tampered with. If it were a legend we should be able to see the story develop as we compare early copies with more recent ones. This is not the case with the Bible.
There are also some objections to the events described in the Bible. Some say that Jesus wasn’t really dead.
It’s true that some (a very few) people survived crucifixion. Once all the ‘show’ of a public killing was over relatives would come and take them down from their cross.
In Jesus case the evidence of the Bible is that Jesus was most definitely dead. Because of the circumstances of his crucifixion (just before passover) the authorities wanted to make sure the three being crucified were dead, so a soldier was told to ‘finish them off’ by breaking their legs. This leads to suffocation quite quickly. When the soldier got to Jesus he spotted that he was already dead, and stuck a spear in his side. Blood and water was seen to come from his body – a sign that death has occurred and that blood is no longer circulating.
We should also remember that Jesus had been brutally beaten before his crucifixion and was therefore weaker than most who are crucified.
If He wasn’t dead, He would have had to recover enough to move the stone from the mouth of the tomb and walk away. This is not a credible idea because of the physical state His body was in and because he had no access to water, so would have been weakened by blood loss and de-hydration.