Summary: The testimony of realiable witnesses points us to the truth of the resurrection.
John 20 – The Resurrection
Plan: Intro – anti-supernaturalism
The Testimony – women
- Fear and joy - distractions
- Seeing is believing (Thomas)
God and the Supernatural
I’ve just started looking at the life of Jesus with my year seven classes at school. We’re watching bits of the Jesus video and answering some questions. The first question on the page is this: “How did Mary become pregnant with Jesus”. Probably a fairly dangerous question when asking 12 year old boys, but nevertheless, that’s the question. One of the more capable girls said to me the other day, “how can a virgin become pregnant – it’s impossible!” I agreed with her and said, yes, normally it is. But in this case God did something miraculous. When I uttered the word “miracle” she scoffed. Not in a deliberately offensive way, but in the way many modernist westerners do, those who think they’ve advanced well beyond such superstition. “But that just can’t happen, sir,” she replied. It’s an assumption that seems to grip much of western thinking, including many people in churches who call themselves Christians, and it’s often referred to as anti-supernaturalism. It’s an assumption that goes beyond healthy scepticism to a complete refusal to believe in the miraculous whatever the testimony and whatever the evidence.
It’s not a particularly logical approach. In that very same year seven class, another girl asked me a question about Adam and Eve. It wasn’t really a question, it was more of a statement with the underlying tone being “I think I’ve got you on that one, haven’t I sir.” She said, “how could Adam and Eve have understood the one rule that God gave them? They wouldn’t have had any language just after God created them, that takes time to develop. It’s impossible for language to appear overnight. They wouldn’t have been able to communicate, so they can’t be blamed for eating the apple!” I replied to her, “If God was able to create this whole universe from nothing, then surely he would be able to give Adam and Eve the ability to communicate.”
And there’s the strange, illogical thing. Most of the people who hold to the anti-supernaturalist assumption also claim to believe in God. And yet somehow, God can never work outside of the natural laws which he created.
But what does this have to do with John 20? Many of you saw the production of Jesus on Trial about a month ago where put the question of whether Jesus really did rise from the dead through the rigours of a courtroom analysis. I played the lawyer who was arguing against the resurrection, and let me just read to you what was said as a closing statement:
Modern medicine tells us that if someone has been dead for three days, they’re not coming back. Their brain has been deprived of oxygen for so long that even if we stuck a new heart in them and got them going again, there is absolutely no hope. Mr Brooks can stand up here all day and tell us fairy tales but it doesn’t change the facts. No one in this room. No in this country. No one in this world, has ever seen someone who is genuinely and completely dead rise again. It’s an impossibility. It doesn’t happen. With all due respect for the millions of people worldwide who still hold on to this belief, it defies rational thought, it defies reasoning, it defies science. It defies everything we have in the modern world that sets us apart from those people who originally fell for this trick two thousand years ago.