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Sunday, 12 April 2009

Happy Easter

Happy Easter to all! Easter is at the very heart of the Christian faith, it is, after all, in the Resurrection of Jesus that we all live in the hope of a life hereafter.

Recently I was asked why I believed in the Resurrection and why I did not consider the whole thing just an elaborate confidence trick perpetrated for political reasons by the disciples. I will leave aside the "political" part at this stage and explain that the evidence presented by the Gospels, if examined forensically, would be sufficient to convince a court that it was real. So what is that evidence?

First the tomb was sealed and guarded, precisely because the authorities were afraid someone would pull of a body snatch. From the description it needed several men and probably some tools to shift the stone sealing the tomb and probably some device to remove the "seals" placed there by the Sanhedrin's officers. Something, during the night, caused the guards, not superstitious and badly paid bumpkins, but seasoned and battle hardened troopers, to run away. Whatever that was, it also opened to the tomb so that when Mary Magdalene and the others arrived, it was open.

Right, so that still doesn't rule out the intervention of a gang of men, or does it? Grave robbers would have snatched the body, wrapped temporarily in a linen grave shroud, as it was, and made a run for it before the guards could get back with reinforcements. That is not what happened. Now comes the interesting bit, the grave clothes were left as if the body had been slipped out of them, not possible if the descriptions of how a body was wrapped are accurate. But another key element is the position and condition of the clothe used to wrap the head - lying apart from the grave cloth and carefully rolled and placed. Again, this is not the action of a grave robber or body snatcher and the evidence suggests that both of these conditions where directly the cause of the frenzy of the Sanhedrin. What needs to be clearly understood here is that a host used the rolling of his napkin and its careful placement on the table as a signal to his servants to clear away the meal - in other words, a signal that the meal is complete.

So, we have a stone opened apparently without the use of tools, a body removed from its grave wrappings without disarranging the wrappings and a head clothe used to indicate that the task is finished. And now we come to the witnesses who all fail to recognise the risen Christ until, by some small gesture, action or, as in the case of Mary Magdalene, the use of a name or a tone of voice, reveals Him to them. What does this suggest? That the resurrection occurred in a manner that was beyond normal human experience and that the disfigured and broken man laid in the tomb rose from it renewed and in a form which we may all one day experience.

The work of a gang staging an elaborate ruse? I think not, there was not the time or the opportunity to pull this off. Those who were there did not doubt that what thy were witnessing was something extraordinary and the very diversity of experience and of witness description and detail lends strength to the physical evidence of the grave cloths.

Christ IS risen. Alleluia!

3 comments:

  1. Happy Easter... and by the way, I like the new blog layout

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  2. That's a very interesting analysis of an event that has changed the shape of the world for over 2 centuries. As a hopeful agnostic (and still searching!), I find that kind of explanation helpful. What's your take on the Turin Shroud?

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  3. GF - Thanks and the same to you and yours.

    Jim - I'm glad you find this encouraging. On the Shroud, I'm neutral, the evidence is very ambiguous, with pollen from plants only found in the Holy Land and some confusing analysis results of the cloth itself. And no one has yet explained satisfactorily the image that it carries or how that was created ....

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