My granddaughter received a couple of pet rabbits for her birthday earlier this year. In order to avoid any multiplication of these creatures, the family was assured that they were in possession of two males of the species. Therefore it was quite a surprise when newborn bunnies were recently discovered in the hutch – just in time for Easter.
At the news of this occurrence, no one jumped to the conclusion that there had been some kind of miraculous conception. No, it was determined that a mistake had been made, and one of those pets was actually a female, apparently an easy error to make when dealing with young rabbits.
I find it interesting that when news of Jesus’ empty tomb became known, almost no one initially took it to be the result of some kind of miracle or resurrection. It’s reassuring to realize that most people looked toward a natural explanation as their first tendency. Certainly that wouldn’t have been the case if this was all some concocted plan to try to make it appear as if Jesus had risen when He hadn’t. Those disciples and other witnesses only became convinced as the evidence mounted and eventually became undeniable that Jesus had truly risen from the grave.
When Mary Magdalene saw the empty tomb she broke down in tears. Her comments to the angels who appeared on the scene as well as to Jesus Himself before she recognized Him expressed her belief that someone had removed the body. When the women told the disciples about the tomb being empty, their words were met with disbelief. Peter and John ran to the tomb to see the evidence for themselves. Even as Jesus began to appear to various individuals, there were still doubts raised, and not just by Thomas who has become infamous for his hesitancy to accept the reality of what had happened. Many were slow to believe that something miraculous had occurred. However, as the resurrected Jesus appeared and the number of eye-witnesses grew, it became clear that there had been a divinely-powered resurrection from the dead.
People today still have a hard time believing in the reality of the resurrection of Jesus. And that’s understandable. We tend to gravitate toward natural explanations unless we have good reason to think otherwise. However, in this case there is plenty of reason to accept the truth we celebrate here at Easter. There is a tomb which is still empty. There are eye-witnesses, not just a few, and not only individual sightings – but even hundreds who all saw the resurrected Jesus at the same time. The evidence discounts all the theories about Jesus not having really died, or the women going to the wrong tomb, or the disciples stealing the body. In addition to everything else, it’s hard to imagine these group of followers being so dedicated to a lie or deception that they would all hold firm to it, even giving their lives in behalf of some false narrative. When the evidence is viewed, it all points to the unique event of a resurrection.
What we’re commemorating here at Easter isn’t merely some allegory about new life or some religious fairy tale. It isn’t just a story someone made up after the fact in order to make Jesus appear to be greater than He was. It’s a real, historical event. There is more reason to believe in the resurrection of Jesus than to believe in many other facts of history which we readily accept.
Sometimes events do defy natural explanations. God does do the miraculous. Maybe we didn’t see it for ourselves, but others did. “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29). He is risen!