A friend asked me if I believed in the resurrection. I’ve been uncomfortable with saying “Yes” because I’m skeptical of the somewhat weak explanations I’ve heard. I’m also uncomfortable with saying “No” because I’ve always believed in my heart of hearts that there is something to it. In other words, I believe in the Resurrection but have not the words to describe it in a way that I feel is honest.
I do know that I feel the living Jesus in my spiritual life. He is where I find God. It’s hard to find a living God in a dead man. I don’t think he is literally seating on a big right hand in the clouds or that his dead body was reanimated, a sort of living corpse. What I do believe is more instinct than thought. It’s hard to explain what is largely ineffable. I love my son more than I have ever thought possible. I experience that love as real as a hammer hitting me on the thumb. But how does one explain that to another person, logically, definitively? The same with the Resurrection. I think “Yeah” and for Russell’s Teapot “No.” But why? I don’t know.
It’s really hard to put belief, love, art, etc. of the human experience into some logical, intellectually rigorous language. I’ve been pondering atheism for a while lately and it’s always bothered me that I couldn’t prove my beliefs before it. (I know that’s mostly ego, but since I’m trying to be honest I might as well lay it out there.) I know that’s a fools errand mostly because the game is fixed. It would be like trying to prove an unexplained event scientifically. The very rules of science preclude one from doing so. It didn’t stop the event from happening, but you still can’t prove it.
So how do I know Jesus lives? Well, I’ve had my share of spiritual experiences and while not mystical like some spiritual adepts, they did have a profound effect on me. Jesus said that whenever two or three are gathered in my name I am there with them. I agree from my experience. I also look to the experiences of others spelled out in the Bible and understood by our faith tradition. The elements of not wishful thinking, but having to be dragged into belief were persuasive for me. They all had to learn the hard way. The apostles thought the women who spoke to the angel were talking nonsense but they had a visitor change their minds. Thomas who missed the first visit had to see and touch for himself before he believed but in the end he did believe. They all did. Disciples on the Road to Emmaus didn’t really “see” Jesus until he broke bread and blessed it. Paul claimed that Jesus’ resurrected body was unlike ours and his start in faith by the resurrected Jesus literally knocked him off his feet. What this leads me to believe is two things: (1) something happened and (2) it was something that people dimly understand. Otherwise I am sure it would be described like any other miracle in our Gospels in great, sometimes conflicting detail.
I’ve lived long enough to know the difference between something being unproven and something being false. And for me that difference is enough for faith. Hey, perhaps God wanted it that way.