Resurrection was reckoned to be impossible, and yet, very soon after Jesus's death, many people came to be utterly convinced that it had actually happened.
The resurrection of Jesus Christ is one of the best attested events of ancient history and many attempts to provide alternative explanations of the uncontested facts, including how the early church got off the ground, have failed.
Who is Jesus?
Essentially, Christianity is all about Jesus and what you make of him - everything else is peripheral. If Jesus was just an ordinary human being, then the resurrection is impossible and, however unlikely alternative explanations of the facts may seem, one of them must be right. But if Jesus was also divine, the problem is turned on its head, as Will Stileman, the vicar of St Mary's, Maidenhead, once put it to me: 'If Jesus was the Son of God then the problem is not, "was he resurrected?" but rather, "how come he died in the first place?"'
A peace initiative
Jesus came with a mission and a message reflected in the record of his post-resurrection appearance to doubting Thomas. He came to bring peace, primarily peace between us and God but, as a consequence of that, peace between people as well. 'Peace be with you,' he says to his fear full disciples. 'Peace be with you,' he says to doubting Thomas. In his final briefing of his disciples he had said: 'Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not let them be afraid.' Jesus comes to banish fear with perfect love which casts out all fear.
I wish you all a very happy Easter,
Every so often something totally unexpected actually happens: Leicester City won the Premier League; Keith Nicholls arrived for an 8am service earlier than one minute before the start and so on. Although such things are comparatively rare, we do not have trouble believing that they have happened.
There are other things that seem so unlikely we would much more convincing before believing them. If the news headlines read 'Jeremy Corbyn " joins the Tories' or 'Richard Dawkins becomes a monk' we'd check our diaries to make sure it wasn't April 1! Yet wildly unlikely things like this do occasionally occur - Ian Paisley did share power with Martin McGuinness.
But there are further things we could never accept as having happened because we believe them to be impossible: headlines like 'new space probe travels faster than light/ or maybe for you 'Jesus Christ: resurrected from the dead'?
Not a new problem
It is temporal snobbery of the worst kind to think that Jesus's first century contemporaries were naive enough to think resurrection possible but we, with the benefit of modern biology, cannot. Jesus's contemporaries may not have known much biology, but they did know that dead people stay dead.
Search their scriptures - the Old Testament - and you'll not find any clear reference to resurrection. Many Jewish religious people didn't believe in resurrection and those who did thought it would not happen until the end of space time. No one believed resurrection in the here and now was remotely possible.
'Doubting Thomas' gets a bad press. He doubted that what he considered impossible, that Jesus had been resurrected, had in fact happened until he was faced with incontrovertible evidence. Surely that is what anyone else in his position would have done? And the risen Jesus doesn't criticise him for it: rather he blesses those who will follow and believe without seeing.