Zombies, Jesus and John 16,
12 “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. 13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. 14 He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. 15 All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.”
So…yesterday was Easter…(edit: the day before yesterday…) (edit: So, Sunday was Easter!)
Every Easter since my hubby, Brian, was in grad school, at least one of our friends has picked on us for being educated and “believing in zombies.” They laugh at our Christianity because it’s based on Jesus being raised from the dead which is “as idiotic as believing in zombies”.
So, let’s just step back a minute and honestly look at what scriptures say:
In Matthew 27: 53, the Bible says, “The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people.”
I will admit, that’s a little freaky! I honestly, kinda wish it wasn’t in the Bible
Because, the simple, fact of the matter is there are rules about how things work and one of those rules is that people aren’t raised from the dead. We have all been to enough funerals to understand the finality of death. We see graveyards. If there is one thing we as human beings know it is that death is the end of this life. As certain as we know we need to breathe, we know that the end of breathing is final. So, in a room full of intellectuals, it does feel a little awkward to say that I believe in people being raised from the dead.
Even if we don’t like the rules of how this world works, we are all pretty comfortable with and convinced that there are rules. When you look at the rules, the order and complexity of the universe, many people recognize that there must be a higher power.
My husband is a mathematician and it is not uncommon for mathematicians to believe in God because they understand the extreme order in the universe. Believe it or not, several of the math nerds* that we know actually say that they find the level of math that they work on to be worshipful. When they see the complex order of things like how electricity works (and a bunch of other stuff that I don’t understand) they know life can’t just be random. The universe reflects a God of order.
I have mentioned several times in my posts, that the physicists who were working on the Big Bang Theory were completely freaked out when they realized that there had to be an outside force acting to initiate THE BANG.
If, like me, you believe that force was God, then it’s not such a huge leap to believe that the God who enacted all of that and gave us this whole universe, could raise a few people from the dead.
I don’t think the real struggle for us is that God could do the things reported in the Bible, what we really struggle with is why.
As I thought of this, I remembered a renowned Christian apologist coming to a church I used to attend, to explain science and the Bible to us. The speaker was an arrogant jerk who laughed about atheists going to hell.
This guy had devoted his whole life to proving that God could and did raise Jesus from the dead but he seemed to be missing the point. His life wasn’t defined by the love and forgiveness Jesus modeled. He was promoting an arrogant religious defense of what he believed.** His obnoxious demeanor may have been because this man didn’t understand the why.
In John 16, John records more of Jesus’ final teachings for his disciples. He explains AGAIN that they are going to be persecuted, that he is returning to the Father and that he will send the advocate (Holy Spirit). The disciples didn’t understand the why either.
17 At this, some of his disciples said to one another, “What does he mean by saying, ‘In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me,’ and ‘Because I am going to the Father’?” 18 They kept asking, “What does he mean by ‘a little while’? We don’t understand what he is saying.”
The disciples walked around with Jesus for three years. He taught them. They had front row seats to all of the miracles. They were wowed at the way he accepted the outcasts and confounded the religious elite. They had no trouble believing that he was from God or even that he was God.
They were ready to follow him into battle and defeat Rome. They were ready to set up a worldly kingdom. They were ready to spread his teaching.
But when he told them that he was going to die and return and empower them, they argued. They scratched their heads and they stood around questioning.
Because it’s hard to understand why this works, why God would want to do things this way, why he cares about us, or why he doesn’t just zap us all a lot more. (I mean if I was God, I’d be all about zapping and smiting!)
As much as it scares me to say it, I believe that you can’t fully understand the why without help from the Holy Spirit. I know it sounds freaky, like a bizarre cult thing to say “you can’t really understand my religion until you are immersed in it.”
One difference is that there are tons of archeological evidences, historical evidences, extra-Biblical writings, psychological proofs, and slews of other proofs that verify that Jesus was real and that he came from God.
But the bigger difference is that the truth of the why is love. Love like we have never known. Love that is willing to break the rules for the greater good. Love that serves. Love that forgives. Love that doesn’t care about social boundaries, religion, wealth, or politics: just people. Love that heals and puts us and all our messiness in right standing with a God who is perfect.
It sounds super nice to say it and most anyone on the planet would say that love is a great thing. But taking that love outside of our rules is a whole different ball game. We understand loving people who love us. We understand helping people who are needy. But loving people who hurt us over and over; people who hate us; people who are selfish and mean; that’s a different story. Why would we do that?
Why would God do that? Why would he love us? Why would he not be impressed by our ability to follow rules? Why would he choose to serve us rather than rule over us? Why would he live in poverty when he could have had wealth and privilege? Why would he suffer for us? Why….
And if you look at popular Christian culture in America, you will see a whole culture that is just as far from understanding the why as my friends who make the zombie jokes. Some are caught up in following all of the rules to earn salvation. Others are focused on wealth and ease which they believe are signs that they have earned God’s favor. They have taken Jesus’ teachings and made them into lists of what to believe, what to do, and how to do it without understanding the why.
Even my friends who laugh about zombie Jesus and the zombie saints chasing people around Jerusalem would probably have to admit that if there is a God, that he surely wouldn’t have a problem raising people from the dead.
But you, me, and them all sit around scratching our heads together over the question of “Sure God could, but why would he?”
The why is what we need help understanding. We need the Holy Spirit. We can reason out most of the truths of Christianity on our own, but the deep love that God has for us which compelled him to step into history and break his own ordered rules of creation is beyond our understanding.
That’s why we have so much trouble living it out. We all know people who claim to be Christians but are the most judgmental bitter people on the planet.
It’s because we have to live daily with his love in order to begin to grasp it. The answer to why? is amazing transforming love.
It is this love, that Jesus said people would see and know that we belong to him. (Jn, 13:35)
The answer to why? really does change everything.
Blessings my friends! Thank you for reading. Double thanks for sharing!!
* 3/5 (60%) of my family are mathematicians so I use the term math nerd in the most respectful, loving way possible!
**I’m completely grateful for groups like Reasons to Believe who are actually super brainy scientists and Christians. I read their stuff all the time. I’m most impressed that their founder Hugh Ross is an incredibly humble man. I have seen him being attacked in interviews and he is never hostile or arrogant in return.
I am a really strange mix of a hippie, Calypso, Southern Belle, Madea- wannabe, Christian with the attitude of a Rhode Islander! I’m fascinated with people’s stories, I love to laugh at life with people and I’m genuinely trying to follow Jesus’ teachings. Strangely, my search for truth often has me at odds with American Christians who believe themselves to be the guardians of this truth. I was kicked out of Sunday School as a child for asking too many questions. I learned to repress them but my questions never went away. Thankfully as an adult, I feel completely free to pursue answers. Turns out, God is pretty big and not nearly as upset with my questions as his followers tend to be!
In John 15:18-20, Jesus says, “if you belonged to the world, it would…