Here we are; it’s finally Easter. This is the perfect time to talk about … Christmas.
Christmas?! Well, sure, why not? It only seems logical that as the Christian community directs its attention this week to the Resurrection of Jesus, we should also give some thought to the miracle that made it all possible: the Incarnation.
Most people consider the Easter Resurrection to be a stunning miracle. And, of course, it is. But let me ask you, which is more stunning, that Almighty God—who shaped inert molecules into living, breathing human beings in the first place—was able to re-animate the dead body of one particular person at one particular time in history, or that this supernatural, ever-living God would take on human flesh Himself?
The power of God is plainly evident to all who sincerely look. Who designed and created us? Impersonal natural processes? Sure. Our kidneys filter poison from the blood and leave the good stuff alone. How do they know one from the other? Survival of the fittest? Uh huh. Who told the eye’s pupil to open wide in low light and to shrink quickly in bright light? Random genetic mutation? Yeah, right.
Think of it this way: hundreds of the best techno-nerds on Microsoft’s payroll work for years to write the millions of lines of software code needed to bring their various Windows operating systems to market. And even then, the programs have plenty of bugs and glitches. Still, no one would deny that a lot of intelligence, a lot of designing, and a lot of effort went into creating those software programs.
However, the intricate computer code of the Windows operating system is like a crude pile of Tinker Toys when compared to the genetic code written in DNA molecules within each and every cell of our bodies. It just wrote itself without any outside planning or intelligence? Chaos plus chance plus time equals intricate complexity? Impersonal, purposeless evolution explains our existence? There is no God? Sorry, that is too great a leap of faith for me.
The power and majesty of God is plain for all to see. I am delighted, but not really surprised, that this powerful God caused a crucified Rabbi to regain life 2,000 years ago in Palestine. If He has the power to create life out of chaos, He certainly can breathe life back into a once-living organism if He so chooses.
What I find absolutely stunning is that this powerful and majestic God loved His little human creations so much that He became one of them. The power of God—I’m not surprised. The love of God—I’m positively awestruck.
This is why Christmas strikes me as being a more amazing miracle than Easter. Obviously the love of God and the power of God are present in both events. Jesus didn’t allow Himself to be tortured and killed just so He could perform a fancy magic trick three days later. It was His burning love for humanity that made Him offer up His own life as an atoning sacrifice for sin. As St. Paul wrote in Romans 5:8, “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Christmas was when this whole spectacular plan of redemption began. It all happened through God’s mighty power. But it all happened because of God’s overflowing love for us.
Once I finally came to believe that there really is a God (oh well, age 27 was better late than never), I never doubted that He possessed the power to do whatever miracle He wants—even raising the dead.
But it sometimes boggles my mind as to why He would waste his time saving a bunch of self-centered, ungrateful creatures like we humans. His love is that unfathomable. That is why Easter is easy for me to believe. It is Christmas with which I struggle.
Many people are just the opposite. They have no problem believing that the little baby in the Bethlehem manger was really Emmanuel, “God with us.” But when it comes to Easter, well, come on now, modern science has proven that resurrections can’t happen, right? (I find it odd that we let our views of supernatural phenomena be shaped by a field of study which, by definition, can only concern itself with natural phenomena. That’s kind of like saying, “Well, we just have to follow Fred’s medical advice. After all, he is a successful car salesman.” Modern society says, “Well, we have to follow the scientist’s advice about supernatural events. After all, they study only natural events.”)
But if you really were convinced that we were honoring the Son of God three-and-a-half months ago during the Christmas holiday, but today think it is a little bit too impossible to believe that a dead guy got up and walked, you’ve got it all backwards. The divine baby in that manger is the difficult leap of faith. If He really was who the Gospels say He was, then what happened in a Jerusalem graveyard early on a Sunday morning 33 years later is a piece of cake to accept.