In my previous post I argued that the crucifixion of Jesus, rather than being the fulfilment of his own and his disciples’ hopes, was the utter and virtually irrefutable destruction of them. He, and they, had expected that God would intervene in the course of history to bring his good kingdom on earth, destroying the forces of evils – including the ruling powers of the present – and installing Jesus and his followers as rulers of the new order. Jesus would be the messiah and his followers would be his co-regents.
Instead, Jesus was arrested, tried, humiliated, tortured, and crucified. This was not an end that ANYONE anticipated for a “messiah.” And this kind of fate showed conclusively to anyone paying attention that Jesus was not, after all, the messiah. He was just the opposite of the messiah. Instead of a figure of grandeur and power who had destroyed the enemies of God, Jesus was a weak and insignificant figure who had been crushed by his enemies. No greater disconfirmation of his expectations could be imagined.
But that disconfirmation itself came to be reversed. The followers of Jesus – not long, evidently, after his death – came to believe he had been raised from the dead. What had been disconfirmed in such a radical and decisive way at his death was reconfirmed in an equally radical and decisive way by his return from the dead. This belief led the disciples to believe Jesus really was the one they had hoped he would be, but it forced them to reconceptualize what it *meant* to say that Jesus was the messiah. This reconceptualiziation marks the beginning of Christianity, the religion that forever changed the history of the world.
Why did the early followers come to believe he had been raised from the dead? I have …
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