Just Like Jesus – Who Moved the Stone: Probabilities & Improbabilities
The vintage hymn proclaims: “Up from the grave He arose. With a mighty triumph o’er His foes.” Although a long time Easter favorite it is the anthem for Christ-followers every day. It is the eternal event and the ultimate question for humankind. Our study through the Gospel of Mark drew to a close as we celebrated the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ this past weekend. The Gospel of Mark concludes in a manner that leaves it to us to decide if we will follow Jesus. Pastor Ed challenged everyone to make a decision.
An interesting and compelling point discussed by Ed was illustrated with a probability study.
The fulfilling of a mere eight prophecies of the coming Messiah in the Old Testament by Jesus was calculated to be 1 x 1017 – that is one chance in 1,000,000,000,000,000,000. I have no idea what that number is called but Ed gave the example of what it looks like using the entire State of Texas covered two feet deep with silver dollars and finding one specially-marked silver dollar mixed in by a blindfolded man on his first attempt. This would be astounding to say the least. The idea and probability of Jesus fulfilling exactly more than 60 prophecies is beyond imagination but is exactly what He did. Who is Jesus? He is exactly who He says He is. Who is Jesus in your life?
Was Jesus merely a highly successful soothsayer or orchestrator of events? Since Ed mentioned gambling consider this: The chances of winning the Powerball Lottery are approximately 1 in 300 million. This number is based on picking all six of the numbers correctly out of the numerous combinations possible. For most of us, this is seemingly an out of the reach accomplishment yet we spend billions for the chance of winning. People do win. We say how lucky these people. What about fortune tellers, psychics, or others who purportedly know future events? But if our current crop of fortune tellers were so all-knowing wouldn’t these individuals constantly win all the lotteries in this nation? We all know the answer to this. Yet Jesus fulfilled all prophecies, predicted His death and resurrection then actually did it and we humans dismiss this as fable or myth even though the probabilities far, far, exceed those of winning the Powerball.
Questions of existence, meaning and purpose are on the minds of many people. Everyday life is full of challenges and struggles. Having a good life, living well, experiencing fulfilling relationship is so desired but often are difficult to obtain. Whether it’s making the right decision in the board room or in the living room depends upon where our faith in life resides. Ed quoted Dallas Willard. “There is no problem in human life that apprenticeship to Jesus cannot solve.” Becoming a Christ-follower is a faith decision. Faith is only as good as the object of that faith. Many of us would never stake our lives, in other words, put our faith in life on winning the Powerball because the probabilities are so “astronomical” in our minds. The probability of Jesus fulfilling all the prophecies, including the most important of them all, rising from the dead make faith in Jesus more than compelling.