The evidence for the …. Platypus
In 1770 Captain Cook discovered Australia. Ignore the fact that the indigenous population, the aborigines, had discovered it thousands of years before and it was their home. Suddenly the Western world was fascinated by this cut-off continent with very different wildlife.
The early explorers were intrigued by mammals that hopped along and put their young in little pouches. They found cuddly little bears up eucalyptus trees. And so much more. And they categorised them as mammals, fish, birds and reptiles.
Until they found the platypus.
The first explorers wrote back and described its fur, which meant it could swim better underwater. Just like a beaver or an otter. So it must be a mammal they said. And they believed in the platypus as a mammal. This was easy.
And then more reports. They described its beak. Not a nose. Not a trunk. A beak. Just like a duck. So it must really be a bird. And they stopped believing in the platypus as a mammal and believed in the platypus as a bird. After all, it couldn’t be both. That’s not how it worked
And then they had more reports. It had webbed feet. So it must be a fish to help it swim. And they stopped believing in the platypus as a mammal or as a bird and believed it was a fish. But this couldn’t possibly be right. A mammal or a bird or a fish. At least it wasn’t a reptile.
And then the explorers saw how it produced its young. It produced eggs. Certainly birds do so but also reptiles. And now they stopped believing altogether. This was impossible.
They trusted the explorers but they couldn’t believe what they had written. It couldn’t possibly be right. They asked for more evidence.
In due course a platypus pelt, it’s skin, arrived back in Western Europe. This was now too far-fetched. Fur as an animal, flat duck beak, webbed feet. It was all dismissed as a hoax, fake fur
And then in 1884, 100 years after Australia was discovered, a few live platypus were brought back to England. They saw it was all true including they saw the eggs. They were astonished and they believed.
Great minds had refused to accept that the platypus existed.
It didn’t fit with how people thought the world operated, the difference between mammals, fish, birds and reptiles. So they rejected what they were told even though they had reliable evidence from the explorers.
They refused to trust reliable evidence.
Today you can see platypus in many zoos. I was once fortunate enough to see a pair in the wild in Australia. Beautiful but very secretive creatures.
Do we treat the resurrection the same?
In our first service we looked in more detail at the evidence for the resurrection. We were satisfied that there was clear evidence that Jesus body was dead. Not swooned or fainted. Not in some coma. Not faking it. No one at the time suggested Jesus was not dead. And then we looked at the resurrection body. It had clearly gone from where the dead body was laid. So unless someone had taken it, and there were Roman soldiers specifically placed outside the tomb to make sure that didn’t happen, then the body had risen from the dead. But not as a ghost or a zombie or some sort of supernatural robot. But as a clearly identifiable person. Talking, walking, eating, being himself. And this resurrection changed the lives of the early disciples. From complete cowards they became bold preachers. From hiding in locked rooms they spoke in the public places. They changed the day of worship to a Sunday instead of the religious sabbath, Saturday. The risen Jesus, the resurrection Jesus, was seen by very many over a period of 40 days. This was no ghostly phenomena. This happened.
And what was amazing is that he had said this would happen and it happened.
But no one expected it. Even when he had said this is what would happen, they thought it would be something else. When the reports of the platypus arrived, they thought the story were wrong and they didn’t believe it. But just like the evidence of the platypus, the evidence of the resurrection stands up. It meets ordinary burden of proof. Even though it’s not what we expect and therefore we say it can’t possibly be true.
After careful examination of the evidence, which I encourage you to do, we have to go with the facts even if they support something very unusual and very unexpected. Unusual. Meet the platypus. Unexpected. The resurrection from a dead body of someone who claimed to be the son of God, our saviour.
Because the resurrection changes everything. If the resurrection is true this Easter Sunday, then Jesus is not just an historical person. Not just a good person. Not just someone committed to social justice. Not just a sacrificial way of living. Not just an inspirational speaker.
He can only be what he said he was. God come to earth. God come to take us from our fallen, failed, inadequate and insufficient selves. God come to give us a new life just as Jesus, as man, had new life in his resurrection. God come to give us forgiveness of sins, peace of mind and body, to be the people we could be and should be. God come to fulfil his incredible plans for creation through us.
The evidence for the resurrection is well and truly proven on the balance of probabilities. But God deliberately doesn’t give us evidence beyond reasonable doubt. He wants us to reach out to him in faith. Faith which is not brainless or illogical or for crazies. Faith based on facts. But faith reaching out on those facts. Faith which believes. Faith in the new life in Christ. Will you reach out in faith this Easter to the resurrected Jesus?
So I wish you a very happy Easter. Confident that as we believe in the resurrection, we are believing on reliable evidence and relying on his salvation for us.
The Lord is risen. He is risen indeed hallelujah