The contempt for death

When [Jesus] appeared to Peter and his companions, He said to them, “Take hold of me; touch me, and see that I am no bodiless phantom’. And they touched Him then and there, and believed, for they had had contact with the flesh-and-blood reality of Him. That was how they came by their contempt for death, and proved themselves superior to it.”
Ignatius’ Epistle to the Smyrnaeans (~130 AD), Ch. 3

As much as we try to ignore it, we are all deeply terrified by death. All philosophers and poets have known this. Scientists try to reduce it to meaninglessness with the usual hand-waving but they all know this doesn’t really work. But something happened that gave a small group of men (and women) the actual ability (not just the “courage”), to truly give death the middle finger and carry on with life in a way previously unknown to mankind. What was it? Touching the flesh-and-blood resurrected Christ Jesus.

Death hit this guy full tilt boogie and what happened to him? Nothin’. He’s back and looking better than ever and promising matter-of-factly that he’ll wake the rest of us up in the same way. On paper the apostles were part of a tiny fringe backwater Jewish sect. Not too many years later, the worship of their risen leader would dominate and shape all of Western civilization. How was such a thing possible? Their contempt for death.