British novelist Charlotte Bronte once wrote, “The writer who possesses the creative gift owns something of which he is not always master–something that at times strangely wills and works for itself.”
Being a Christian, I believe that gift’s Master to be the very One who gives it. Basis? Sure. “What makes you better than anyone else? What do you have that God hasn’t given you? And if all you have is from God, why boast as though you have accomplished something on your own?” (1 Cor. 4:7)
Being a writer, it’s rare that I have little to give in return. Usually there are several ideas in this or that holding pattern across my mind’s airspace. This morning is no exception.
So much could be planted in the rich, fertile soil of historical reality. Nowhere is this more evident than in the events surrounding the fulcrum upon which all the rest of history balances: the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.
It is Good Friday. Today the Church remembers the iron-scented stench of recently-spilled blood; the raw-edged hideous lacerations exposing white-grey ribs; the raucous, ribald laughter of roughened army veterans who’d seen it all before; and the frustrated, uncomprehending disbelief and weeping of those who’d pinned so many hopes on this Jesus from Nazareth.
Sadly, too many believers seem stuck in a kind of spiritual time-warp, a wormhole of the will that acknowledges the Cross and the death and stops there. If I leave it all there, ending with the cross, I’m free from any annoying busybodies trying to convince me there’s something inside not quite right. To accept the Resurrection as fact changes all that.
“IT IS DONE” from the Cross was the turning of the ignition key for every wonderful thing God ever planned for you and I. Those who thought they’d finally rid Earth of this upstart messiah, this pest had no clue . . .
“Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, ‘They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.’ So Peter went out with the other disciple, and they were going toward the tomb. Both of them were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. And stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen cloths lying there, and the face cloth, which had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen cloths but folded up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that he must rise from the dead.” –John 20:1-9
“While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, ‘Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen.'” –Luke 24:4-6
And He had. He is. With respect to those of you whose ground of personal faith is other than Christian, I offer the following collection of thoughts from across Time’s spectrum. As always, it is not my intent to push my personal beliefs on you. You must choose those for yourself. I have lived according to the precepts found in the Bible all my life and found them trustworthy and their Author worth serving.
Resurrection Day Considerations
“It is the duty of all men in society, publicly, and at stated seasons, to worship the SUPREME BEING, the great Creator and Preserver of the universe.” –John Adams
“Adore God. Reverence and cherish your parents. Love your neighbor as yourself, and your country more than yourself. Be just. Be true. Murmur not at the ways of Providence.” –Thomas Jefferson
“When I survey the wondrous cross, On which the Prince of Glory died, My richest gain I count but loss, And pour contempt on all my pride.” –Isaac Watts
“The ecclesiastical establishments of Europe, which serve to support tyrannical governments, are not the christian religion, but abuses and corruptions of it. The religion of Christ and his apostles, in its primitive simplicity and purity, unencumbered with the trappings of power and the pomp of ceremonies, is the surest basis of a republican government.” –Noah Webster
“Life is real! Life is earnest! And the grave is not its goal.” –Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
“When divine souls appear, men are compelled by their own self-respect to distinguish them.” –Ralph Waldo Emerson
“It was not for societies or states that Christ died, but for men.” –C.S. Lewis
“I still can’t help wondering how we can explain away what to me is the greatest miracle of all and which is recorded in history. No one denies there was such a man, that he lived and that he was put to death by crucifixion. Where … is the miracle I spoke of? Well consider this and let your imagination translate the story into our own time — possibly to your own home town. A young man whose father is a carpenter grows up working in his father’s shop. One day he puts down his tools and walks out of his father’s shop. He starts preaching on street corners and in the nearby countryside, walking from place to place, preaching all the while, even though he is not an ordained minister. He never gets farther than an area perhaps 100 miles wide at the most. He does this for three years. Then he is arrested, tried and convicted. There is no court of appeal, so he is executed at age 33 along with two common thieves. Those in charge of his execution roll dice to see who gets his clothing — the only possessions he has. His family cannot afford a burial place for him so he is interred in a borrowed tomb. End of story? No, this uneducated, property-less young man has, for 2,000 years, had a greater effect on the world than all the rulers, kings, emperors; all the conquerors, generals and admirals, all the scholars, scientists and philosophers who have ever lived — all of them put together. How do we explain that — unless He really was what He said He was?” –President Ronald Reagan (1911-2004)
“Okay, Dan, but aren’t you just skipping over the events of The Crucifixion?”
No. Death by crucifixion happened with disgusting regularity then. To many it was a real yawner, like the half-lidded look you get from your kid when you tell them intensely-violent vidgames are bad for them. It’s called desensitization.
Jesus made all the difference. He still does. And THAT’s why I’d rather focus everyone’s attention of the fact of Jesus’s rising from the ugliness, loss and separation Death had been before this history-dividing event.
No longer are Godly people who die, of any race in any nation, separated from God or from Christian family and friends who have died. Jesus’s Resurrection brings life, togetherness, and light where before there was only death, parting and murky, confusing darkness.
To focus only on the cross is to deny the mind-boggling, life-altering intensity of Resurrection power. And that power is available to anybody–anybody–who looks to Jesus in personal repentance and seeks His forgiveness and Lordship.
Don’t know about you, but I’d rather focus on that empty grave.
Because Jesus lives you and I can, too.