A few years ago, the world’s top historians gathered together and made a list, of what they considered to be, the top 100 significant events in the history of the world. They discussed events such as: the discovery of America; invention of the airplane; nuclear fusion; the first printing press; putting a man into space, etc.
Number four on the list was the life of Jesus. Initially, I was a bit upset that they hadn’t put Jesus at number one, but then I realised they’d put the ‘Life’ of Jesus. History records there was a man called Jesus who lived a moral life, taught about the things of God and died on a cross. Few people would disagree that Jesus was, and is, an amazing person and if Jesus had simply lived and died like everybody else, that’s probably about the best you could say about Him – number four on the list, just ahead of the many teachers, gurus and moral philosophers who have graced our world.
But what makes Jesus different is that He not only died on a cross, He came back to life. And nobody else has ever done that – that’s what makes this the most significant event in the history of the world because it’s never been done. It’s a first. An original. And, to date, still an absolute ‘one off.’ However, when it comes to a belief in the empty tomb, many people refuse to believe it. Jesus dies and that’s it. Many people think the same thing.
For almost 2,000 years politicians, religious leaders, academics, lawyers and detectives, have all attempted to establish that Jesus didn’t rise from the dead. Yet their conclusions, however disagreeable to them, and sometimes to us, state that only a resurrection from the dead can adequately account for the phenomenon they were investigating. A former Lord Chief Justice, Lord Darling, said:
In its favour as living truth there exists such overwhelming evidence, positive and negative, factual and circumstantial that no intelligent jury in the world could fail to bring in a verdict that the resurrection story is true.
Whatever your scepticism, you can’t deny the experience of the many Christians down the centuries, and around one billion people in the world today, who celebrate Jesus’ rising from the dead and who would testify to the fact that Jesus has changed their lives: transforming the darkest of situations; healing the most broken of lives; and bringing hope and purpose where there was none.
I recognise that the empty tomb may be difficult to understand, that it may exhaust our imagination and push our ability to reason breaking point. But that is no reason not to believe in it and in what it points to – a God who cares so much that he entered our world to bring in His kingdom and show us a better way to live.
Easter Sunday celebrates the impossible – a dead man rising from the dead. It is the story of the ultimate triumph over evil, of love and forgiveness, as God demonstrates his victory over death. The resurrection isn’t just an event that sits 2,000 years ago in history, it’s the ‘Greatest Story Ever Told’ and this is why Easter is such a significant celebration in the Christian Church and one you shouldn’t miss!
May I extend an invitation to join with us here at Emmanuel (details of our Easter services can be found here ) or any of the great churches in Billericay, as we journey through Holy Week from the: Praise of Palm Sunday; Poignancy of Maundy Thursday; Sorrow of Good Friday; Fun of Family Time on Holy Saturday; and the Joy of Celebration on Easter Day.
May God’s richest blessing be upon you as you prepare to celebrate all the Easter season brings.
This is a copy of my article for the April 2017 edition of the Billericay ‘Around Town Magazine’