My thesis for this fourth Wednesday in Lent is that Easter is the greatest event in the history of the world.
The five events of our Lord Jesus, which form these Lenten Wednesday meditations, each are, in order, the greatest events of all time. How can this be? Think of these events as you would other achievements. Take the baseball home run record. When Babe Ruth hit his 139th home run, he became the greatest home run hitter of all time, passing Roger Connor. When Hank Aaron clobbered number 715, he surpassed Ruth. That Aaron was now the home run king in no way took away from Ruth’s achievement, or Connor’s.
The same goes for Christmas, then Good Friday, and so forth. But, with the events of the Lord, it was imperative that the next event take place, or the previous event would cease to be great.
Christmas was the greatest event of all time, but Christmas would not even have made it into the record book if Good Friday had not taken place, because if God had been born into our flesh, but had not died for our sins, Christmas would have done us no good.
The same goes for Good Friday. That God-in-the-flesh Jesus died on a cross means nothing if He is not raised from the dead, because everyone dies. That Jesus died was phenomenal, because Jesus is God—let’s repeat last week’s mantra: Jesus is God. Jesus died. Therefore, God died—but, truly, if Jesus had stayed dead, His death would have been just another death. As the Holy Spirit had Paul write in First Corinthians, if Jesus had not been raised from the dead, we would be stuck in our sins (1 Corinthians 15:12-19).
But, Jesus was indeed raised from the dead, the firstfruits of all who will be raised from the dead. That is, Jesus was first, and there will be a bunch more. You and I intend to be among that bunch more.
God’s Word makes it clear that Jesus’ resurrection was imperative to the plan of salvation, and God’s Word makes it clear that Jesus was raised in His body—the same body that had been laid in the tomb—and God’s Word makes it clear that His resurrection paves the way to your own resurrection.
Yet, as there are those who are offended at the idea of Christmas—that God would have intimate contact with this world, and that God has a Son, and that God took on a body—and as there are those who are offended at the idea of Good Friday—that God died in the flesh of Jesus Christ, and that it had to be the God-man Jesus who paid for the sins of the world, and that God the Father would require a blood sacrifice—so are many offended at Easter. And, as with Good Friday, the ones who are offended at the idea of Jesus Christ being bodily raised from the dead come from inside Christianity.
The thing that always nags at us old-fashioned Christians is that the Word of God makes it so clear that Jesus came back from the grave in a body of victory over death and devil and damnation. Jesus, Himself, when the disciples were scared at whom they were seeing, ate fish before them and declared that ghosts don’t have flesh and bone as, clearly, He had. And, Jesus made sure that His resurrection was verifiable by appearing on numerous occasions, in numerous places, to numerous individuals and groups of people.
Even with all of that, there are Christians who are skeptics. They have come up with every goofy idea under the sun as to what really happened on the third day after Christ’s death. Some have said that after Jesus had been laid to rest in the cool tomb, He revived from His wounds. Are you kidding me? He had been whipped and beaten to within an inch of His life, then He had been nailed to a cross, then they pierced His side, and the water that flowed from His side showed that He had suffered congestive heart failure.
If laying people in cool tombs is so wonderfully effective at bringing them back from such horrific damage to their bodies, then why aren’t we laying in cool tombs accident victims, and stroke patients, and those battling cancer and other debilitating diseases? It seems to me we have missed out on a marvelous cure for what ails us, if it worked so well on Jesus.
Others say that Jesus didn’t really die on the cross, He only swooned. Swooned. That’s the word they use. I looked it up. To swoon means to lose consciousness, to faint, to conk out.
Still others say that, while Jesus really died, He didn’t really come back from the dead in His body. These say that Jesus’ resurrection was not from the grave, but in the hearts of the disciples. See, it’s like this: the disciples were so impressed by Jesus’ sermons and miracles, and they were doubly impressed by how He took His unjust arrest, conviction, and crucifixion, that they experienced a resurrection of Jesus in their hearts—they were so moved by Jesus’ love that they were able to conquer their fear that they, too, were going to be crucified, and they went out and became the apostles that Jesus appointed them to be.
I kid you not.
These are supposedly Christians I’m talking about, who have come up with this pure and utter nonsense. No, much worse than nonsense, it is heresy; it is dangerous to everyone’s faith, who puts their faith in any teaching that is contrary to the Word of God. Indeed, to believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ is so vital to one’s faith, look how the Spirit had Paul write about it in Romans 10:9: “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”
What we have in the resurrection of Jesus Christ is the greatest event in the history of the world. Why would anyone want to dilute what God promised, what Jesus fulfilled, what the Holy Spirit had recorded in the Bible for our joy and edification?
And, yet, still more want to dilute it. There are those who feel that the spirit is more important than the body. Is our spirit—that is, our soul—more important than our body? We are made up of both body and soul. If our soul is more important than our body, why would God the Son have been born into a body, and died in that body, and resurrected in that body? Why do we keep wanting to dilute the greatest events of all time, the incarnation of God the Son for the purpose of dying for our sins and opening the gates of eternal life through His bodily resurrection?
Since you know the rest of the story of the Ascension of our Lord Jesus, and that He will return on the Last Day to put an end to this fallen and corrupt world with the resurrection to the perfect Paradise of forever, consider how Jesus’ resurrection works for you—how Easter has come to you, personally.
In Romans 4:25, the Holy Spirit had Paul write that Jesus was put to death for our sins and raised from the dead for our justification. This means that His death paid for our sins and, with His resurrection from the dead, we stand before God’s throne with the declaration of being not guilty of our sins, for Christ’s sake.
This is the gift the Holy Spirit worked in you when He enlightened you with the gift of faith. This is the gift sealed in you when you were bathed in Jesus’ crucifixion and raised with Him in His resurrection.
He was born, and died, and raised to new life so that He would live with you and you with Him.
And so you do.
And so you do!
Easter, the greatest event in the history of the world, has set the table for our Lord’s ascension into heaven, which will be—you guessed it—the greatest event in the history of the world. Amen.