Easter is something that happened in history, but it is far more than that. It is something affecting the history of man forever. The destiny of mankind is bound up in that long-ago event called the Resurrection. It is now, as it was then, a matter of life and death both for the individual and for the human race.
We are a dying world. The masses, clutching at life, thrust onward to the ravenous grave. Men whose names are like a fire in the earth, along with the nameless nobodies, march endlessly toward the mighty silence. All kingdoms and all kings have a destiny with the dust.
Where, then, on this death-ship in space, does one turn for hope? Where, except to that open tomb that lies not very far from the hill where stood a naked cross? That tomb is like a silent shout of hope from God. And if that shout does not matter, then all men must die forever, and Christians, of all men, are most miserable!
Turn to Nature and ask here: If a man die, shall he live again? Nature has no answer, even if the poets have sometimes beguiled us into thinking otherwise. Nature knows nothing of a resurrection! Spring, to be sure, is a lovely wonder. The seed-tombs burst and life leaps forth. But this can be a delusion! Have you never reveled in a swirl of blossoms and felt deep in your mind the warning that the blossoms would go like snow under the sun? The red rose blowing in the wind is something of a prophecy about withered petals to come. The fluffy kitten, lightning-fast on the floor, is not far removed from a bedraggled cat creeping to its end. On bright young faces too soon we see the tracings of time that foreshadow faces sagging and aged.
Nature has no resurrection. Clearly Jesus saw this! The grass, he said, that blows green in the field today will tomorrow be cut down and cast into the kiln. New grass will come, but it will go the way of all grass. Spring is so near to autumn! The cradle is so close to the coffin! Nature does not teach us the doctrine of eternal life more than she teaches us the doctrine of eternal death.
Turn to the scientist. He cannot tell you about resurrection. He can but promise you that you will die. He will keep you alive as long as he can, but after that you must take the journey alone—and he may even take it before you! Science ends its business at the grave. The slide rules and test tubes cannot help. No matter what data you feed into a computer, no words about resurrection will be delivered. Automation, electronics, cybernetics are for this world only.
All streets are dead-end streets, except the one to the empty tomb. And even that tomb is wrapped in mystery. How can you put any answer it gives in definite terms? Like the Man whom it could not hold, it speaks in parables. Seek only proof of a historical Happening for that first Easter and you will not be satisfied. Even the Scriptures never attempt to explain how it happened. No man was there to watch it happen. This was God’s business. He alone could handle it. He alone witnessed it. We must take his Word for it!
And here we come upon a high point of great inquiry. How do we know about the reality of this Easter event? On what grounds do we believe that he crashed out of the grave? We say, if only we could have walked with him and watched him die, and could have seen him afterward! But those who did walk with him and watch him die were the ones who could not believe! True, the Calvary-wounds did convince Thomas, but how quickly Jesus cried, “Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed!” Remember those disciples en route to Emmaus? They stood face to face with him after his break-out from the sepulchre, and they could only lament his death! Did he attempt a scientific explanation of his defeat of death? No, he turned to the Scriptures. There is my story, he said, beginning at Moses.
An empty grave may not be enough to explain a resurrection! How eagerly those first post-resurrection cynics pounced on the rumor of a “stolen body”! Only the Word, backed by the Spirit, can give the real reason for the unoccupied sepulchre.
Some men have tried the Scriptures and know that they cannot be broken. Such men hold all of God’s promises believable. They have found “newness of life,” God’s Spirit witnesses to their own spirits, they have “passed from death unto life.” They have, time on time, proved the Word to be true in their own lives. How shall they doubt when the Word claims that Christ has outwitted death?
Easter is not for everybody! It is not for those who must have a blueprint on how miracles are done. The Resurrection is for those who have come into the Kingdom by the cross. They have made the death-march to life through self-surrender, and to them “the mysteries of the Kingdom” are made known. Easter is not to them just a special day, or the Ressurrection a theological term. They walk in sight of the open tomb. Christ, for them, has risen indeed. Death has no more dominion over him, nor has it dominion over them who breathe the breath of his immortality. They believe him when he promises, “Because I live, you shall live also.”
The Christ who turns the ugly, naked cross into a sign of salvation makes also the ugly, naked tomb proclaim the Gospel of life that never ends. The people of the Word have the Resurrection at the heart of their witness. They walk the world with Easter in their lives.
Lon Woodrum is an evangelist and author who has written more than two dozen books and two thousand articles and has traveled two million miles in evangelistic work.
Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.
Subscribe to Christianity Today and get access to this article plus 65+ years of archives.
- Home delivery of CT magazine
- Complete access to articles on ChristianityToday.com
- Over 120 years of magazine archives plus full access to all of CT’s online archives
- Learn more