Call – Opelika-Auburn News
Why Easter is the most
glorious day of the year
Easter! I can hardly wait! Since my earliest years Easter
has been for me the most glorious day of the year. Christmas is great but no
day compares to Easter.
Looking back I can hardly believe what
my parents did every Easter morning. Very early Daddy and Mama got us out of
bed, dressed all five of us, and drove 12 miles into Montgomery. We would hurry
into Crampton Bowl, sit on those cold, concrete seats, and wait for the drama
to begin. I have no idea how many people
were in the stadium but the crowd seemed huge to me as a boy.
Across the field, on the western
hillside, there was a replica of the sealed tomb, with men dressed as Roman
guards marching back and forth in front of it. Soon we noticed three women
walking slowly from the south toward the tomb. It was so quiet you could hear a
Suddenly, there was an explosion. It startled everyone. Smoke
filled the air. You could hear a rumbling sound, perhaps the beating of hidden
drums, designed to simulate an earthquake.
As the smoke drifted away an angel, in
dazzling white, appeared. With one hand the angel easily rolled the stone away
from the tomb. The frightened guards fell to the ground as though they had died.
The women resumed walking toward the
tomb but were soon amazed when the angel began speaking to them. They could
hardly believe what the angel said.
“Do not be afraid; I know why you are
here,” the angel said. “You are seeking Jesus who was crucified, but he is not
here. He is risen, as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go
quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and he will
meet them in
The women took a quick look inside the
empty tomb and left in a hurry. They were afraid but filled with joy to know
that Jesus was alive. They were actually running from the tomb when suddenly
Jesus appeared! Shocked once again, they fell down before him and began to
Evidently Jesus wanted the women to be
certain that he had been raised from the dead. He repeated the message of the
angel, first calming their fear, then sending them on their way to tell the
disciples that he would meet them in
This was the message of the Easter
drama in Crampton Bowl. To a small boy, the resurrection seemed incredible, but
I believed it. I had no reason to doubt it. Years later I went through a time
of questioning. Perhaps, as some have said, the resurrection story is a myth.
No dead man could come back to life. I wondered.
I concluded that it is impossible to
explain the Christian movement unless Jesus really was raised from the dead. Could
a lie about the resurrection be perpetuated for two thousand years? Could the
early disciples have stolen his body from the tomb, while the guards were
sleeping, and then convinced hundreds of people that Jesus was alive? Saying
that it was so surely would not convince anyone.
Yet the apostles were not only
convinced that Jesus was alive; they were willing to suffer and die for this
new faith. The evidence is overwhelming that
most early Christians were also willing to be martyred rather than renounce
their belief in the resurrection of Jesus. Would anyone be willing to die in
defense of a lie?
The more I pondered the matter, the more clearly I saw that
I had no faith to proclaim unless the resurrection was true. That Christ was
raised from the dead by the power of God is the lynchpin of Christianity. So I chose to believe the resurrection with
all my heart. I am convinced that the resurrection is the great deed of God in
history. If Jesus could conquer fear, death, and hell, then his followers can
have this victory. I claimed it for myself and have never looked back.
Truth is, if one does not believe in
the resurrection, there is pitifully little else in Christian faith that makes
sense. If Jesus had not been raised from the dead, then Peter’s letters would
be a pack of lies. Had Jesus not been resurrected, we would have never heard of
the Apostle Paul, who wrote a great portion of the New Testament. We would not
even have a New Testament had not the early disciples believed Jesus was raised
from the dead.
Some people say it does not matter
whether Jesus was resurrected or not. His great moral teachings are what
matters; his spirit lives on, like that of Abraham Lincoln. Such thinking is
hogwash. Jesus believed that by dying on the cross as the Passover Lamb of God
all people could receive forgiveness of sins and the gift of eternal life. Can
one value anything else he taught if this teaching is a grand hoax? I think
Today, the good Lord willing, I will get
up at 5 a.m. and go with my wife to hear our son Tim preach in a sunrise
service in his church, Mulder Memorial United Methodist near Wetumpka. Then I
will hurry to St. James United Methodist in Montgomery where I will preach in
two powerful Easter services. I will tremble as we sing “Up from the grave He
Glory! Hallelujah! Easter! What a
great day for the people of God! + + +