Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News
April 1, 2012
Why Easter is the most inspiring day of the year
I love Christmas and the Fourth of July. They are both special days. But for me the most inspiring day of the year is Easter Sunday. Every spring I can hardly wait for Easter.
My love for Easter goes back to my childhood. Every Easter Daddy and Mama would wake us very early, get my siblings and me dressed and drive from Elmore County into Montgomery. We would hurry into Crampton Bowl, sit on those cold concrete seats and wait for the drama to begin.
On the western hillside was the sealed tomb. “Roman” guards marched back and forth in front of it. Soon several women began walking slowly from the south toward the tomb. Suddenly we were startled by an explosion followed by a rumbling sound signifying an earthquake.
When the smoke cleared an angel, in dazzling white, appeared and rolled the stone away from the tomb. The frightened guards fell to the ground as though they were dead.
The women resumed walking toward the tomb. Once there they could hardly believe the angel’s shocking announcement that Jesus was alive. They had come expecting to anoint the dead body of Jesus with sweet-smelling spices.
“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
After taking a quick look inside the empty tomb the women left in a hurry. The Bible tells us that they were afraid but filled with joy that Jesus was alive. But another surprise awaited them. As they were running from the tomb Jesus suddenly appeared! Now amazed even more than before, they fell at the feet of Jesus to worship him.
Evidently Jesus wanted the women to be convinced that he had been raised from the dead. After calming their fear and repeating the message of the angel, Jesus sent them on their way, asking them to tell the disciples that he would meet them in Galilee.
This, years ago, was the message of Easter heard by my family in Crampton Bowl. It impressed me deeply. As a small boy it never occurred to me to doubt the resurrection of Jesus. Years later I would go through a time of questioning. Some theologians said the resurrection was a myth. A dead man could not be raised from the dead. I wondered and doubted.
But my doubts soon gave way to the conviction that the resurrection had to be true. There was no other way to explain the expansion of Christianity or the writing of the New Testament. Surely a lie about the resurrection could not be perpetuated for two thousand years.
It seems preposterous to suppose that the early disciples could have stolen his body from the tomb, while the guards were sleeping, and then convinced hundreds of people that Jesus was still alive. How could a few people persuade others that a dead man was alive? Saying it was so would not convince anyone.
If, however, those women and men were willing to die for such a conviction, then surely the resurrection was not a myth. The historical evidence, both outside and inside the Bible, is that they were willing to die rather than renounce their belief in the resurrection. This settled the matter for me. The resurrection then is the great deed of God in the history of the world. I believed it and have never looked back.
Belief in the resurrection is pivotal. If you do not believe in the resurrection little else in Christian faith makes sense. If Jesus was not raised from the dead then Peter’s letters are worthless. Had Jesus not been resurrected we would have never heard of the Apostle Paul who wrote a great portion of the New Testament. There would not be a New Testament had not the early disciples believed the dead Jesus was raised from the dead by the power of God.
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 nonsense. Jesus believed that by dying on the cross as the Passover Lamb of God all people could receive the gift of eternal life through his shed blood and resurrection. Can you value anything else he taught if this teaching was a hoax? Surely not!
Next Sunday is Easter. It will be a great day to slip into some church and celebrate the truth that because of the resurrection of Jesus, the grave is not the end. There is life beyond the grave for all who believe in Jesus and embrace him as Lord of life. Slip into my church and you will hear me shout hallelujah more than once. I will be rejoicing that because Jesus lives, I will live to see my loved ones again and enjoy the place he has prepared for me in the Father’s House. That is worth celebrating!
Thank God for Easter! Hallelujah! + + +