Besides its profound spiritual-religious significance, is there also an historical-political significance to the cross and resurrection of Jesus the Christ?
The enmity of this world toward God and spiritual truth dates back to the beginning of recorded history. We can read about it in the Bible’s Old Testament story of the Tower of Babel. In this story men built a tower that “reached up to heaven.” Why? To challenge God for earthly supremacy; to show God that the earth belongs to man, and to bring God down. But the crowning act of man’s rebellion against God was the crucifixion of Jesus the Christ. In that murderous act the spirit of this world gloried shamelessly in its anti-God stance. “We have done it!” men were, in essence, proclaiming. “Finally we have dealt God a crushing blow; we have effectually stomped spiritual truth into the ground.” That is why those two days in which Jesus’ body lay in a tomb just outside the city of Jerusalem were the darkest days in the history of our world. During those days men were finally able to claim victory over God. At last man had ascended into heaven and brought God down. At last the earth belonged to man alone. There would never again be a God to reckon with; no more spiritual truth to dog’s men’s steps, and no more spiritual impulse at work inside of men. Truly, the light of the world had been snuffed out.
For many human beings alive at that time this was a cause of celebration. It was, after all, what we as a collective entity have always wanted—to get rid of and permanently silence the voice of God conscience; to be free of the constraints of universal created law; to break the yoke of guilt and be our own masters, answering to no one.
But for the poor and needy among both men and women (a condition that must be spiritually discerned) those two days were the hardest days in their already terrifically hard lives. To feel that the light of God had been snuffed out and to watch the world of men gloat over it was more than they could bear. To paraphrase a modern-day Hebrew colloquial expression: “It broke them.” It was too much. The curtain of darkness and despair had fallen. This world of men with its vain deceptive empty luster was now the only “real world.” Its reality was the only true reality.
Early in the morning on the third day while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb, though she did not know exactly why or what she expected to find there. As she walked she wept bitterly. Upon arriving at the tomb, she saw that the stone had been rolled back, but it meant nothing to her in her distressed state. She just stood there and cried.
Then two angels seated near the entrance to the tomb appeared to her. “Woman, why are you crying?” they asked her.
And out of the deep well of bitterness in her heart she answered, “They have taken my Lord away, and I don’t know where they have put him.” In other words, they have had their way with the Christ of God. They have hung him on a cross and have banished him from the earth forever.
At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was him. How could this be? She had been very close to Jesus before he was crucified. How could she not even recognize him now? The answer is that the post-resurrection Jesus was different. In fact, he was no longer Jesus at all. He was the risen Christ. The man Jesus was dead and gone, but the Christ Spirit of God that had been moving so powerfully in him could not be killed.
As Mary considered these things, the first rays of dawn began to light up the eastern horizon. The darkest night in human history had passed and was giving way to a new dawn of unlooked for hope.
The status quo authorities moved swiftly to try to give an explanation for the empty tomb. They claimed that Jesus’ disciples must have stolen away his body during the night, while the men who were guarding the tomb slept. But even as they did this they could feel their great victory being snatched from them. Just as had happened with the Tower of Babel, the arrogant men of this world were once again stymied by the silent power of God and were once again given over to confounding and confusion. In the end it was God who once again gained the victory.
After the empty tomb was discovered, there was only one course of action for these desperate hardened men. They knew that God had gained the victory over them, but through deceit and guile they could perhaps convince the people of the world that it was them, not God, who had prevailed. Thus began the most extensive and deceptive war of propaganda that has ever been waged in the human scene. And that is where we still stand to this very day.
What is the nature of this propaganda? It is simply that despite mounds of evidence to the contrary, Jesus’ death on the cross put an end to him, which, in turn, put an end to the “God problem” once and for all. It freed men from the constraints of heaven, just as it was intended to do. And it finally positioned man to be the sole ruler of the earth. As for the resurrection: it never happened.
It does not take a keen eye to discern that this propaganda campaign has been highly successful. The condition of our world testifies loudly to this fact. For two thousand years the people of our world have been believing the lie that God is dead. This is why hopelessness still reigns in our world; confusion and distress still abound, and the poor and needy still weep in the night. True, some people have prospered and profited during this sad age. But these are not really representative of the human race. They have always been an exclusive group—a small but influential minority. Meanwhile, the rest of the human race languishes at their expense.
What can be done for us? Well, as with any lie, the antidote is the truth. And in the case of a very big lie, it takes a very large dose of truth to vanquish it. That is precisely what the Easter story is. It is a very large dose of truth. But be careful here. This truth is not just about a man named Jesus; it is about all of us. If we misinterpret it, it loses its power. How is it about us? Because we all need desperately to lay hold of the truth that, despite the relentless efforts of the status quo to build a tower up to heaven and bring God down, they have never actually succeeded at doing so, not then and not now. All they have succeeded in doing is pulling the wool over our eyes.
God did not die two thousand years ago, and God is very much alive today. The earth still belongs to God, and it always has. Lay hold of these truths my friends. Take them into your hearts and let them work like leaven therein. GOD CANNOT DIE! That is the message of Easter.
As soon as we can fully embrace this truth, the age-long tyrannical reign of the status quo hierarchy of man will crumble and end. Hopelessness will give way to glory. Weeping will give way to joy. The morning of the third day will dawn, and the dark days in which humankind lost sight of their God will be no more.