(37) the third day he rose again from the dead

Death had taken all men throughout the ages. Around every living person the shadow of death always circled like that of a hovering vulture. Eventually every man would die and stay dead. It didn’t matter whether or not he was bad or good, ignorant or skilled and learned, ugly or handsome, hated or beloved, ordinary or famous and creative. The great destroyer devoured all men alike and dragged them down toward nothingness. Men said, Why make an effort to be good? Why bother to learn? Why try to build things up? Life was meaningless and futile. If there are any gods, they must either be weaklings or cruel monsters. Men sometimes dreamed of a life after death. They wanted to keep on living as they were at their prime or better. They worked up reasons for believing that it would be so, but those few shaky arguments were only mere straws of hope to be clutched at by desperate, dying waifs. As Ear as anyone could see for sure, the world was mostly an immense graveyard. Every news story ended with the same old obituary notice.

I am now about to write once again the most important words that have ever been written by anyone anywhere anytime. I’d like to write them in mountain-sized letters of blazing ink right across the heavens. I’d like to finish with an exclamation mark that would sound like an H-bomb going off and shoot up like a space rocket. Christ is risen! The discovery of America, the invention of electronic voices, space flights and atomic power belong in the back pages of the human story when rated with the best news ever: death has been conquered!

The news that Christ had risen burst into this deathly world like a flaming comet. Here was a headline to end all headlines. The universal reign of death had been broken at last by a remarkable man named Jesus. This man had died—really died—his enemies had seen to that. But he had come back from the realm of the dead to the land of the living. He had moved among his former friends for some weeks. Then he had somehow moved beyond them into a higher kind of existence. Jesus’ conquest of death was most significant, for what has happened in the case of one man can possibly happen again with others. Out of the news of this victory the most glorious hope was born, and a faith that has transformed human living.

When I get discouraged because the work I‘m trying to do in the name of the Lord hasn’t yet blossomed, I have to take a new hold on my faith. Eventually God will have his way. Maybe not today or tomorrow, but the day will come nevertheless. After the dark hours there will come the third day! After the silence, after the suspense, on the third day, God will honor his word. Christ’s life will stir where I have buried it in other men’s hearts. The resurrection will go on and on until all that God values in this world has been gathered safely in.