A SICK WORLD seemed only to grow sicker.
Even a cursory reading of the Old Testament reveals that all the advantages that God had heaped on the children of Israel were soon voided by the actions of His people.
It ended right then.
Jesus could not
be contained by a
grave, could not be
chained by death,
His feet could
not be halted by
some puny stone.
The beautiful Garden of Eden was abandoned because of our first parents’ sin. The verdant earth was washed away in a massive flood, because it had become so wretched. Even in Noah’s family, betrayal and deception were hallmarks of the ones who were the ancestors of Christ. The miraculous deliverance of the Jewish nation from the clutches of their Egyptian captors was too soon negated by the idolatry of a people bent on seeking a way around the one true God.
King Saul was brought down by hatred and paranoia. David’s sweet songs were augmented by songs of lament, as he cheated with another man’s wife, and his own son sought to kill him. Solomon’s wisdom and wealth did not prevent him from being a spiritual pauper at the end of his life. On and on it goes.
The prophets warned that God would walk away from the people who professed to worship Him. He told them to keep their meaningless sacrifices (Malachi 1:6-14); that because of their sinfulness, He would divorce them (Jeremiah 3:8). At least there were still a few faithful in Israel. The witness of all the prophets is that the nations in Israel’s world were even more worthy of condemnation.
God was not taken by surprise. He knew what sin would do and where it led. His plan before the world was even formed (1 Peter 1:18-21) was that Jesus would come and live among us as one of us. His unique nature of being fully God and fully man meant that He was something more than sin could tolerate. The sad story leading up to Easter is that in the end, He was abandoned by those who professed to follow Him, largely forgotten by those He had healed, railroaded in a ridiculously rigged court and sentenced to die with the apathetic acquiescence of the Roman government.
Why did God allow it?
There was no way to without going through. The salvation of the human race was dependent upon entering in the worst of it, bearing its venom and loathing and wretchedness and filth and desolation. The world was worse than a lake of sewage or a stadium full of rotting corpses. Here He had to come. Here He had to stand. Here He had to walk. Here He had to die. Here He had to triumph.
Where did that triumph come? Locked away in a lifeless body and encased in a stone-cold tomb, it seemed that any light that He might have had was forever extinguished. Darkness smothered light. Death snuffed out life.
So it seemed.
But the day of Resurrection arrived. The annihilation of hope was reversed, as life stabbed death to death. The realms of Heaven and soon the footsteps of men carried the news that this long, cold, horrid night of despair ended. It ended right then. Jesus could not be contained by a grave, could not be chained by death, His feet could not be halted by some puny stone.
What was it like for Jesus—to know that what the divine Trinity had intended, had worked toward, had sacrificed for was in that moment of human history the eternal truth of the ages? Did Jesus run out of the grave? Did He leap and shout the moment His lungs filled with air again, His abused body surging with holy life? When He was ready to share this good news, He didn’t even bother to use the door when He showed Himself to the disciples (John 20:19,20). “‘O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?’ For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:55-57).
That scene is recreated each time a heart opens itself to receive Christ as Savior. The joy of the lost coming home causes all Heaven to erupt in celebration (Luke 15:7). If you have received Him as your Lord, your decision brought the party on. If you have not, receive the One who longs to receive you. The moment of your rebirth will not only set you on a new life, but you will be able to join the song of Heaven’s rejoicing.
Lt. Colonel Allen Satterlee is Editor in Chief and National Literary Secretary