Date: April 7, 2004
From: Jerry Falwell
Many years ago, the great theologian Oswald Chambers stated, "All heaven is interested in the cross of Christ, all hell terribly afraid of it, while men are the only beings who more or less ignore its meaning."
To some degree, that will always be the case. But this Easter, due in large part to Mel Gibson's film "The Passion of the Christ," a number of Americans are taking a more exhaustive look--many no doubt for the first time--at the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and considering what that most significant event in history means to them.
With that in mind, I would like to briefly examine the context of Jesus' death and his glorious revivification.
In recent weeks, Gibson's film has spawned scores of editorials from a host of perspectives on the death and resurrection of Jesus. I have read a number of editorials that have suggested that He was executed or the subject of a political assassination. But it is important to note that this is far from actuality. In fact, in the Bible, a parallel was drawn between Jesus and a sacrificial lamb, which is seen as the embodiment of innocence.
Indeed, Christ came to earth to voluntarily lay down His life, much in the same way spotless lambs were utilized as sacrifices in Old Testament times. This is the remarkable beauty that lies beneath the sheer horror of the cross. During His brief life, Jesus was fully aware that there would be a time when He would have to reject His heavenly power in order to readily lay down His life and die one of the most ghastly forms of deaths.
Why did He do this? The answer is simple. He did it for you. He did it for me.
By voluntarily laying down His life and three days later triumphing over the grave, Jesus accomplished something unspeakably wonderful - He provided the means for us to achieve eternal life with Him.
This is not popular speech these days. In fact, it is often considered "hate speech" to suggest that Jesus provided the only way to heaven. In this age of "inclusiveness" and "diversity," we are often urged to accept bits and pieces of all religions and tenets in order to create a hybrid system of beliefs designed to create an apparent utopian society. While such a system may occasionally offer momentary periods of satisfaction, it ultimately proffers nothing but confusion and uncertainty.
If we are to believe the Bible to be the Word of God, we must subsequently believe that Jesus provided the only avenue to heaven through His death and astonishing resurrection.
But with all due respect to O'Reilly, that view unequivocally counters what Jesus asserted - that He is the only way to eternal life with God.
"I am the resurrection, and the life. He who believes in me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die," Jesus stated in John 11:25, 26 (NKJV).
I often imagine that first Easter morning. While Mary and Mary Magdalene were on their way to visit the tomb of Jesus an angel rolled back the great stone that covered the entrance to it, creating an earthquake that frightened all those who were there. After the earth stopped shaking, the women could see that Jesus was not there. And they immediately ran to tell the disciples what they had seen.
"The stone was rolled away from the door, not to permit Christ to come out, but to enable the disciples to go in," Peter Marshall wrote. And indeed it was rolled away so that we can all look in to see the empty tomb even today.
On March 28, 1869, C.H. Spurgeon, preaching at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington, drew a parallel between that stone and the figurative stone that blocks many from seeing the truth of the resurrection: "In man's path of happiness lies a huge rock, which completely blocks up the road."
I encourage all readers today to look past whatever rock blocks your view of the resurrection. Christ died for all and salvation is readily available for all who believe.