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On your Mark


He is risen!

Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! (Luke 24:5,6, NIV)

The late William Sangster, an English Methodist minister, became seriously ill with progressive muscular atrophy two years before his death. For those final years he endured suffering with courage. On Easter morning, unable to walk or speak, he wrote to his daughter, “It is terrible to wake up on Easter morning and have no voice with which to shout, ‘He is risen!’ But it would be still more terrible to have a voice and not want to shout.”

On this Easter Day, I want to shout! Don’t you?

Our society increasingly regards all religions as equal and claims many paths to God.

Not so!

All other past religious leaders are dead. We know where they are buried. No faith except the Christian faith asserts its leader rose from the dead. His resurrection vindicates His teaching and all His claims.

We do not gather to celebrate anyone else’s resurrection. When a family member or a friend dies, we have a memorial service and either bury their body or scatter their ashes. We do not expect to see them again in this life.

Even the great theologian Karl Barth said, “One day a company of men will proceed out to a churchyard and lower a coffin, and everyone will go home; but one will not come back and that will be me.”

Popular writer and speaker Tony Campolo expanded on Barth by saying, “A company of men will proceed out to a churchyard and lower a coffin, and then everyone will come back to the church and eat a chicken dinner.”

The French philosopher Voltaire, who had no love at all for Christianity, is reported to have paid a grudging compliment to the faith when he once said, “Gentlemen, it would be easy to start a new religion to compete with Christianity. All the founder would have to do is die and then be raised from the dead.”

Rising from the dead is no easy task! The Greek philosopher Plotinus reported working all day long with a cadaver and coming to the conclusion at the end of the day that a corpse could not stand up on its own.

But Jesus rose again from the dead!

Here then is the distinctive of the Christian faith. One Person — and one Person only — from all of humanity died and then rose again to remain eternally alive. No wonder the first disciples were overjoyed when they first saw the Lord! It is a joy that reaches us today!

But the good news does not end with Jesus’ resurrection. It continues through the promise of our own future: “If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. … And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you” (Romans 6:5; 8:11).

In 1751, Thomas Gray wrote a poem that became famous in the English language, “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard.” The best known line from that poem says, “The paths of glory lead but to the grave.”

Not so with Jesus! Not so with those who believe in Him! For Him … for us … the paths of glory lead FROM the grave! He is risen! He is risen indeed!

A prayer of response
Lord Jesus, You have overwhelmed me with joy. There’s no greater news than that You have conquered death — not only for yourself, but also for all who trust in You! Thank You for resurrection life!


GEORGE O. WOOD is general superintendent of the Assemblies of God.

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