It is little wonder that persons who do not regularly go to worship do so on Easter Sunday. In the annals of Christendom what happened on that day is comparable to the sun rising in the west. It is worth commemorating and celebrating. It is the springtime of the human soul.
Of the event acclaimed on this day British historian, John Singleton Copley, noted, “I know pretty well what evidence is, and I tell you, such evidence as that for the resurrection has never broken down yet.”
The Supreme Court of the era, the Sanhedrin, appointed a brilliant young attorney from their ranks to investigate rumors of the resurrection. His name was Paul. They provided him with authority to arrest, interrogate, and even use capital or corporal punishment to get evidence to refute the accounts. He did more research on the resurrection than anyone of the age. He began as a prosecutor and became a defender of the faith. The evidence he uncovered changed his mind.
In the court of Festus with King Agrippa present Paul said of the resurrection, “It was not some secret corner in which all these things happened.” No one in the prosecutor’s court disputed the claims. That would have been the moment for evidence contradicting the resurrection to have been presented. None was.
Within days of the resurrection, at the risk of his life, Peter publically declared its profound meaning on the Temple steps, and 3,000 who were present at the time of the resurrection professed belief in it and evidenced their conviction by being baptized.
Every bough that blossoms, every seed that sprouts, each spore that germinates shouts there is a resurrection. Such elevated thought keeps hope alive and revives the faint spirit.
Enabled and emboldened by this thought and armed with this hope persons are motivated to high and honorable conduct. Betrayed often, dishonored frequently, disgraced recurrently, and beaten ruthlessly, no disciple recanted. Surely no one would endure that regarding something in which they did not believe. Spiritual, emotional, and psychological life has been breathed into many stifled souls over the years by the presence of Christ on the far bank of death.
Many devotees of the resurrected Christ find in the event celebrated on Easter reason to live with hope, optimism, confidence, and enthusiasm. It frames their lifestyle. It is the warp on which life is woven.
The highly acclaimed British historian, Arnold Toynbee, in his monumental twelve-volume analysis of the rise and fall of civilizations entitled, The Study of History, devotes a chapter to saviors. He groups them in four categories:
The savior with a scepter ---- the political savior.
The savior with a book ---- the philosopher savior.
The savior with a sword ---- the militant savior.
The man-god or god-man savior ---- those of Greek mythology.
After noting all of these demigods ultimately surrender to death this imminent scholar concludes:
“When the last civilization comes to the river of death, there on the other side filling the whole horizon with Himself will be the Savior.”
Here is further good news. A napkin was always put over the face of a deceased. When the disciples Peter and John came to the tomb that morning they found it folded in its place. In that era when a king finished dining if he was not coming back he left his napkin crumpled. He left it folded as if he was coming back. Jesus’ folded napkin left His followers a subtle message.