Summary: Words are powerful. Words can change a person's life. Words can change history. Consider how three words on Easter morning, "He has risen!" have changed human history - have changed your history!
“Ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country.” John F. Kennedy – January 20, 1961
“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed…” – Dr. Martin Luther King – August 28, 1963
“Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” – Ronald Reagan – June 12, 1987
“I can hear you! The rest of the world hears you! And the people – and the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon.” – George W. Bush – September 14, 2001
Heard those words before? They were just a few words, but they were memorable. Why? Because of the circumstances that surrounded them, and because of the impact they had. Three words spoken 2000 years ago spoken to less than a handful of people changed the course of all of history. At a cemetery outside of Jerusalem, an angel announced, “He has risen!” With those three words the course of human history was changed forever. With those few words, YOUR history has been changed. Now maybe you think that I’m overstating it a bit, but I don’t think that you can possibly begin to overstate the impact of those three words, “He has risen!” to fully appreciate the impact of those words we need to understand the circumstances that surround them.
It was Sunday morning. Some women who had been followers of Jesus went to a cemetery outside of Jerusalem. They went to the place where they had seen Jesus’ lifeless body placed in a tomb three days earlier, on Friday evening. A large stone had been rolled in front of the tomb and as added security, Roman soldiers were stationed there to prevent anyone from rolling the stone away and stealing Jesus’ body. Friday night had passed without incident. All day Saturday had passed, nothing. Saturday night had passed. Still nothing.
Then early on Sunday morning as the sun began to rise, the earth began to shake. The Bible tells us this, “There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow” (Matthew 28:2,3). An angel was probably the last thing that these women ever expected to find when they went to that cemetery on Sunday morning. Their purpose for going there was simple. They had hoped to complete the burial process. But when they arrived they received some rather unexpected news, “He has risen!”
This was not what they expected. You don’t go to a cemetery to see IF the person is still there. You go because you KNOW the person is still there. This contradicted everything they had ever known and experienced. This is usually where a person’s story comes to an end. But Jesus’ story continued AFTER his death. He had died, but now he lives! What amazing news for those women received! How wonderful to think that their friend and teacher was not dead, but was alive! But it was so much more than that they were getting back someone they cared about. This was not only for them. This was an event that changes all of history, that changes your history.
You see, there was another event that drastically changed the course of all human history. It takes us back to the beginning of time. God created a world intending for it to be a place that would reflect his glory, where everything and everyone would work together in peace and harmony. He made two human beings from which every human has come, with the intent that those people and everyone after them would live with him forever in this glorious place. But those first two people decided that God was not worthy of their trust, that he was in some way withholding his goodness from them. They doubted God and they disobeyed God. And when they disobeyed God in an instant history was changed. That perfect world and perfect relationship that God wanted to have with all people was ruined. Like smudgy little fingerprints left on a once clean window, sin now leaves its dirty fingerprints on every aspect of our lives. We see the fingerprints of sin in our hearts. We see it in the jealousy and greed that continually compares what we have to what others have been given. We see those fingerprints in broken relationships and promises that leave lives shattered and hearts broken. We see those fingerprints in our bodies as a few rogue cells or disrupted DNA cause disease and suffering. We see those fingerprints throughout the history of the world. One group of people oppresses another resulting in violence, war and genocide. School shootings, abused children and neglected elderly. People can try to re-write history, try to “clean it up,” but that’s like trying to clean the fingerprints off a window using your bare hand. It doesn’t help. It only creates more fingerprints.