Christians around the world will celebrate Easter this weekend (some churches like mine have services on Saturday to accommodate the crowds). The numbers of people attending church will swell in most every church and in some churches the numbers will be incredibly impressive. Critics see this as an annual anomaly, leaders see it as an annual opportunity. Easter is the time to celebrate Jesus and proclaim his resurrection victory, the foundation of the Christian faith. As the apostle Paul said in I Corinthians 15:14, "If Christ wasn't raised to life, our message is worthless and so is your faith."
Jesus was the most important person who ever lived. His life, death and resurrection literally changed the course of human history, experiencing the ultimate setback and the ultimate comeback. Jesus began his life miraculously, having been born of a virgin. Conceived by the Holy Spirit through the Virgin Mary, Jesus was literally both God and man. Jesus was unique, which was recognized by the religious scholars of his day when he was still young. Jesus launched his public ministry when he was thirty years old. He overcame the temptation of the Devil in the desert, proclaimed himself to be the Messiah, and gathered together a team of 12 disciples. He traveled throughout his region performing good works, healing the sick, and teaching God's message. He performed many miracles and created quite a stir among many religious leaders. Jesus predicted that the kingdom of God would come, but it would not be an earthly kingdom or a political revolution. Rather, Jesus would become the leader of each individual's life and establish his teachings as the way to live. Many chose to become Jesus' followers, and he gained great popularity with the general public.
Jesus lived a perfect, sinless life. However, the religious leaders of his day viewed him with suspicion and disdain and convinced one of Jesus' disciples to betray him. Jesus was then arrested and brought before the Roman authorities for punishment. Pilate the Roman governor did not think Jesus was guilty of anything but gave them a choice. They demanded that Jesus receive the death sentence. Jesus was guilty of no crime and had done incredible good, yet he was crucified, the most painful and horrendous death in the ancient world. His hands and feet were nailed to intersecting wooden beams, which were then lifted up and placed in the ground. In order for Jesus to breathe, he had to lift himself up, tearing His flesh in the process. Every moment on the cross, Jesus was in excruciating pain and was mocked, ridiculed and spat upon. Jesus also had a crown of thorns placed on His head and His side was pierced with a sword. Finally, Jesus died. There can be no greater setback than to be cruelly and mercilessly killed.
Jesus died on a Friday. Some women went to the cave where he was buried on Sunday morning and found the stone in the front of the tomb rolled away. Jesus was not dead but had risen from the grave. The greatest comeback in history had taken place! A dead person had come back to life; death had been beaten.
From the ultimate setback of death, Jesus came back to life and proved his victory over death. If you doubt the veracity of Jesus' resurrection, consider some evidence: In ancient courts, a woman could not be a witness; only the testimony of a man was accepted. Yet the first witnesses of Jesus' resurrection were women. If it were just a fanciful story, why would the Gospel writers have used women as witnesses? The resurrection cannot be a myth because it does not fit the characteristics of a myth. Myths are developed over time, but the story of Jesus' resurrection was written within 20 years of its happening and was known orally many years before that. Also, Christians never venerated the site of Jesus' death. Rather, they focused on the tomb where he had arisen. In addition, there were approximately 500 witnesses who saw Jesus after his resurrection. How could that many people all have the story wrong?
The reality is, Jesus was raised from the dead, and because of Jesus' victory over death and sin you can experience forgiveness and eternal life. You can overcome any setback through the strength God gives. You can make any comeback with the power that is available through Jesus Christ. The setback of mistakes, failures and sins can be forgiven. The comeback of inner peace, purpose and meaning in life is now available. We can live our lives in a personal relationship with God, experience his plan for our lives and spend eternity in heaven with him after this life is over. Thanks to Jesus, life's greatest comeback is available to you any time you choose.