Today, about 2,000 years ago, a man named Jesus was nailed to a cross and died. Or rather, that sentence should read “people in Jerusalem nailed a man named Jesus to a cross from which Jesus’ body hung till he died.” It was not a passive act. It was a very active act on the part of all involved.
It does not matter whether you believe this act happened or not. The fact that it did is of every consequence, a odd but intentional phrasing. Very few people in the world, even skeptics and atheists, reject the historicity of Jesus. But, though billions accept it, many reject what happened next. The resurrection of Jesus, however, and this Easter weekend on which we commemorate it, is the most important weekend in human history. It shaped not only Western Civilization, but continues to having a lasting impact around the world.
Within a decade in China, roughly one-third of its citizens will identify as Christian. As North America and Europe become more secular, South America, Africa and Asia move toward the cross. Those continents now send missionaries to Europe and North America.
The resurrection of Jesus lingers in much of what we do and the Christian faith that arose with him from the grave has been of monumental importance to human history over the last 2,000 years. Many would argue that it has not been good, but I would argue that we must distinguish between the advance of Christ and the advance of sin in men with Christian rhetoric.
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Certainly many have used Christ’s name for ill and to justify monstrous acts. But that is not the same as the incursion of the Gospel into the dark crevices and shadows of life. William Wilberforce’s faith in Christ drove him to work for years to eradicate not just slavery in Britain, but to compel usage of the British Navy to shut down the slave trade.
Some of the original humanitarian missions into Asia and Africa were largely due to the zeal of Christian missionaries to advance Christ’s Kingdom. After the fall of the Roman Empire, Christian monasteries were preserves of ideas and knowledge through the Dark Ages. Popes and Christian patrons funded and fostered the arts, sciences and humanities.
All of this came through the greatest act of sovereign grace ever displayed in the universe -- one man died so that all of us could live.
Today we remember that 2,000 years ago a man came forward claiming to be the Messiah. Many others had also claimed to be the Messiah both before and after this guy. But for some reason, this is the only guy who ever caught on. While Christians celebrate Jesus’ death and resurrection, many secularists will claim him just a madman or a philosopher. That seems to be the “reasonable secularist’s” approach -- Christ is no Messiah, just a philosopher whose words and deeds we should embrace.
Christ, himself, said he is “the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through” him. His own words do not give us the luxury of accepting him as just a philosopher. He is either our Risen Lord or a madman.
And if the Christ whose sacrifice we remember this weekend was a madman, he’d be the only madman in history to have 2,000 years of lasting impact on our lives and culture. Of course it could be that because He died, we live.
Erick Erickson, a former member of the Macon City Council, is a Fox News contributor and radio talk show host in Atlanta.