Who bear the deepest
misery inside? Who know the greatest emptiness?
Those who claim that Jesus lied and choose a life that's meaningless.
Each Good Friday I leave the busy-ness of life and seek a place where I can reflect on Jesus, His death, the resurrection, and what it all means. Walking through forests, crossing cascading streams, and strolling along ridges have a way of easing my mind and allowing me to hear God more clearly. This year my wife, daughter and I hiked an 8.2 mile loop and it was an absolutely beautiful day. Deep blue sky, occasional breeze, and fresh spring air. We followed Slaughter Creek past Slaughter Mountain and up to Slaughter Gap, then climbed to the top of Blood Mountain. Notice a theme there?
According to legend, a few hundred years ago the mountain was claimed as sacred ground by two competing and warring tribes, the Cherokee and the Creek. Each wanted the land only for themselves, resulting in a terrible battle that raged on for days. Thousands upon thousands of warriors were slaughtered by each side, so many it was said the mountain was covered with their blood.
I remembered that old tale as we passed through the Gap and made our way up Blood Mountain. I imagined Cherokee and Creek running along these same trails, fighting and killing as they struggled to drive away the other. I could almost sense the pride they must have carried in their hearts. As I considered all this, I thought, What a meaningless effort it has turned out to be.
Neither Cherokee nor Creek live there any more. They make no claim on the mountain. There's no effort to save the memory of their great battle. If not for bits of evidence, no one would know it had occurred at all. Most have forgotten while few still care if the old stories are true. And for all those warriors who had faith in their god and their cause, time has shown they died in vain. Their effort was ultimately useless.
Then I thought of Easter. Do we recall the great battle that took place two thousand years ago? Do we know what it was about? Do we believe how it ended? The Apostle Paul once wrote, ..what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve...to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time...to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all He appeared to me also... 1 Corinthians 15:3-8
In this battle, Jesus died, was buried, was raised on the third day, and was alive again, all witnessed by hundreds. Accounts were written and preserved. By accepted standards, that was more than enough proof, yet still some did not believe. Even today many argue that Jesus never died and that it was a hoax, though they have no evidence to support their claim. In the legal profession such people are "false witnesses". They desperately create a story to give their own lives meaning. Paul wrote about that, too.
If Christ was not raised...his preaching was useless and he was a false witness about God. If Christ was not raised...all faith in Him has been futile and those who have died believing in Him have done so in vain and are lost forever. If Christ was not raised...we are to be pitied more than all others because we have believed a lie. ( See verses 14-19) Paul used the word kenos, meaning empty, to describe a void where there is absolutely nothing. So if Jesus was not raised, Paul says all his effort, our faith...even our lives...have been for nothing.
But the fact is that Christ has been raised from the dead. (verse 20) Not a thought, not a wish, but a fact. How did Paul know? Because he had proof, and so do we. We can see Him work in our lives and the lives of others. We can feel His presence and hear His voice. And with Christ as Lord, teacher and friend, we become a miracle the world cannot comprehend...lives with new meaning and examples for those who reject the proof, who refuse to believe...who have chosen a life that is meaningless.
Driving home we passed church after church along mountain roads, country lanes, and city streets. Every single one had signs proclaiming the joy that we know. And I have to admit, each time it stirred my heart.
HE LIVES !!!!!!!
Take care and be God's,
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