Over a 20 times now since 1986, I have been to Jerusalem and visited the Garden Tomb where many scholars believe the body of Jesus was buried and from where He rose again on that first Easter Sunday morning. It is awe inspiring to walk into that empty tomb and see the place where Jesus Christ once lay dead.
John Van Der Hoeven tells how that one day, a young man who came to the Garden Tomb and listened as the tour guide was explaining its significance. The guide started first with Skull Hill, (Golgotha) where Jesus had been crucified and died for the sins of the world. Then he led them to the tomb and stated that it was empty because Jesus had risen to life and now lives forevermore. The young man listened in amazement and then said, “Mister, if what you say is true, there should be singing and dancing at this site every day of the year!”
I agree. If Jesus rose from the dead as the scripture declares, there should be singing and dancing every day of the year! Or, at least, on Easter Sunday.
Ben Patterson, writing in Leadership magazine, tells how a number of years ago missionaries went to a primitive tribe in the jungles of East Asia and showed them the Jesus film. The Jesus film is a reenactment of the story of Christ as told in the four gospels of the Bible. Not only had these people never heard of Jesus, they had never even seen a motion picture before. The missionaries came in with portable generators and movie projectors and these primitive people were able to watch the entire life of Jesus.
As the movie began, the people were glued to the screen, amazed as they watched this Good Man feeding the hungry, healing the sick, caring for the needy and preaching the Gospel. But then the movie came to the last week of His life and in horror, they watched as this wonderful man was arrested, tried and condemned to die. When He was mocked, spat upon, had his beard pulled out and whipped, they became increasingly agitated. They stood up and began to shout at the cruel men on the screen, demanding that this outrage stop.
When nothing happened, they attacked the missionary running the projector. Perhaps he was responsible for this travesty of justice! He had to stop the film and explain to them that the story wasn’t over yet; that there was more. So, they settled back onto the ground, holding their emotions in tenous check.
Then came the crucifixion of Christ. Again, the people could not hold back. They began to weep and wail with such loud grief that once again the film had to be stopped. The missionary again tried to calm them, explaining that the story wasn’t over, that there was more. So they composed themselves and sat down to see what happened next.
Then came the resurrection. Pandemonium broke out this time but for a different reason. The gathering had spontaneously erupted into a party. The noise was now of jubilation and it was deafening. The people were dancing and slapping each other on the back. Christ had risen from the dead and that was good news! The missionary had to stop the projector again, but for a good reason: the ensuing celebration.
Easter is this Sunday. How excited and happy are you in anticipation of that event? Will you be dancing and slapping your friends on the back?
Or will you simply see it as an overdue long weekend for you? Will it be a chance, if the weather’s nice, to clean up the back yard? Go for a Sunday afternoon drive?
I hope you’ll be singing and dancing.