Moderator’s Easter Message: The Weekend That Changed The World

An Easter message from Free church Moderator Rev. Bob Akroyd.

A long time ago in a place far, far away, the course of human history was radically altered. An itinerant preacher, teacher and wonder-worker was arrested, tried, convicted and executed. Betrayal, miscarriage of justice and corruption are not uncommon. Suffering is endemic to the human condition. Good Friday was somehow different. This real-life drama was unique because the central character of the drama was unique. An unlikely commentator captured a startling contrast. During his second and final exile, Napoleon had time to think. He reflected on his aspirations compared with those of Jesus of Nazareth, 

"I marvel that whereas the ambitious dreams of myself, Caesar, and Alexander should have vanished into thin air, a Judean peasant—Jesus—should be able to stretch His hands across the centuries and control the destinies of men and nations." 

What accounted for this lasting impact? Why was Jesus so different? Napoleon continued, 

"Well then, I will tell you. Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne, and I myself have founded great empires; but upon what did these creations of our genius depend? Upon force. Jesus alone founded His empire upon love, and to this very day millions will die for Him. … I think I understand something of human nature; and I tell you, all these were men, and I am a man; none else is like Him: Jesus Christ was more than a man." 

Jesus was more than a man; he was God in the flesh. Jesus’ empire was different because he founded his empire on love. As Paul reflected on Good Friday, he came to the same conclusion, 

"You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:6 – 8) 

Why did Jesus Christ die? As Charles Wesley put it, ‘’Tis mystery all! Th ‘Immortal dies!’ The only explanation which Wesley gave was in the chorus of ‘And Can it Be,’ 

"Amazing love! how can it be That Thou, my God, should die for me!" 

Amazing can be an overused word. Wesley rightly described God’s love as ‘amazing.’ A generation later, another hymn writer, John Newton, accurately described God’s grace as amazing. 

Good Friday is amazing because Jesus is amazing. Jesus stands apart. That first Easter weekend distinguished Jesus from every other human being. The life he lived, the death he died, and his resurrection from the dead place Jesus in his own category. God became man and he died in order that we might live and live forever. 

Just as Jesus was unique, the faith which arose among the followers of Jesus was equally unique. Again, Napoleon captures these distinct contours, 

"Superficial minds see a resemblance between Christ and the founders of empires, and the gods of other religions, that resemblance does not exist. There is between Christianity and other religions, the distance of infinity." 

As we reflect with wonder, awe, and gratitude on those distant events, let us marvel upon the person of Jesus Christ and the work that he completed on our behalf. This is amazing love. 

Let me close by wishing a Happy Easter to you and your family. 

Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed. 

Your friend, Bob Akroyd