The miracle that is Easter morning will be celebrated by over 2 billion people today in reflection and adoration of the triumph of life over mortality. The power of the messenger resonates with such clarity over the millenia that historical significance of the event still drives enormous academic study, and the religious significance unbounded in its power still to convert. The conceptualization of a miracle that frees man of his sinful character and provides a means for eternal salvation in a world that constantly torments is still the single most powerful philosophical force in humanity’s understanding of being, and continues to grow amongst all religions.
He is not Here. With those simple words the New Testament describes the “impossible”. A Nazarene named Jesus, borne some where around 4 BC, and unknowable to history until three years prior to the above event, had developed a new strain of religious philosophy that was powerfully drawing people of all persuasions to a new perception of life and religion that was beginning to threaten established traditions and hierarchies. At a time at the height of the Roman Empire, the recent establishment of a “devine” emperor did not leave room for a philosophic religion that had no place for his divinity. Additionally this new religious strain taught concepts of individuality that flew in the face of the local Judaic tradition – this religious teacher claimed inward purity was more important than outward acts of precise following of the letter of biblical law. He spoke in parables and claimed miracles, and had a place for those who had been scorned or punished by establishment law or creed. He saw a loving and forgiving God, and saw the individual as the sole claimant to that love, “You are the Light of the world.” Thousands believed and thousands began to follow. The implied threat was visible to established order, and the action to end the threat ruthless. The man Jesus suffered the painful death of crucifixion at the hands of the Romans, and the threat to their order they thought they had just ended was ignited a thousand fold with the miracle of the empty tomb, as prophesied, three mornings later.
He is not here. The empty tomb was the consequence of a Risen Jesus. No single reported event in world history has shown the prosthelitizing power of this one. The witnessed miracle led to his apostles risking all to spread what they had experienced to Jew and Gentile alike, and through Peter and Paul, into the very heart of known world, Rome itself. In the course of just three hundred years, the Roman Empire that attempted to snuff out the fragile message of individuality at its origin, ended up fully converted to the powers of the event by the act of its own emperor Constantine.
What exactly happened so many years ago is an article of faith. Like all unexplainable events, the faithful have been buffeted over the centuries with distortions and trials by those who would seek to control the masses through the control of the message and memory. The clarity of the message over time grows sharper and more distinct with each year more removed from the miracle of Golgotha. If one focuses on a life of personal charity, love, and forgiveness, no greater path to eventual happiness exists, and no happiness exists that is more palpable and enduring. Happy Easter.