It was June 18, 1815, the Battle of Waterloo. The French under the command of Napoleon were fighting the Allies (British, Dutch, and Germans) under the command of Wellington. The people of England depended on a system of semaphore signals to find out how the battle was going. One of these signal stations was on the tower of Winchester Cathedral.
Late in the day it flashed the signal: “W-E-L-L-I-N-G-T-O-N—D-E-F-E-A-T-E-D- -.” Just at that moment one of those sudden English fog clouds made it impossible to read the message. The news of defeat quickly spread throughout the city. The whole countryside was sad and gloomy when they heard the news that their country had lost the war. Suddenly the fog lifted, and the remainder of the message could be read. The message had four words, not two. The complete message was: “W-E-L-L-I-N-G-T-O-N- – -DE-F-E-A- T-E-D- – -T-H-E- – -E-N- E-M-Y!” It took only a few minutes for the good news to spread. Sorrow was turned into joy, defeat was turned into victory!
So it was when Jesus was laid in the tomb on the first Good Friday afternoon. Hope had died even in the hearts of Jesus’ most loyal friends. After the frightful crucifixion, the fog of disappointment and misunderstanding had crept in on the friends of Jesus. They had “read” only part of the divine message. “Christ defeated” was all that they knew. But then on the third day–Easter Sunday–the fog of disappointment and misunderstanding lifted, and the world received the complete message: “Christ defeated death!” Defeat was turned into victory; death was turned to life! Such a beautiful and inspiring story taken from the book, “Illustrations Unlimited” edited by James S. Hewett.
Imagine what and how the disciples felt the day and night before the Resurrection.
Men who have given up everything in order to follow Christ and now distraught to see their Messiah crucified and died on the cross. Some times we get into the case of the disciples and criticize them for their lack of faith but how would we have responded had we been in their sandals then? I wonder.
There is such a tone of finality to the word “death.” It’s like the final curtains are down. It’s “the End.” “Finito” as the Italians would say. I cannot type Chinese characters from my keyboards but it’s just as gloomy as it sounds. “Finished!” “Dead!” “That’s All Folks!”
Or is it?
Do you know that the One who dies on the first Good Friday is familiar with death but He treated it in another way? Let me tell you why.
The Moody bible Institute in Chicago stands tall and erect right in the heart of the windy city. I have visited it and I have at one time spent a few hours in their impressive library browsing over some of their books. This institution is named after the very popular evangelist name Dwight L. Moody.
As a young man, D.L. Moody was called upon suddenly to preach a funeral sermon. He hunted all throughout the four Gospels trying to find one of Christ’s funeral sermons, but searched in vain. He found that Christ broke up every funeral he ever attended. Death could not exist where he was. When the dead heard his voice they sprang to life. Jesus said, “I am the resurrection, and the life.”
And then the glorious Sunday came.
The stone could not hold Him, death could not conquer Him and the only One who conquered death lived and rose again to assure us and comfort us that in Him we may have life too. Don’t ask me how this is done I’m not a theologian. Heck…I’m not even religious. I’m just a businessman who believes. And this is why in Him I invest my entire life. That particular Saturday sure is a lonely one but it’s the lull before the Rise! Death now carries no more sting. For those who believe.
Put your work aside and just think about this for a moment.
Your perspective in the board room will be different from you perspective in the operating room when that time comes but the Rise on Sunday will give you hope.
Somebody said: “The stone was rolled away from the door, not to permit Christ to come out, but to enable the disciples to go in.” And that is the very essence of the Christian faith.