Because I live, you also will live. John 14:19
“A great man has died.” With those words, the news media informed the United States, and the world, that President Gerald Ford, once the most powerful man in the world, had passed away. The days which followed were marked by coverage which included mourning crowds, moving eulogies and official ceremonies. Flags flying at half-staff marked quite a change in public opinion toward the ex-President who had once been roundly condemned by almost everyone.
Death changes things, doesn’t it?
“A great man has died.” On Good Friday, 1865 President Abraham Lincoln was murdered and his Secretary-of-State William Seward was attacked by a knife-wielding killer. Three days later on Easter Sunday, Seward, who had not been informed of Lincoln’s death, asked to have his bed moved closer to his hospital window. As he gazed upon the trees in bud, he saw the flag flying at half-staff on the War Department building. Slowly the significance of the flag began to dawn and Seward cried, “The President is dead." His nurse tried to deny it, but Seward knew his friend was gone. He began to cry uncontrollably, shaking and weeping until the bandages that held his wounds were soaked with tears and blood. The nation’s mourning of the assassinated President showed a turn around for a man who had been generally laughed at and despised.
Yes, death changes things.
“A great Man has died.” Almost 2,000 years ago Jesus Christ was nailed to a cross. But when Jesus gave up the Ghost no flags were lowered to half-mast. There was no great change in sentiment regarding His passing. Those who had hated and plotted His murder were glad of it and did their best to make sure Jesus wouldn’t be proclaimed a martyr. Those who had loved Him continued to do so as they privately mourned His passing.
Still, there is truth in the idea: “death changes things.”
Jesus’ death certainly changed things. Jesus’ death changed things because, unlike the end of Gerald Ford, or Abraham Lincoln, or every great man in history, Jesus didn’t stay dead. When death beckons rulers must step down from their thrones; generals must turn over their commands, and the powerful become weak. Only Jesus, God’s Son, the Savior was able to face death and have death back down. Which means while death changes things; Christ’s resurrection changes more. It’s something to remember as we see the flags at half-mast.