"After He was raised from the dead, His disciples recalled what He had said. Then they believed the scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken."- John 2:22
A week ago Saturday I was able to take a trip down "memory lane" and unbeknownst to me, make a lasting new one all at the same time. I took my oldest son (a high school sophomore) and his four buddies to the Southern California regional basketball championship games in Anaheim. I was excited for this outing because I had gone to the same event about twenty-five years ago and had a great time. Another reason this trip was special is because for the entire year my son has been talking about how great the Chino Hills High School varsity team was. He showed me highlights on the internet, talked about how there are three brothers on the team all going to UCLA, and that Chino Hills was not just the top team in the state of California, but the number one team in all the nation!
As we made our way to Anaheim ( a two hour drive in the rain) I was glad to make this day special for my son, but my expectations about the Chino Hills team was not as high as others. In following basketball for so many years I was used to the hype machine and all the hyperbole about this person or that team being the greatest ever. I thought to myself, "They may be pretty good, but they can't be everything everyone is talking about." As I got to my seat and watched the day unfold, my limited, unimpressed opinion was not just going to be changed, it would be blown out of the water. Sitting next to me was an older gentleman who had attended this same event for the last forty plus years. He said without hesitation that the chino Hills team was the best he had ever seen. Then as the seats began to fill up, the Chino Hills team came out for warm-ups to a loud ovation. The championship game had arrived and the undefeated Chino Hills team was set to take on Sierra Canyon, who were a powerful unit in their own right, ranked third in the state and in the top ten in the country. Well, after four minutes the score was 20-4 Chino Hills! For the rest of the game I marveled and shook my head at this most amazing round-ball spectacle. By the fourth quarter Chino Hills was up by as many as thirty points and won the game without much resistance. As we left the stadium and drove home all I could think was that Chino Hill was "BETTER THAN ADVERTISED"!
Last weekend's victorious experience has me looking ahead to our Easter celebration in two weeks. When I think about all Jesus accomplished on that holy, historic, and hope filling weekend by dying on the cross and rising from the grave, I am still amazed, still being changed by its gift and power, and still left shaking my head and thanking God. As Jesus walked with His disciples, He had been telling them about the coming events of His life: His arrest, His betrayal, His trial, His mocking, beating, and dying on the cross. But while speaking of the events that would shortly unfold, He also told them of the awesome, unprecedented, and complete victory that He would bring over sin and death. In Matthew 20:18-19 we see one example of the many times I He spoke of what was to come and what He would accomplish, "We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn Him to death and will hand Him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day He will be raised to life!" Jesus was announcing that the contest for God's will and mankind's souls would be thoroughly won by Him. He was predicting the ultimate victory against an enemy who was unable to be withstood or overcome by man. Jesus entered the arena of our world and won the battle just as He said He would. His words came true on that first Easter Sunday as the angels announced to those who had come to the tomb, "He is not here; He is risen, just as He said." (Matthew 28:6). What we come to see from the resurrection story is that what Jesus had foretold, which was confirmed by the angel, and displayed by Jesus Himself after being risen from the dead, removed all doubt and proved He was the FAITHFUL, LIVING, and VICTORIOUS Savior of the world.
What Jesus accomplished on the biggest stage and against the biggest enemy of our lives is staggering to realize. In looking at Jesus' life we see one who was good, compassionate, perfect, and anointed by the Spirit to bring God's truth and power. But even more that that, in looking at what took place on the Cross and at the tomb we experience the greatest miracle, victory, and gift. Jesus' words did come true on Easter Sunday, but even more than that His works TRANSFORMED our lives. The empty grave is a moment that should forever be in our memory, should forever have us thanking God and filled with joyful hope, and should have us forever telling others about Him. In so many ways, Easter is an anthem that declares, "Jesus is BETTER THAN ADVERTISED!"