Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.
— 1 Corinthians 15:1-4
One Friday almost 2,000 years ago, Jesus of Nazareth died on a cross. Before the sun set that day, His friends buried Him. His enemies even sealed the tomb. But the Bible tells us that He left the grave the following Sunday morning. This is the Resurrection event! That morning when Jesus walked out of His own grave, when He showed that death is not the final word in the story of life, is the moment that changed everything.*
Suppose for a moment, that we could reverse the flow of time so that instead of moving forward we could begin to move backward day by day, each day taking us into the past, so that we could arrive at that greatest of all events in all of history. What would it be? I believe it would be three days in the life of Jesus, over one weekend, that changed the course of human history forever!
These summary verses above, given to us by the apostle Paul, set forth in very simple and direct language the very heart and foundation of the gospel or Good News about Jesus. In just four verses, he tells us not only what the gospel is, but what the gospel does. These events in human history, held over three days, have eternal consequences and implications for everyone who has ever or will ever walk on the face of the earth. What a weekend!
FRIDAY – Jesus died on the cross
On Friday morning our Lord was crucified. Isn’t it amazing that Paul does not mention a word about the rest of the life of Jesus? He doesn’t mention His birth, the silent years, His travels through Judea and Galilee, His teaching or His miracles? He distills the life of Christ to this first element: His death. He calls it “of first importance” and that is where the good news begins. Our sins have been paid for. His death on the cross defines God’s mercy.
SATURDAY – Jesus was in the grave
After it was determined by Roman soldiers that Jesus was dead, His body was taken down from the cross late Friday afternoon, wrapped in a linen cloth and placed in a garden tomb hewn out of a rock. A stone was rolled against its entrance. The body of Jesus would remain there until early Sunday morning.
SUNDAY – Jesus was raised from the dead
Jesus was raised from the dead on Sunday just before sunrise! Do you know what that means? He came back to a life He never lived before, a real physical life, a glorified life, a different life. That same life is promised to you and me and to all who believe. Our lives will someday come to an end just as His did, but we are also promised a resurrection just like His (John 11:25-26). We will live forever in fellowship with God because of what Jesus accomplished in those three days.
Three days. The greatest weekend in human history that has left a simple message that everyone can understand, if someone will but tell them. Jesus said to “shout it from the rooftops for all to hear” (Matthew 10:27). Will we? Maranatha!
*Martin DeHaan, Love to Come, Hope of the Christian Faith