The one promise the universe won't break
On February 19, 1999, I was driving home from a local talent show I didn’t want to attend. I flew home early from a business trip to Denver because I wasn’t feeling well. One of my employees invited me to the talent show and I didn’t know why I said yes. They played Christian music. I was not a Christian. I was a lapsed Jew who was very resistant to Christian things.
After the show, we went to Waffle House where I had a discussion with the group about God. I mocked their faith. I said no man ever died and rose again. They were polite. In the parking lot, I asked my employee how he could believe these things. He said “I don’t believe. I know.” I asked, honestly, how could that be? He said I should ask God.
On the drive home, I asked God a simple question, to which I didn’t expect an answer. “If you’re there, show me.” Instantly, I was not in my pickup truck. I was hanging by what appeared to be a thread, in a cylindrical hole, like a well, with damp stones lining it. It went up very far with a tiny light coming from above. It went down into blackness, forever. I somehow knew it had no bottom. There was a little breeze coming from below, and I was hanging, helpless, over the abyss. I don’t know how long I hung there.
Then I heard a voice. I knew it was God. I don’t know how I knew. The voice said, “this is your condition.” Then I was back in my truck, at the same instant I vanished, but I knew I was gone for quite a while. That encounter changed me, permanently.
It took me months to find Christ after that, because I didn’t know much about the Bible. I grew up Jewish and hadn’t read any Scripture in years. I never read the New Testament. But I had heard the voice of God speak to me.
Over many centuries, thousands, if not millions, have heard the voice of God speak to them. Sometimes it was audible. One of those times was when Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the foal of a donkey. Another time it at Jesus’ baptism when God said, “this is my son, in whom I’m well pleased.” When Jesus died on the cross, on a day like today, the sky grew dark and the veil of the Temple (a six-inch thick curtain of felt hanging from the top to the bottom separating the Holy of Holies from the rest of the Temple) was turn in two from top to bottom.
When Jesus arose from death, an impossibility, on a Sunday like the one coming, on the morning of the third day, many saw Him walking among them, and an earthquake shook Jerusalem. The voice of God has spoken, in dreams, in visions, and through men and women preaching the Gospel, telling of these things. Some of them spoke their faith with their dying breath, succumbing to unimaginable torture.
The universe makes only one promise to you. Now that you’re here, the universe promises that you will die. There’s only one certainty that you know without doubt, and that is one day, you, like every other human being before you, will take your last breath. Me, I go back to hanging by that thread, knowing that life is a fragile and temporary thing here. But I go back to my faith, from reading Matthew 27.
At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people.
When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, “Surely he was the Son of God!”
Of all the things Jesus promised to those who believe, the one that He proved is that he defeated death itself. Only one who is in authority over the universe could make and keep that promise. Though humanity may try, and people will say that our messiah is technology, or AI, or going to other planets, death will win in the end, because the universe only promises that one thing.
Jesus promises life. He speaks to those who are listening, who have “ears to hear.” Even the blind see him, and the deaf hear him. Those without faith are aroused from doubt by His voice. Those who are dead will rise with Him. I can’t think of a better promise. It truly is Good Friday.
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