Easter weekend is really different from all other weekends and holidays on the calendar. Because if you think about it, we’re commemorating two of the most significant events in all of human history. And of course, Easter weekend, I guess some would say, started last night on Maundy Thursday, but really, it starts in my mind today, on Good Friday, that somber day where we reflect on the Crucifixion and then leads on to Sunday when we celebrate joyfully Resurrection.
Today I want to share with you some thoughts on both of these events, and then I’m going to, at the end, bridge them together, really pull it together into a central theme.
I want to read to you two verses out of the book of Acts. It’s Acts chapter 17, and it’s where Paul gives his famous sermon at Mars Hill in Athens, Greece. You know, Paul goes into Athens, that was the center of learning and scholarship where all the Greek philosophers were, and as you’re reading, Paul interacts with some of the stoics who were a certain school of philosophers there, and they are so fascinated by him, they take him to the Ariopagus which is this place where he can stand and speak to a big group of people and have discussion, kind of like Hyde Park in London. And Paul gives this brilliant talk, and he quotes their philosophers. He quotes their poets, and then he gets right down to the end of his sermon. And this is the way he closes it. He says, “Therefore, having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent because He’s fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness, through a man who He has appointed having furnished proof to all men, by raising Him from the dead.” Now, one of the first things that strikes me about these words is that Paul says that God has fixed a day out in the future when He’s going to judge the world. And he says, “He will judge the world justly and in righteousness.”
So, as we think about this judgment, we have to ask the question. But when you think of any kind of judgment, what is the criteria? What is the scale that’s going to be used to judge us by?