Almost everyone is familiar with Ripley’s “Believe it or Not” museums, attractions, television series, and books. Founded by Robert Ripley, “Believe it or Not” deals in bizarre events and items so strange and unusual that readers might question the claims. And I must admit I have questioned some of the things I have seen – whether in attractions I have visited or in pictures I have seen or in books I have read.
In true Ripley fashion, a “believe it or not” picture revealed a tomb with a fig tree growing out of the middle of it. The tree split the great slab of stone that formed the top of the sarcophagus into three great pieces, and pushed out the side walls with the force of its growth. The tomb, according to the photographer, is in the grounds of the parish church of Watford, England, and is that of a naval officer whose dying request was that he be buried with a fig in his hand. Amazingly, the life of that fig took hold of the death of the hand of the naval officer and the power of the life of the fig tree split the tomb.
Over two thousand years ago, another “believe it or not” event took place. An event so strange and unusual that many questioned the claims made by those who discovered it. A sealed tomb with a massive rock over its opening was suddenly unsealed and a dead body wrapped in burial clothes had disappeared, but the grave clothes remained – neatly folded where the body once lay. If that weren’t bizarre enough, the once dead body was seen alive and well by hundreds of people.
The event of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, as well as the message of the gospel, is a “believe it or not” event and message. For those that refuse to believe, the event remains an enigma. But for those who do believe, the event carries meaning, purpose, and assurance for life and eternity. It provides a power that frees us from the death grip of sin, creates in us a new life, and enables life to be lived to its fullest.
The Apostle Paul gave an apt description of that meaning in his letter to the Ephesians, “In Him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ.” (Eph.1:7-9)
The picture of the fig tree splitting the tomb shows the amazing power of life. The resurrection of Jesus Christ, however, shows the greatest power of all – victory over death and the means to eternal life. The victory for anyone that would place their faith and trust in Jesus as Savior and Lord.
“Where o death is your sting? Where o grave is your victory? The sting of death is sin and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1Cor.15:55-56)