“And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain” (1 Cor. 15:14).
On July 21st 1969, when astronaut Neil Armstrong began his slow descent, from the ladder of the Eagle landing craft to the moon’s surface, an awe-struck, worldwide TV audience watched on in breathless wonder. I was one of millions of UK teenagers whose eyes were then glued to a small black and white TV screen in the early hours of the morning.
As Armstrong took that final step onto the Moon’s surface, he looked into the camera attached to the Eagle and made one of the most memorable statements of the last century: "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." The Apollo moon landing is one the few events in history about which most people have felt "we did it" rather than "they did it".
It was hailed as mankind’s greatest single accomplishment, it was a breath-taking moment, it was truly awe inspiring, it was a momentously historic event...it was nothing. It was nothing compared to an event that happened almost 2,000 years before, in a small inconspicuous area outside the walls of the city of Jerusalem, from within a new tomb carved out of the rock face, the entrance to which had been sealed by a great stone.
In the chilled and deadly silence of that darkened tomb lay all the hopes and dreams of mankind, his deepest need,
his ultimate joy and lasting peace, his salvation and his future hope. The fate of all mankind lay wrapped and shrouded in the grave clothes that en-cloaked the battered and torn body of Jesus of Nazareth. Without the
resurrection of Jesus, all would be in vain.
When at last Jesus’ eyes opened to the surrounding darkness, he raised himself up and, setting aside his carefully folded grave clothes, he stepped out of that sealed tomb by his own power (John 10:18).
That event changed everything for every human who ever lived or will live. Jesus had conquered sin, death and the grave. His death and resurrection paved the way for all humanity to be reconciled to God and to receive from him life everlasting (John 3:16).
That small step from the tomb was the greatest leap mankind could ever make. It was the
leap from death to life; but we didn’t do it. “He did it!” And he did it for us.