This Easter editorial was written by Edwin V. Hayden, CHRISTIAN STANDARD’s ninth editor. It first appeared in the April 21, 1962, issue of the magazine.
By Edwin V. Hayden
They were excited people—those folk who saw Jesus after He rose from the dead. They couldn’t contain themselves from telling what they had seen and heard. Their excitement didn’t wear off; it stayed with them as long as they lived. Because of it we in our land and time have access to Christ’s church and His gospel. Others now and generations to come will have that church and that gospel, too, as excited people bring the message.
Some people say that those earliest witnesses were too excited to tell the sober truth—that their gospel grew out of their excitement and not out of the facts. Well, what made them excited, anyway? Not wishing, nor imagining, nor even in the first instance hearing what someone else said. But when they saw and heard Him; when they touched Him and ate with Him and were finally dismissed from His company, they ran to tell others. And they did not slow down very much as long as they were able to go!
They had good news. Just how good it was they couldn’t realize fully. Jesus had been good news before, but He had never yet brought so bright a morning after quite so dark a night. Against the dark millennium since David, He had been announced as Messiah. In a land that knew what imperialism really was, He had shown freedom in the truth. He had become sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, strength to the lame, life to the dead, and more than a glimpse of God to estranged sinners. He had set many to singing, and the song was sweetest to those who were familiar with sighing and tears.
But then He himself had died! Bitter betrayal and grisly execution had left His friends crushed, and His willing compliance with it all had left them in helpless frustration.
All this was the bitter bad news that made the gospel fact of resurrection more exciting. They savored life the more because they had smelled of death.
The manner and power of their testimony were in themselves past explaining except in terms of the good news they bore. They had no standing as leaders, but multitudes heard them and believed. The impressive weight of officialdom, both church and state, was applied to silence them, but they could not be still. They had not the financial resources to mount a respectable mission even to their immediate province, so they used spiritual resource instead and evangelized the world!
Did these people know the insidious evils arraigned against them? Were they informed about the menace and the machinery of suppression and persecution? Perhaps. If so they did not say much about it. But they did know their Lord, and they were informed of His Way. They shared that information with the world.
Those folk, excited by the resurrection, were God’s own propagandists. They propagated His church, sowing gospel seed and putting down rooted cuttings to grow wherever they went. They carried the campaign to the enemy, told truth before lies could get a hearing, and preached in temple court, prison, and palace before meeting places could be either opened by them or closed against them.
The amazing, exciting fact of the resurrection is with us still. War clouds and spiritual darkness form a backdrop reminiscent of Golgotha’s midday night. Yet against the thunder-mutterings of threat and despair is the trumpet peal of life anew: “I am he that liveth and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore” (Revelation 1:18).
Let the propagating power of the message, on the lips of people in whom the excitement of faith is an undying flame, go forth to whelm the world. Sound it by radio in Asia; fill the jungles with its words and works in Africa; fill the minds and lives of men with it in America! Have done with pessimism, defeatism, and merely defensive doctrine! The hiding place of the fearful will not long contain him in whom burns the excitement of faith in the risen Christ.
The empty tomb still attracts a worthy throng of those who have run to see, have entered to believe, and have gone to tell. There is a place for us in that throng.
Edwin V. Hayden served as editor from 1957 to 1977.