Two Days That Forever Changed The World
By Jeff Lukens
What day do you think was the single most significant
day in changing the course of human history?
Perhaps it was the day when Columbus discovered
America, or the day when men first walked on the moon. Maybe it was the
day Gutenberg invented the printing press, or the day when Edison invented
the light bulb. Many turning points in history could arguably be
considered the most important of all time.
After pondering this question, I chose two days. I
know what you're thinking. I asked for only one day, and I'm already
breaking my own rule. But I believe these two days, taken together, make
for the most significant turning point in all history.
The first day of these two days was the day that
In that time, Jewish people lived by a promise from
God that if they obeyed his laws, he would reward and protect them. Jesus
came to make a new promise. He had come to show them a way to live with
God forever, and on that day in Jerusalem he had come to finish his work.
He had come to die.
It was a Friday, and the start the Jewish Passover
observance would begin at sundown. It was no coincidence Jesus had chosen
this day to die. The original Passover occurred in the time of Moses. On
the night when all the firstborn of Egypt were to die, the Jewish people
smeared the blood of a lamb on their doorposts so that death would
"pass over" them. Each year, Jerusalem swelled with people to
celebrate the Passover holiday.
In the center of Jerusalem was the temple. Inside it
was a heavy and ornate curtain, twenty feet high and more than an inch
thick. In the room behind the curtain, Scripture said, the very presence
of God dwelt. The curtain represented the barrier between a fallen
humanity and the perfection of God. Entrance into this room was forbidden
to all but the high priest bringing a sacrifice.
For sacrifices in those days, sin symbolized death,
and blood symbolized life. Sin could only be washed away with blood. God
established an elaborate system of sacrifices where the blood of an
animal, often a lamb, was sacrificed for the redemption of human sin. The
lamb chosen for sacrifice had to be unblemished.
On this day, however, a different sacrifice would be
offered. Jesus' own divine, Godly-conceived, and guiltless (let's just say
unblemished) body would shed its blood in exchange for the human sin of
So, on that day, Jesus was arrested, tried, beaten,
mocked, flogged, and condemned to a humiliating and disgraceful death. At
the crucifixion site, the Roman soldiers offered him a sedative drink to
dull the pain. But Jesus needed fully to feel the agony of his payment for
sins. He needed to be able to respond to those around him, and to pray. He
needed to fulfill all the predictions about him from scripture. The
sedative would have dulled his mind, so he refused the drink.
They nailed him to the cross about 9 o'clock in the
morning. His agony on the cross was simultaneously both gruesome and
glorious. By noon, the skies grew dark as the sins of the world poured
upon his dying body.
At 3 o'clock, still conscious and knowing that death
was near, he uttered, "I am thirsty." They gave him a sponge
soaked in vinegar to wet his throat, enabling him to make one final
Gathering the last of his strength, he loudly cried,
"It is finished." Then, in an act of will that only he could do,
he released his spirit from his body as he hanged his head and died. He
had completed his task. He had died triumphantly.
Nearby, an amazed Roman soldier had been watching his
suffering. In executing condemned people, he never before had seen such
patience, kindness and dignity as he saw in this man. At the moment of
death, his awe turned to fear as an earthquake shook the land.
In that same instant, the curtain in the temple tore
apart exposing the room where God dwelt for all to see. The barrier of sin
separating people from the holiness of God had been removed. With Jesus,
we come into the very presence of God. On that day, the power of sin had
forever "passed over" believers by the perfect sacrifice of the
Lamb of God.
So, if that was the first day ... what is the second
of the two most important days?
You probably already know. It occurred only two days
later -- on Easter Sunday. Jesus' death had overcome sin, and then his
resurrection overcame death. A never-ending fellowship with God was now
open to all who would believe.
Some 40 years later, the temple was destroyed as
Roman soldiers razed Jerusalem during a Jewish revolt. With the end of the
temple, the practice of animal sacrifice ended as well.
Today, the Western Wall and a mosque -- the Dome of
the Rock -- occupy the site where the temple once stood. The sacrificial
work of Jesus, however, remains now and forever.
The presence of Jesus on this earth has had an
immense historical impact. Those two days have affected humanity more than
any other event. His conquering death and resurrection has given a
life-altering hope to billions of people. The world has been a far better
place because Jesus walked among us.