Not far from where I was raised in Connecticut is where American hero Nathan Hale grew up. He was captured as a spy in New York City during the Revolutionary War. Before he was hanged he spoke these famous last words, "I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country."
Not far from where I now live in Richmond, Virginia another American hero Patrick Henry spoke these famous words in St. John's Church, "Give me liberty or give me death."
Whether literally the last words spoken before death or famous words spoken at a crucial time these words have great impact. Hundreds of years later almost everyone knows those words.
Almost two thousand years ago some very famous last words were spoken in Luke 24:5-6, "Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he is risen!"
Two angels spoke these words about Jesus to his disciples.
Jesus' last words before he died were, "It is finished."
But the last words spoken about Jesus were, "He is risen!"
The connection between the two is inseparable. Jesus dying on the cross completed his mission on earth. By dying on the cross for all the sins of humanity forgiveness is now available for anyone who asks for it.
Jesus offered his perfect sinless life for our imperfect sinful lives so the barrier of sin that kept us from knowing God could be removed. When you accept Christ into your life your sinful imperfection is replaced with Christ's perfection. God sees Jesus in you and accepts you as his friend.
The death of Christ without his resurrection would have been pointless and incomplete. Only by rising up from the grave did he prove his victory over death and sin. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the foundation of the Christian faith.
"He is risen" are the most famous words in history. Celebrating Christ rose from the dead is what Easter is all about.
The veracity of Jesus' resurrection is crucial. If Jesus did not rise from the dead then, as the apostle Paul says, "Our preaching is in vain;" the most famous words in history mean nothing; they are just a metaphorical phrase not historical fact.
There are those who would discredit the resurrection by claiming Jesus never really died. Over fifty years ago Hugh Schonfield wrote The Passover Plot claiming Jesus did not die but merely fainted and then was later revived. He was taken to the tomb where he was nursed back to life and then "resurrected."
Islam teaches Jesus was not crucified but God made someone look like Jesus and that person was mistakenly crucified as Christ. Jesus was then taken up to heaven alive without having died. But medical evidence has repeatedly shown Jesus could never have survived his crucifixion. Jesus' death is an historical fact as is his resurrection.
Factual proof of the resurrection is substantial. In ancient courts a woman could not be a witness, only the testimony of a man was accepted. Yet, the first witnesses of Jesus resurrection were women. If it were just a fanciful story why use women as witnesses? Why not use men to bolster the truth of the story.
The resurrection is not a myth because it does not fit the literary characteristics of a myth. Myths were developed over time (usually hundreds of years). The story of Jesus' resurrection was written within twenty years of it happening and was known orally years before. There is nothing mythical about the resurrection narrative.
Christians never venerated the site of Jesus' death. Rather, they focused on the tomb where he rose. I have visited the site at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. The focus there is clearly on the resurrection and the site of the burial tomb of Jesus.
And there were some five hundred witnesses who saw Jesus after his resurrection. How can that many people all have the story wrong? The clear answer is they can't. The reality is that Jesus was raised up from the dead and because of Jesus' victory over death and sin we can experience forgiveness and eternal life. The words "He is risen" changed the world forever and can change your life too.