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The Last Word

Matthew 28:7
[H]e has risen from the dead.

I enjoy reading unusual historical accounts, such as when Sir Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington, was commanding the English Army and marched to put an end to Napoleon Bonaparte’s plan to conquer all of Europe. It was nine o’clock that night in 1815 when the Battle of Waterloo ended. Nine years later, an eyewitness account surfaced, revealing the way the result of the battle was transmitted to the waiting Britons that night. The news was flashed homeward across the English Channel by flickering torch light—much like Morse code today. On the distant shore, eagerly awaiting word of the battle’s outcome, the English were frustrated by fog that had begun to set in. As a result, the message was interrupted, and the only discernable words were “Wellington … defeated.” England was thrown into a panic as the news began to spread that they were now at the mercy of the “Little Corporal,” as the French dictator was nicknamed. But then, as hearts were failing with fear, the fog began to lift and the message appeared more clearly: “Wellington defeated Napoleon!” What a difference the completed message made! Defeat at the Battle of Waterloo ended Napoleon’s near-twenty-year reign in France and Western Europe, and he was exiled to the island of Saint Helena where he died in 1821. General Wellington fought his last battle at Waterloo and became a hero throughout Europe.

At Calvary, darkness began to descend as Christ hung suspended between heaven and earth. There were several reasons to believe the message would be nothing more than “Jesus defeated.”

Consider the facts surrounding the crucifixion: Christ had been crucified and declared dead by experienced soldiers; Christ’s body had been taken and prepared for burial with 100 pounds of spices; his body had been placed in a rock tomb; it had been sealed and was guarded by Roman soldiers. Frankly, it couldn’t look worse for this band of believers and their now-deceased leader.

But then, three days later, when hearts had melted in fear and despair, the darkness lifted. The message ended with a word that changed everything: “Jesus defeated death!”