Sunday, April 5, 2009

What Easter does...

The resurrection does many things...

>First and foremost, the resurrection happened. This historic event was visibly observed by over 500 witnesses, proving that this was not some fable or legend. Even the Jews and Romans knew that Jesus was dead, and also that the tomb was empty on Easter morning. They all knew that it was heavily guarded and blocked with a 2-ton stone sealing Jesus’ body within. They knew Jesus was heavily wrapped in cloths that were soaked with myrrh, enough to suffocate anyone. They had seen the severity of his scourging and execution. And without doubt, they knew Jesus had returned to life. The empty burial clothes were left behind as a testament to His victory over death.

>The resurrection takes away our fear….A father and son were driving along a country road on a warm spring day, when suddenly a bee flew into the car. The boy was deathly allergic to bee stings, and began to panic as the bee buzzed inside the vehicle. The father reached out and caught the bee in his hand, then winced in pain. He opened his hand and showed his son the stinger still in his palm. “Relax, son,” he said. “I took the sting—the bee can’t hurt you anymore.” The empty tomb is God’s way of saying to us, “Relax, My child; I took the sting—death can’t hurt you anymore.”

>The resurrection gives authority to our witness in the world. In every evangelistic sermon in the book of Acts, the early church leaders pointed to the fact that Jesus was risen from the dead. This Easter event gave weight to their message that Jesus was, in fact, the Messiah and Savior of the world.

>The resurrection gives powerful significance to the Lord’s Supper. Without Easter, this meal would be no more than a memorial service. But when we remember Christ’s atoning death, we also recall His resurrection, the death of death. Holy Communion is a victory banquet! The resurrection gives us hope for the future. Without Easter, Communion--and life itself would be meaningless. Like the disciples on the road to Emmaus, we break bread with our risen Lord, and our eyes are opened, our hope restored.

>The resurrection unites all Christians, even our Eastern Orthodox friends, who observe Easter on a different day. We may worship differently, we may not see eye-to-eye on all issues…but one central belief unites and inspires all Christians. We are united in our celebration that the power of death has been forever conquered through the resurrected Christ.

>The resurrection showcases Jesus’ authority. In Oscar Wilde’s play Salome, King Herod learns about the raising of Lazarus and is enraged. He cries out in protest, “I forbid Jesus to raise the dead. This man must be found and told I don’t allow people to raise the dead.” Herod the tyrant felt threatened; he knew that if somebody is going around raising the dead, then his power has met a greater power.

>The resurrection matters. We may differ on minor doctrines, but this is a critical, essential truth of our faith. Scripture tells us that the payment of sin is eternal death: “the soul that sins will surely die”. We all deserve eternal death…but when we look at the empty cross we have a reminder of God’s promise that we are forgiven.

This key fact of history is something we cannot be neutral about. Everyone knows about Jesus, but not everyone knows Him in His saving power. For that to happen, we have to respond to His love by trusting Him for salvation.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great post Pastor Bob. I noticed one of your sermons on sermoncentral, where I am a regular contributor as well, "Putting the Easter back in Christmas..." I love it... Blessings!

Pastor Chris Surber
First Congregational Church
Peru, Illinois