Summary: Easter message focusing on the facts of the resurrection
“Because He Lives…”
(Easter Sunday, April 15, 2001)
Most of you don’t know this, but I have been living with a painful childhood memory that has impacted my impressions of Easter.
It happened during a family trip. I don’t know where we were going, or how old I was, because I have blocked that from my memory.
But I vividly remember what happened. My dad was driving down the highway that dark night. All of a sudden, a small rabbit ran across the road. There was a sickening thud as the little fella met with the tires of the car.
Witnessing what had just transpired, I cried out, “You ran over the Easter Bunny!”
The trauma still haunts me. I struggle with forgiving my father for that heartless, cruel act.
Well, the story is true, but my current reaction is not. I know now that my father did not purposely run over the rabbit, and it certainly wasn’t the Easter Bunny.
But my first reaction was correct, as far as my understanding of Easter was concerned at that age.
I thought that since the Easter Bunny was dead, Easter was dead. There was no hope for Easter.
Thankfully the real Easter Story is full of hope. Because the main character of the Easter story was dead, but is now alive, and that is what we celebrate this morning.
I like Easter even more than Christmas, except for the presents, of course, and here’s why: Easter is the validation of what we celebrate at Christmas.
Without the resurrection, the birth at Bethlehem, amazing as it was from a virgin, would not have the impact it has because of the resurrection.
Our Scripture passage this morning gives us an idea of the importance of the resurrection. Please turn with me to 1 Cor. 15:3-20, which is on page 815 of the Bibles in the seats.
For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. 6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8 and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.
9 For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them--yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me. 11 Whether, then, it was I or they, this is what we preach, and this is what you believed.
12 But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. 15 More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 19 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.
20 But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.
This morning I want to visit with you about the importance of the resurrection. It’s more than a religious holiday. It is the very center of Christianity. Without the resurrection, we have nothing.
And I want to focus on three different “facts” of the resurrection, and the first of these is that…
I. The Resurrection is a Historical Fact. (vv. 3-8)
This will be the place we spend the most time, but I think you will see why as we go on, okay?
The empty tomb is a real fact of history. Let’s go over just a few of the details.
First, Jesus was dead. You would think that goes without saying, but it doesn’t. Many, even today, believe Jesus was not dead. They think He just went unconscious, then regained consciousness and came out of the tomb.