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Summary: Easter often seems to be more about “Cadbury Bunnies, and new clothes” The events surrounding an itinerant teacher from Bethlehem are buried somehow by many in the celebration of spring and Easter dinners. Does the resurrection of Jesus really matter?

West Greeley Baptist Church

March 31st 2002

“Does the resurrection of Jesus really matter?”

1st Corinthians 15:16-20

Pastor Mark Hensley

16For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. 17And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 19If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.

20But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.

Intro: Among the people from Eastern Europe, the Easter basket had nothing to do with candy and rabbits. Baskets were filled with symbolic things and taken to church to be blessed. There was bread in the basket to recall how Israel relied on God in the wilderness and to symbolize life. Horseradish was there to suggest the bitterness of Egyptian bondage and the bitterness of Jesus death. Salt was there as a symbol of our common humanity. Ham was there as a reminder that we are not under the old law, which forbade so much, but under the new. Eggs were in the basket, too. They stood for hope and resurrection and life! Whatever our customs, whatever our symbols, Easter always stands for new life, for resurrection, for hope!

Transition: Easter often seems to be more about “Cadbury Bunnies, and new clothes” The events surrounding an itinerant teacher from Bethlehem are buried somehow by many in the celebration of spring and Easter dinners. Thoughts of his winning over death and being alive are kept in the back of many minds this time of year!

Is the resurrection really that important for the celebration of Easter? Are the events of Jesus life, relevant to me today? Millions of people throughout history have asked those questions. Before coming to faith in Christ perhaps you asked these questions. Maybe you’re setting here today and those questions are even now filling your mind!

Why all the fuss about Easter, why does it matter whether or not Jesus arose bodily from the tomb? I try to live a good life; I am a responsible member of this community and an ethical person. Why get overly excited about an event that is centuries old?

If it does matter, if it’s essential to my faith then what is it about the resurrection that offers me purpose hope and a future?

"Why is this night different from all other nights?" This is the question which is asked in every Jewish home at Passover. It is always asked by the youngest child; and it offers an opportunity to explain the rescue of Israel from Egypt. So we may ask of the day of Christ’s resurrection, why is this day different from all other days? The answer is the most important ever given!

The resurrection of Jesus is without question the most pivotal truth to the Christian faith! Paul makes it clear in 1st Corinthians 15:16-20

16For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. 17And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 19If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.” 20But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.

If life doesn’t continue then it didn’t continue for Jesus

If life doesn’t go on your, faith is empty, and you haven’t been forgiven

If life ends at death, then Christians cease to exist and we have missed what life is all about:

I. If life doesn’t continue then it didn’t continue for Jesus 16For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either”

Paul was writing to people who refused to believe in the bodily resurrection of Jesus! It seems that they still wanted to follow and adhere to his teachings, but stopped short in their belief that he defeated death! Paul is logically helping them to understand that Jesus is more than a moral teacher whose teachings lead to a full and balanced life. He is much more that a moral influence!

Paul’s point is that life continues! It does not end with your final heartbeat and breath! It didn’t end for Jesus and it doesn’t end for anyone! 16For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either”. The difference is that Jesus came back! He went to the other side…and has returned to tell us that for all people who receive his forgiveness …all is well, on the other side of your last heartbeat!

The first law of Thermodynamics says that no mass or energy is ever destroyed, that it merely changes form. When a piece of wood is burned, it is not gone. Some of it becomes heat; some deteriorates into the ashes. But it is not destroyed - it just changes. When a lake dries up, the water is gone. It has evaporated into the air, only to fall to earth again someday. If we can see this all around us in the physical world, is it so hard to conceive of it in the spiritual world? Harry Emerson Fosdick said, "Can it be that God is the most unscrupulous waster in the universe making great personalities, only to throw them utterly away." If we can see it in nature, can we see it in the sphere of faith? We, too, can have the same confidence that the apostle Paul had when he said, "We shall all be changed."

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