Summary: What difference does Easter make? Does it really matter? How does it impact the way you live your life on a daily basis? When Jesus got up and walked out of that tomb, he changed everything. Here are three simple ways that Easter has impacted my life and
EASTER: BECAUSE HE LIVES
Scott Bayles, Pastor
Blooming Grove Christian church: 4/8/2012
Welcome to the Grove. I just want to take a moment to thank everyone for choosing to spend Easter morning with us here at the Grove. Whether you’ve been coming to the Grove all your life, or this is your first time visiting, or you just haven’t been back since last Easter—we’re glad you’re here because Easter is the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ and it’s the capstone in the arch of Christianity
A Sunday School teacher once asked her class to write one sentence on “What Easter Means to Me.” One student wrote: Egg salad sandwiches for the next two weeks!
Another Sunday School teacher once asked her class, “Why do we celebrate Easter?” The children gave a variety of answers: because of the Easter bunny, Easter eggs, candy, spring, etc. Then the teacher said, “No, those are Easter traditions and symbols, but what is the reason why we celebrate Easter? What happened at the very first Easter?” A little girl raised her hand and said, “Easter celebrates Jesus coming out of the tomb.” The teacher exclaimed, “Yes!” excited that the correct answer finally surfaced. Proud of herself for having the right answer, the little girl continued, “Then Jesus looks to see if he can see his shadow, and if He can then we have six more weeks of winter!”
Have you ever wondered what bunny rabbits and colored eggs have to do with the resurrection of Jesus, anyway? The short answer is—nothing. The longer answer is that rabbits and eggs were both symbols of springtime and new life in many ancient near-eastern cultures. In fact, some historians claim that the tradition of hiding colored eggs in a field for children to find dates back to ancient Babylon many centuries before Jesus was born. And no one is quite sure where the name Easter comes from either. There are several theories about it. Some say that it comes from the ancient Germanic calendar because their word for April is actually Easter. Others believe the name Easter is derived from the Eostre or Esther, the Anglo-Saxon goddess of spring, for whom a spring festival was held annually. Still others see a connection to the Babylonian goddess of spring, called Ishtar or the Phoenician goddess Astarte.
But far from attempting to Christianize pagan springtime festivals, early Christians intentionally choose to establish a rival celebration of the resurrection of Jesus which took place on the Sunday morning following the Passover celebration in early spring. Jesus essentially usurped springtime celebrations of all sorts all across the globe. Early Christians readily adopted the eggs as symbols of new life and birth. Ashley even used special Easter eggs called Resurrection Eggs in order to share the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection with all the children who attend our community Easter egg hunt yesterday. And while the world has all but forgotten the Greco-Roman gods of ancient mythology, they are annually reminded that two thousand years ago Jesus Christ rose from the grave and changed the world!
But, let me ask you—what difference does Easter make? Does it really matter? How does it impact the way you live your life on a daily basis? Even people who believe Jesus rose from the grave on the third day sometimes have difficulty articulating its relevancy to their lives. So whether you are a follower of Christ or are still examining His claims, I want to invite you to travel back with me to that first Easter morning—Resurrection Sunday—when Jesus appeared to his faithful followers and explore the significance of the resurrection and the difference it can make in your life.
On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”… Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. (John 20:19-22, 30-31 NIV).
Bill and Gloria Gaither have written many wonderful Christian songs. Gloria wrote one in particular in the 1960’s came while she was expecting her first child. The couple was going through some terrible problems. Bill had been seriously sick, their music had been criticized for not being spiritual enough. On New Year’s Eve, Gloria writes, “I sat alone in the darkness thinking about the rebellious world and all of our problems—and about our baby yet unborn. Who in their right mind would bring a child into a world like this?” But then something happened. She said, “I can’t quite explain what happened in that next moment, but suddenly I felt released from it all. The panic hat had begun to build inside was gently dispelled by a reassuring presence and a soft voice that kept saying, ‘Don’t forget the empty tomb, don’t forget the empty tomb.’ Then I knew I could have that baby and face the future with optimism and trust for I had been reminded that it was all worth it just because He lives.” Out of that experience she wrote the lyrics: “Because He lives I can face tomorrow, because He lives all fear is gone, because I know He holds the future. And life is worth the living just because He lives.”