Summary: Easter sermon from the Resurrection Chapter of Scripture
1 Corinthians 15:1-4 (Free Text)
Easter According To The Scriptures
My dear friends in Christ, all people for whom Jesus Christ died and rose again:
The newsman reports on the TV: "According to one witness, "so and so" did "such and such", but other witnesses say that "it didn’t happen that way at all." The Federal Income Tax booklet reads, "according to I.R.S. ruling #3243, "such and such" income is taxable, but one should also consult Form #2112 for possible exemptions under these certain conditions." In college football, according to the Associated Press poll, this team is #1, but according to the Coaches Poll, that team is #1.
Who’s right? Who’s to be believed? And it was that way on the first Easter. According to the chief priests, Pharisees and Scribes, the body of Jesus of Nazareth had been stolen by his disciples in the night, and the false rumor of his resurrection had been spread around. According to the Greek scholars to whom the Apostle Paul preached about the resurrection of the dead on his 2nd Missionary Journey, such a notion was utterly foolish and to be believed only by intellectual midgets.
But my friends, we come here today with the Pharisees long dead and gone, with the ancient Greek culture buried in the sands of time, and still proclaim the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. And we do that -- not "according to one person" or "according to opinion" or "according to logic" -- but we celebrate with joy and proclaim EASTER ACCORDING TO SCRIPTURE.
1. Christ Died For Our Sins
But what is EASTER ACCORDING TO THE SCRIPTURES? It begins with this: CHRIST DIED FOR OUR SINS, ACCORDING TO THE SCRIPTURES, THAT HE WAS BURIED.
Yes, CHRIST DIED... FOR OUR SINS. More than any one thing, sin is what makes us different from God and Christ. CAN ANY OF YOU PROVE ME GUILTY OF SIN? Jesus asked the Jews six months before his death. None could. The eternal Son of God came from the side of the holy Father. God has never sinned. God has never thought about trying it. God has never even wanted to try it.
In our world, especially America, we like to highlight differences and celebrate diversity, but this difference between a holy God and sinful man is far from something to appreciate. For the holy God demands that we live up to his holy standards in our every thought, word, and action. And his standard is this YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I THE LORD YOUR GOD AM HOLY.
Moreover, who could possibly get excited about this difference when the holy God goes on to tell us in the Scriptures that THE SOUL THAT SINS SHALL DIE! And through his law, the Ten Commandments, which acts as a mirror to show me how miserably I’ve failed to be holy, God grabs me by the shirt and says in holy anger, "Damn you, Keith Wessel. I placed you as a minister and teacher of my Word to my people and you still sin against me. Even though I’ve showered you with every possible blessing in heaven and earth, you repay my goodness with wickedness. You fail to love me with your whole heart. You fail to love your neighbor, fail to seek his good before your own. You look out for #1. You’re selfish, you’re unkind, you’re inconsiderate of others, you fail to pray.... What shall I do with you, Pastor Keith Wessel. I will throw you into hell, for that is what you deserve!"
ACCORDING TO THE SCRIPTURES, that’s the picture of my heart and how God feels about it.
But, ACCORDING TO THE SCRIPTURES, that’s not the full picture of God’s heart. For Scripture also says this: CHRIST DIED FOR OUR SINS, ACCORDING TO THE SCRIPTURES. Though God is just, God is also eternal love, and in love he could not stand idly by and nonchalantly watch sinful people go to hell.
But what sinful person on this planet could possibly pay for sin? What sinful person could possibly earn heaven through perfect obedience to God, when we are all even conceived and born in sin?
There was no one. So God sent his own, holy Son into the world to DIE FOR OUR SINS. The Old Testament prophets spelled it out in detail: HE WAS LED LIKE A SHEEP TO THE SLAUGHTER; HE WAS CRUSHED FOR OUR INIQUITIES. ACCORDING TO THE SCRIPTURES, God offered his own Son into death as a perfect sacrifice FOR OUR SINS. His own Son, who he has loved from eternity far more intensely, far more perfectly than I am able to love my children. And the Son agreed willingly to sacrifice himself because he loved his Father, and because he loved us.