Summary: Easter Energizes Christians to courageously proclaim Christ, pray to him and live for him. Unlike today's energy drinks that eventually wear off, discover how Easter provides a continual source of energy for Christians. Based on Acts 12:1-19
Have you noticed the number of so-called “energy drinks” that are on the market these days? Some have some pretty interesting names like, “Full Throttle”, “Red Bull”, “Monster”. Their purpose is rather self-explanatory. They are supposed to be able to boost your energy level, help you to stay focused and productive. However, I have yet to discover an energy drink that you just take one time, and you’re set for the rest of your life. No, eventually the affects of the energy drink wears off and you need another one. Has the energy of Easter worn off yet for you? While the sugary Easter candy might be long gone by now, Easter can be a continuous source of energy for Christians. This morning, see how Easter energizes Christians of every age to courageously proclaim Christ our Savior, to confidently pray to him, and to continually live for Christ.
Do you remember what you were doing 10 years ago today? Probably not. A lot can happen during ten years. Acts chapter 12 takes us to about 10 years after Jesus had risen from the dead. A lot of different things had happened during those ten years, but the energy of Easter had not worn off one bit. Jesus’ disciple Peter, who just weeks ago we saw standing in a courtyard on Maundy Thursday evening vehemently denying that he had ever even met Jesus, is now easily recognized by those in Jerusalem as one of Jesus’ leading disciples. However, the circumstances for being a disciple of Jesus were not exactly pleasant.
We heard, “It was about this time that King Herod arrested some who belonged to the church, intending to persecute them. He had James, the brother of John, put to death with the sword” (Acts 12:1,2). The Early Christian Church in Jerusalem was being persecuted. This King Herod in Acts 12 followed in the tradition of his family. His grandfather was the one responsible for killing the baby boys at the time of Jesus’ birth. His uncle was the one who had John the Baptist beheaded and wanted Jesus to perform some miracles while standing trial. King Herod did not have a whole lot of power in the grand scheme of the Roman Empire, but he understood how the system worked. If his Jewish citizens became restless, he would quickly lose his job and his life. So he gave the Jewish people what they wanted. He saw how the people had reacted to the execution of James and thought that if ONE dead disciple of Jesus was good, the death of two disciples would make him even more popular. So he arrested Peter but waited until after the Passover for his trial. If Peter’s trial was anything like Jesus’ trial, it would be a mockery of the judicial system with the outcome decided before the trial began.
As strange as it may sound, isn’t it good to see Peter in this account? Ten years after Jesus’ resurrection and look at what Peter is still doing? Exactly what Jesus had told his disciples to do, “Be my witnesses” (Acts 1:8). Herod seemed to have little trouble finding Peter. He knew who the disciples of Jesus were because they just would not stop talking about Jesus. In Acts 5:42 we’re told, “Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ.” But why were they so bold in their proclaiming Jesus?
It goes back to Easter. Easter announced to those disciples that God had given them what they and all people need. Yes, they had failed at times to trust God completely, just as we have. Their sinful pride had caused them to fight amongst themselves at times, just as sinful pride sometimes causes us to do. They felt the guilt of their sin, just as we do when we see what God demands and then look at what we’ve done.
But then Easter happened. The record of sin was immediately and permanently erased. A living Jesus stood before them, holding out his hands and feet for them to see and touch, to assure them that not only was he alive, but that Jesus was their Savior. He had lived for them. He had died for them. They were at peace with God. And this peace was not only for them, but for all people, for us. Easter energizes Christians to courageously proclaim Christ because we know what it means for us and for others. As the Apostle Paul said, “I am not ashamed of the gospel because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16). Easter announces the power of Christ’s love for us and for all people. And that love of Christ energizes us, as it did Peter, the other Apostles, and Christians of every generation to courageously proclaim Christ Jesus our Savior.