Summary: Easter is firs, an ACT OF GOD; second, an APPROPRIATION OF GRACE; and third, an APPEAL TO GRATEFUL LIVING.
A wedding was being videotaped. The video was shot from the back of the church looking up the aisle toward the bride and groom. Because of the camera angle, you could see several members of the congregation. Suddenly, during the giving of vows, a man jumped up from his pew and yelled, “Yes, Yes, Yes!” as he pumped his fist. Then he froze and slid down into his seat--and sheepishly took off his headphones. It turned out he had been listening to the Auburn-Alabama football game, and his favorite team had just scored.
Can you shout your acclamation to God and exclaim "yes, yes, yes." You can if you know that Easter is the act of God, the appropriation of grace, and the appeal to grateful living.
I. EASTER IS THE ACT OF GOD
First of all, the resurrection is a miracle that only God can do. Easter is God’s signature miracle. In Acts 10:40 Peter declared, "God raised him up on the third day."
The resurrection is a well-attested historical event. It is recorded in all four gospels. An atheist said that the fact that the variance of the four narratives proves that the resurrection did not really take place. There are still many unresolved questions about the shooting of John F. Kennedy. Many accounts differ on many points. Was there a conspiracy? How many shooters were there? And yet nobody questions whether the former president is already dead.
Let’s briefly consider the evidence. An angel rolled the heavy stone from the opening of the cave and then said to the women who came to visit, "He is not here, for He has risen." The angel did not roll the stone so Jesus can get out. He rolled the stone to show the visitors that Jesus is no longer in the grave.
The Jewish leaders bribed the soldiers to lie that the disciples stole the body of Jesus. And yet the strip of cloth that was wound around the body of Jesus was rolled neatly and the piece of cloth that was used to cover His head was folded and lying beside it. Can you imagine the terrified disciples bothering to unwind the strip of cloth around His body and neatly folding it before escaping with the body of Jesus? And don’t forget that the tomb was sealed and there were Roman guards.
Paul said in 1 Cor. 15 that there were about 500 witnesses to the resurrection and at the time he wrote the epistle many of them were still around so that those who wanted to verify could easily do it by interviewing any of those witnesses. Now, two or three can be mistaken, although three witnesses can prove guilt in a court of law. There were about 500 witnesses, mind you!
II. EASTER IS AN APPROPRIATION OF GRACE
1 Corinthians 15 is called the Resurrection Chapter of the Bible. It begins with the gospel or good news. The good news is that Jesus Christ died and rose again from the dead for our salvation. That is grace.
Easter is the proof of our own resurrection. If He did not rise from the dead, then it is not possible for us to be resurrected. If He is not raised, we are still in our sins. And we are of all men most miserable.
Easter is also the proof of the second coming. Simple logic tells us that if He is not risen, then His promise of coming again is useless.
Our salvation, resurrection, and rapture are the appropriations of grace for grace is unmerited favor.
III. EASTER IS AN APPEAL TO GRATEFUL LIVING
1 Corinthians 15 closes with these words: "Thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord" (vv.57-58).
In John 21, after the miraculous catch and the breakfast by the beach, our Lord asked Peter three times, "Peter, do you love Me?" And to each of Peter’s affirmative answer, the Lord said, "Feed My sheep." Service is our way of thanking God.
At the cross, God demonstrated His unswerving love to us (Rom. 5:8). This Easter, let us give our life in loving service to Him.