Summary: Easter morning sermon on people who carry the resurrection story into their lives and what it looks like.
Well, good morning. Happy Easter! He has risen! He has risen indeed! Since it is Resurrection Sunday, I thought we would start out by reading through the resurrection story that is found in Luke 24:1-12. (Scripture read here.) Isn’t that a great story? It’s not only a great story; it’s a very important story. It is a story that is basically the key story in the Christian faith. But unfortunately, for many people, it’s the end of the story. Some people come to church once a year for Easter. They hear the story. They sing a few songs. Then what do they do? They go home. They enjoy a nice dinner of ham and deviled eggs and green beans. They stuff their kids full of all sorts of candy and those wonderful things we call Peeps. I love Peeps. Then what do we do? We settle in for a nice two-hour nap. Amen.
As nice as those things are if you don’t embrace this idea of the resurrection reality beyond Easter Sunday, then Easter becomes an isolated event on the calendar and really has little power for facing the challenges in the world and for living out the life that each of us is called to live. As we think about this resurrection story, the good news is there are people who take Easter beyond a once a year story. In other words, they don’t see the resurrection story as an ending. They see it as a beginning. They see it as an ongoing continuing story that not only gives substance to this holiday we call Easter but gives meaning and substance to their entire lives. Those people I refer to are Easter People. That is what I want to talk about today. You might ask, who are these Easter People? They can be all sorts of people. They can be rich or poor, male or female, democrat or republican. They can be from various ethnic backgrounds and many social classes. The thing that they have in common is that they have all experienced some form of a death and some form of a resurrection just like Jesus.
Before we consider the Easter People, let’s consider Jesus. As many of you know, Easter didn’t begin on Easter Sunday. Really the Easter story began last week during Palm Sunday where we celebrate where Jesus was riding into Jerusalem on a donkey and the people waving the palms. Heralding the king coming to Jerusalem. As you know, the story takes a downward spiral after that. Things get progressively worse. By Thursday, when Jesus is appearing at The Last Supper with his disciples, things have gotten pretty bad because we know it is at The Last Supper where Judas was going to betray Jesus into the hands of the Roman army. If you were here Thursday night, you got to see a reenactment of The Last Supper put on by several members of the Bellevue Christian Church drama team, and it was a very good depiction of really what was going on there. It was a very heavy scene that Last Supper. Things continued to get progressively worse. Last Friday is called Good Friday. For Jesus it wasn’t really a Good Friday because it was that day he was crucified on a Roman cross. Yes it was a bad day for Jesus, but it was a good day for us because it is the day that we all had our penalty for our sins paid. As many of you know we had a community cross walk in town, and actually had a pretty good attendance. Still, Good Friday doesn’t seem to get the focus that Easter Sunday gets because of gory theme associated with it. Even though it doesn’t get the focus as Resurrection Sunday, the cross is a key symbol obviously in the Christian faith. Without the cross, you would have no crucifixion. Without the crucifixion of Jesus, you would have no burial of Jesus. Without the burial of Jesus, you would have no resurrection. Without the resurrection, none of us would be able to be resurrected or look forward to eternal life someday. In fact, we would be considered pitied among all people. The apostle Paul writes in a letter to the Corinthians “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins…If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.” (1 Corinthians 15:17–19) But Paul goes on to write but Christ has been raised from the grave and consequently, we too will be raised to have a new life.
But as good as that is, Easter People understand something. They understand that the resurrected life doesn’t begin at the physical grave. The resurrected life does not begin at our physical death. No, the resurrected life begins at our spiritual death. What we refer to as conversion. Where we accept Christ into our heart. I know some people don’t like to think about the conversion as a death experience but really that is a good description of it because what is really going on there is you are becoming dead to yourself. In other words, you are becoming dead to your self-desires, your self-interest, and your all around selfishness. What you are doing is taking yourself off the throne and putting God there. In many ways, it is a death. That death can occur in a variety of different ways. It can occur at a variety of different times in different people’s lives. In many ways there is as much variety in a spiritual death experience as there are these Easter People. I suspect there are some people here that might not be able to pinpoint the time that they accepted Christ as their savior. Some people, I suspect, may have accepted Christ as a little child. Maybe one night they were up in their room saying their nightly prayers and with a simple prayer they decided to open their heart and allow Jesus to come in. Other people might have received Christ or went through the conversion experience as a teen. Maybe at a summer camp or some sort of a conference. While others may have been adults. Maybe they were going through some severe life crisis. Maybe they had hit rock bottom and they finally decided what they needed to do was turn around and change their life and quit living the life they were living and begin a new life focusing on God. The commonality though is a death.