Summary: An Easter Sermon exploring the two essential truths about Easter based upon the Apostle Paul's statement in Romans 6:4, which is that Christ rose from the dead and that there's a new life to all who will believe.
As we sit here I wonder what has happened to this special day in America, and the truth is that we have been invaded. Not by some terrorist organization or by a foreign nation, rather a bunny has invaded us, and the meaning of Jesus’ resurrection has become a little bit fuzzy.
The word Easter is derived from the Anglo-Saxon goddess of the spring and dawn known as “Eastre,” and our current celebration of Easter with the bunny and eggs comes from the festival that was held in her honor during this time of spring. But this goddess worship goes much further back to Diana of the Greeks, or earlier to Ishtar of the Babylonians.
But the natural question that arises is, “How did such a pagan holiday become so entwined with the Christian’s or the Church’s celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ?” And the answer isn’t pretty.
When Christian missionaries went into other countries to evangelize, they encountered the celebrations from the religions of those particular areas. What they did was simply incorporate these religious celebrations into the holy days of the church, which they did so in order to encourage conversion.
What they did was to connect the day Jesus rose from the dead, what we call Resurrection Sunday, with this pagan festival of Eastre, which was held during this time.
But this is not the way the first church celebrated this day.
Today Easter is more about bunny rabbits who lay decorative eggs. And what has always bothered me, how did they ever get a bunny to lay an egg. Now, I’ve laid an egg, metamorphically speaking, but a rabbit?
Actually this goes back to a German myth where Eastre changed a bird into a bunny, therefore it could lay eggs.
But whatever happened to the day where we celebrated Jesus’ resurrection, you know, the whole coming back from the dead thing, the whole, Jesus died upon the cross, buried, and on the third day rose from the dead.
Look at what the angel said on this very morning almost two thousand years ago.
“He’s not here, He’s alive.”
On this Sunday the early church would greet one another with “Christ is Risen,” and the response would be, “He is risen indeed.”
Yet, today, such a greeting is hardly if ever heard, rather it’s “Happy Easter,” and I even catch myself saying the same thing because it has been so ingrained in our culture.
The problem is that most people don’t believe in the resurrection, but they do believe in a bunny that lays eggs. Go figure. But modern day celebration of Easter has no connection with the empty tomb and the miracle of the resurrection.
The real reason we celebrate this day is that Jesus Christ was crucified and died upon the cross. His body was laid in a tomb, and three days later He rose from the dead and is alive.
The resurrection miracle is Jesus’ triumph over death. The tomb is empty. Jesus is alive. This is why we gather to celebrate. And in full accordance with Jesus’ command, we are telling the world this great and glorious event.
This was the message of the early church, and it is the same message that needs to be preached today. The Apostle Paul sums up this message in his letter to the Roman church.
“Just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” (Romans 6:4b NLT)
What I’d like to do this morning is to look what the two essential truths Paul speaks about.
Two Essential Truths of Easter
1. Christ Rose From The Dead
“Christ was raised from the dead”
Some may question my use of the word, “truth.” Is the resurrection a fact? Did Jesus die and rise from the dead? Some say its superstition, supposition, or a theory, but not the truth.
What I’d like to point out at this juncture is that in the entire New Testament the resurrection is never debated. They knew that Jesus rose from the dead. You’ll find no lengthy defense of this fact, nor any attempts to vindicate the details of the gospel account by the early church fathers. Both friend and foe accepted it as fact.
If there had been some question concerning the truth of these statements, then those who did not believe could have easily gone and produced the body, or at least questioned the eyewitnesses to find either fault or flaw. But there was nothing, and that’s because it was indeed true and not some lie or fantasy.
Jesus rose from the dead.
Today, however, this is a highly disputed topic, and most people tend to disbelieve it. Today people doubt, but not because of the evidence, but because they haven’t taken the time to check it out for themselves. You see what most people do is that they come to the cross and the empty tomb with their minds and hearts already made up. One attorney put it this way.