Summary: Three new attacks on the Resurrection story just in time for Easter.
IF JESUS DIDN’T RISE
Intro: Among the people from Eastern Europe, the Easter basket had nothing to do with candy and rabbits. Baskets were filled with symbolic things and taken to church to be blessed. There was bread in the basket to recall how Israel relied on God in the wilderness and to symbolize life. Horseradish was there to suggest the bitterness of Egyptian bondage and the bitterness of Jesus death. Salt was there as a symbol of our common humanity. Ham was there as a reminder that we are not under the old law, which forbade so much, but under the new. Eggs were in the basket, too. They stood for hope and resurrection and life! Whatever our customs, whatever our symbols, Easter always stands for new life, for resurrection, for hope!
Transition: Easter often seems to be more about “Cadbury Bunnies, and new clothes” The events surrounding an itinerant teacher from Bethlehem are buried somehow by many in the celebration of spring and Easter dinners. Thoughts of his winning over death and being alive are kept in the back of many minds this time of year!
Is the resurrection really that important for the celebration of Easter? Are the events of Jesus life, relevant to me today? Millions of people throughout history have asked those questions. Before coming to faith in Christ perhaps you asked these questions. Maybe you’re setting here today and those questions are even now filling your mind!
Why all the fuss about Easter, why does it matter whether or not Jesus arose bodily from the tomb? I try to live a good life; I am a responsible member of this community and an ethical person. Why get overly excited about an event that is centuries old?
If it does matter, if it’s essential to my faith then what is it about the resurrection that offers me purpose hope and a future?
"Why is this night different from all other nights?" This is the question which is asked in every Jewish home at Passover. It is always asked by the youngest child; and it offers an opportunity to explain the rescue of Israel from Egypt. So we may ask of the day of Christ’s resurrection, why is this day different from all other days? The answer is the most important ever given!
The resurrection of Jesus is without question the most pivotal truth to the Christian faith! Paul makes it clear in 1st Corinthians 15:16-20
1 Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. 2 By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. 3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. 6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8 and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.