Summary: Easter. Will examine the changed lives of the Apostles as proof of the resurrection of Jesus.
(Sometime previous to the message – maybe during announcements)
Joseph Bayly - in Psalms of My Life:
Let’s celebrate Easter with the rite of laughter.
Christ died and rose and lives.
Laugh like woman who holds her first baby.
Our enemy death will soon be destroyed.
Laugh like a man who finds he doesn’t have cancer or he does but now there’s a cure.
Christ opened wide the door to heaven.
Laugh like children at Disneyland’s gates.
This world is owned by God and He’ll return to rule.
Laugh like a man who walks away uninjured from a wreck in which his car was totaled.
Laugh as if all the people in the whole world were invited to a picnic and then invite them.
Intro: A letter came from Health and Human Services to a resident of Greenville County, South Carolina: "Your food stamps will be stopped, effective March 1992, because we received notice that you passed away. May God bless you. You may reapply if your circumstances change." Good luck with that one!
Story - Peggy Key is driving to church on Easter Sunday morning. She tells her children the Easter story. “This is the day we celebrate Jesus coming back to life,” she tells them. Right away, her 3-year-old son, Kevin, piped up from the back seat, "Will He be in church today?” Yes, Kevin, He is!
Some of you are kind of resurrection re-enactors yourselves. Once or twice a year, you show up at Church. I saw a cartoon of a guy leaving a church and he says to the preacher – “You must be in a rut. Every time I hear you preach you’re either talking about Jesus’ birth or resurrection!” Well, if that’s you this morning – you know who you are – I notice that at least you’re here, and that’s a good start. It tells me that you probably realize that the resurrection of Jesus is somewhat important. You probably accept that it happened.
Joke - Sign in a San Francisco wholesale florist shop: “If you don’t believe in the resurrection of the dead, you ought to be here five minutes before quitting time!”
Fact is, The Resurrection is under attack…again. It wasn’t a coincidence that a few weeks ago the Discovery Channel aired a program about the supposed discovery of the family tomb of Jesus, complete with the ossuaries of His wife Mary Magdalene and their son.
For centuries, people have tried to deny the resurrection. It started the very day it happened.
When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money, telling them, "You are to say, ’His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ If this report gets to the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble." So the soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has been widely circulated among the Jews to this very day.
Why would they do such a thing? Because if the resurrection is real, it changes everything. That’s why it has always been under attack. That’s also the reason that faithful people have been deliberate to defend it. At the very center of Christianity is this claim – that Jesus Christ physically rose from the dead on the 3rd day.
In one of his very first letters, Paul writes a statement of belief that was apparently widely quoted in the early Church:
For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. 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. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.
The resurrection of Jesus is so central, so basic. If it’s not true, then what the Scriptures said would happen isn’t true. If it’s not true, then what Jesus Himself said would happen isn’t true. If it’s not true, then the Apostles who testified to the resurrection weren’t trustworthy. And, Paul adds in I Co 15, if the resurrection of Jesus isn’t true, then we have no hope beyond this life, and we should be pitied beyond all people.
Of course the enemies of Jesus are going to attack it! Take away the Resurrection, and Christianity is empty.
Many people have recognized the value of proving the Resurrection. In fact, if you want to find some cause to throw yourself into, there’s a good one – helping people understand that Jesus really did rise from the dead.