Summary: An Easter sermon that affirms that Christ died for the whole world (One for all) and that our duty as believers is to live our lives set on heavenly things, not worldly and spread the good news of the reusrrection (all for One).
One for All and All for One
Several years ago, a Christian research and study group posed a series of questions to random people on the street. One of the questions asked was “What is Easter?” The answers ranged from “Easter is Jesus’ birthday” to “Easter is the day Jesus died on the cross” to “Easter is the celebration of the coming of spring”.
Increasingly, Easter, like Christmas, is celebrated by the general population as a cultural holiday, but not necessarily as a religious HOLY day. Many children and adults know Easter to be the day of chocolate bunnies and egg hunts, a time for new clothes, a time for classic movies to run on TV, and a time for family get-togethers. For too many people Easter has become a secular celebration with the religious and true meaning of day lost to the worldly powers of commercialism.
So today, I invite you for the next several minutes to join with me in reflecting upon the importance of this day to our faith and to the history and future of the world. Without the miracle of Easter, there would be no Christian faith. Without the miracle of the empty tomb and the resurrection of the Savior - Jesus of Nazareth would be just another prophet, just another teacher, just another “man of God” but not God the man.
So, “What is Easter?” Easter is the foundation of our faith. Easter is the fulfillment of Christ’s promises. Easter is the most important day in all of history! Easter is the witness of life defeating the power of death. Easter is our reason to hope and have faith in the promises of Christ Jesus our Lord. Easter is the celebration of life for all the world.
In Alexander Dumas’ novel The Three Musketeers, Athos, Porthos and Aramis live by the motto “One for all and all for one.” Since the publishing of the novel, this motto has been picked up by many other organizations and is also the unofficial motto of Switzerland. The reason “all for one and one for all” is so appealing to many groups is that in seven words, a mutual commitment is communicated. As members of the group pledge this motto they are pledging support to individual members and also to the whole group and vice versa.
By using this motto of mutual commitment as today’s sermon title, I want us to consider the Easter relationship between Christ, the One, who died for all of us, and our shared responsibility as the children of God to live as people wholly devoted to Christ – all of us living for the glory of Him.
Let us first consider the “One for all” part of our Easter relationship. What does it mean for Christ to have died for all of us?
Perhaps one of the oldest debates of our faith is “who is in and who is out.” Even while Christ was still alive, the disciples would argue among themselves about who were the heirs to the promises and teachings of Christ. Most of the time the disciples saw Christ as the Redeemer of the Chosen people – the Jews; therefore, they would be disturbed when Jesus stopped to speak with Samaritans, or used foreigners as the righteous examples in his teachings. This idea of exclusivity followed the disciples even after Christ’s death and resurrection. Immediately preceding our reading today from Acts 10, a non-Jew, a commander in the foreign army, named Cornelius (who is described in the scriptures as devout and God-fearing, even though he is not a Jew) sees a vision of an angel of God. In this vision he is told to send for Simon Peter. The next day, Peter (who lives by strict Jewish dietary laws) has a vision where he is encouraged to eat even “unclean” animals – as the voice of the Lord says, Do not call anything impure that God has made clean. (10:15) While Peter wonders about this vision, Cornelius’ men come to him. And Peter is convinced to travel with them to Cornelius’ house and hears Cornelius’ tell of his faith and the vision of God…
Then Peter began to speak: ‘I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts [people – men, women and children] from every nation who fear him and do what is right.’ If this is not a clear communication of “One for All”, then I don’t know what is!! God does not show favoritism. Christ’s death and resurrection was not just for a few – it was for the redemption of the world! Peter goes on to say in today’s reading from Acts: “All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” Everyone who believes. Everyone who does what is right. Everyone – regardless of race, age, gender, ethnicity – everyone can be the heir of Christ’s gift of redemption.