Celebrate: What A Difference Easter Makes
3/27/2016 Luke 24:1-12 1 Corinthians 15:1-11
Our video reminds us that the heart of Christianity is not on Good Friday, but on the Sunday that is coming. We all need Jesus Christ to die for our sins on the cross, but the resurrection of Jesus was the proof we needed that God had approved the payment in full.
You see you can make an offer to buy a house, but it’s not until you get word back that your offer has been accepted that you know the house is going to be yours. We celebrate Easter because its God the Father’s way of saying to the Son, your offer has been fully accepted. The resurrection of Jesus caught everybody who knew him by surprise.
Imagine for a moment what it would be like to have someone you love very much go on a trip to Los Angelos for a few days to have a good time. They were going to catch the United Airlines Flight 570 to Cleveland at 6pm on Friday. You got a call on your cell phone Friday at 4:30pm, but before you could find your phone, the person hung up.
Caller id let you know, it was the person who was coming back to Cleveland. The person had tried calling you 4 times earlier that day. They could not leave you a voice message because your box was full. You missed the other calls because your phone was on vibrate. When you tried to return the call, there was no answer. You didn’t think that much of it. You would be seeing the person in the morning anyways.
As you are watching your television show at 9:15pm, the program comes on and says we interrupt this program to bring you a special report news. There has a been a terrorist bombing a Los Angelos airport. There were two explosions. One was in the hanger exit at gate 42. The other was a bomb planted on United Flight 570 to Cleveland. The plane blew up as it was taxing down the runway. There were no survivors. You then see the plane heading down the run way and exploding into a huge fireball.
All of your hopes, your plans, and your dreams for this other person are gone. You are hoping against hope, that somehow, your loved one was not on the plane. You frantically try to reach the person by cell phone. It goes straight to voice mail.
After 24 hours, you start to accept the other person is dead. Family members have come to see you. You even start thinking about the memorial service. Your whole world has been turned upside down. Life is not going to quite be the same again. Your sorrow seems more than you can bare. You look at the window and see channel 5 pulling up to your house wanting an interview.
You leave the family members inside and go out on the back porch to avoid the reporters.. Your cell phone rings. At first you don’t want to answer it, because you don’t feel like talking to another person. But then when you see the number on the screen, you grab the phone. And say “, hello, is this you”. And the voice on the other side, “yes its me.” You recognize the voice and you run into the house shouting. She’s alive, she’s alive.
The family asks what are you talking about. They think you have lost your mind under the stress and strain. But then they also hear the voice on the phone. It turns out your loved one never got on the plane. The person had been trying to call you the day of the accident to let you know she was going hiking for a few days in the deep wilderness and would be out of contact for a few days because there would be no phone service. When they came back and heard about the plane, the first thing she did was to call.
Although the family had gathered together to mourn and to comfort each other, that phone call changed everything, and now they had a reason to celebrate. Tears of sadness became tears of joy. Someone they thought was dead, was actually alive and would soon be on their way to see them. Channel 5 has a whole different story for the news that night.
The difference between the story in your mind, and the experience of the disciples, is that they didn’t just see a plane explode and have to figure out, their loved one was on it. They actually saw Jesus put to death on the cross. They actually saw, him breathed heavily until that final breath came out and it was his last. They actually saw a spear go into his side releasing a flow of blood and water. They actually saw his lifeless body be put into a tomb. They didn’t have to wonder about anything. There was no doubt, that Jesus had been crucified and placed in a tomb.
They expected everything to change in their lives now that Jesus was dead. All that talk about a new life seemed empty. That stuff about making you fishers of people was no longer relevant. The invitation to come and follow him had run into a dead end. What were they suppose to do now?
There was even talk that the authorities might be looking for them, for having stolen his body. For heaven sakes. What on earth do they think they wanted with a dead body, even if it was Jesus’ body. They couldn’t do anything with it, except to bury it again.
They had no idea that Jesus was going to rise from the dead. When the women went to the tomb they fully expected to find a dead body, that they could pour some perfume on it out of respect. Jesus had been buried so quickly after his death, they didn’t get to go through the usual procedures of anointing the body.
They were amazed to get to the tomb and found that it was empty when they went inside. An angel appeared and asked them, “Why are you looking for the living among the dead. Jesus is not here, he has risen indeed.” This gave the women something to Celebrate. Easter had made all the difference.
But there celebration was short lived. They ran to the disciples to tell them the good news only to be told, they were confused. They were imagining things. The stress and strain had gotten to them. What they were saying was foolishness and that they had lost their minds. But the women were strong enough to let them know they knew what they had seen and what they had heard.
Peter saw the women would not change their story, so he took off running for the tomb to see for himself. John took off after him, and being in better shape and a little younger than Peter, he got to the tomb first. They both looked in and saw that the tomb was empty.
It had to be empty. They were looking for somebody alive, where dead people hang out. You don’t expect to find living people lying around in coffins and caskets but that’s what they were doing. Jesus didn’t have time to lay around in a coffin. He had gone back to the Father, to check in, before checking out to come be with the disciples.
While they were sitting in a room with the doors locked tight, trying to figure out what was going on, because two other disciples had claimed Jesus actually, walked and talked with them on the Emmaus road. He even broke bread at the table and poured some wine for them, and they recognized him and he disappeared.
What should have been a reason for celebration, had led to who side are you on, on this issue of the resurrection. Jesus didn’t bother to knock on the door, or to pick the lock, he just showed up inside the room. He showed them his hands, and showed them where the spear had went into his side. They then recognized they had a reason to celebrate and joy filled the room.
One of the proofs of the resurrection is that nobody believed it was going to happen, even though Jesus had told them, in three days he would rise. There are four different books in the bible that tells about the resurrection. They are written by four different authors about 20 to 30 years after the resurrection.
People were alive who saw the resurrected Jesus when the books were written. If it had not have been true, the books Matthew, Mark, Luke and John would have all been discredited as false books made up of legend and lies. But the books stood, because people alive testify to them.
People will often try to compare the bible and the Koran. The Koran was written by one person over a 22 year span. He claimed that the angel Gabriel told him everything that he had written down and that God never spoke to him. The bible was written by 40 authors over 1500 years who claimed that God was speaking to them throughout the period. Jesus Christ Himself testified to the truth of the Old Testament, which predicted that he would come and pay the penalty for our sins.
The disciples had a reason a reason to celebrate when Jesus appeared to them. They went from a group of scared men and women who did not want to be associated with a dead Jesus, to men and women who would die, before they would say Jesus was not alive.
The Resurrection of Jesus was not simply a story made up. We celebrate an actual event in history.There was an actual Roman Empire The was an actual Roman Emperor by the name of Caesar. There was an actual crucifixion at the hands of a Roman official by the name of Pilate. There was an actual place call Golgotha or Calvary. There was an actual burial of Jesus Christ in a tomb owned by Joseph of Arimathea.
There was an actual resurrection of Jesus Christ. Jesus did not appear to just a group of his own followers in secret. There were a group of Roman soldiers who were paid to deny that Jesus had been resurrected, and that the disciples had stolen his body. There were a group of 500 people who Jesus appeared to all at once. The disciples were arrested, thrown into prison and beaten and told they would be punished more severely if they kept talking about a resurrected Jesus. They told the leaders, you do what you have to do, but we can’t stop talking about what we have seen and heard.
Christianity does not depend on whether you believe something is true about the bible or not. Christianity depends solely on the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Jesus told his enemies, “destroy me, and in 3 days I will rise again. He told his friends, “I will be turned over to my enemies and killed, but 3 days later, I will rise from the dead.” He didn’t try to run away from death. He faced it head on.
The only way for Jesus to rise from the dead, was if he was the actual Son of God as he claimed he was. If Jesus is the son of God, then whenever somebody disagrees with Him, the person or persons are wrong. If Jesus was not the Son of God, then there is absolutely no reason to listen to him, because He would have lied to us.
Jesus said, the whole world has disobeyed God and the punishment for that disobedience is spiritual death and darkness for all eternity. Jesus tells us more about hell than anyone in the bible.
Jesus said, that God so loved the world, that God has made a way for everyone who wants to have a changed life and put in a right relationship with God can have it. It is by putting your faith in the resurrection of Jesus, that you can have a new life. Jesus Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures. We have a reason to celebrate, because thanks to the resurrection, our sins have been paid for by the death of Jesus Christ. We will not hear the words, “Depart from me, into the place prepared for the devil and his angels.”
God has put the thought of eternity in all of our hearts. We know intuitively that there is something beyond death. We may differ on what we think it is, but we know there is something. The older we get, the more quickly we feel pulled toward that thing.
We think that time seems to be going faster. No, we actually are running out of time to prepare for the world to come. Our bodies are trying to tell us, we need to prepare to move out of this body and into another one, because this one is wearing down. It cannot handle eternity.
When you look at eternity, everything else becomes almost insignificant. So what if you become a billionaire. When you die, you will be just as dead as the dollarnaire. You will both stand before God broke. So what if you become President of the US. Do you really think that’s going to impress God in eternity?
So what if you are a great athlete or even a professional athlete, there is no team after death that will need your athletic ability. I don’t care how beautiful you are today, it to is going to past. Your career no matter how great it becomes, is going to come to an end. You are going to die, and then you are going to live forever. Is that a reason of celebration for you or a reason of concern for where you are going next.
The resurrection of Jesus Christ proves there is life after death, and that all of us are going to experience it. For it is appointed once unto us to die and after that comes the judgment. Many people walk around in their arrogance and defiance, but they can only do it because God is merciful. Their declaration that there is no God or that Jesus is not the Son of God, is only possible because God loves them.
God voluntarily restrains Himself from giving us what we deserve, with the hope of winning us with His love. For some of us God is willing to wait right up to our very last breath for us to declare that Jesus is Lord. The sad thing is, some of us will go into eternity having held on to the attempt to create God in our own image. The moment we die, we will recognize that Jesus was right all along. But whatever decision we choose before death, will be ours for all eternity.
Some of us are thinking, one day I’ll get saved, but not today. One day is not on the calendar. There are a lot of bad things that can happen to you on one day, but there is none worse than one day leaving this world and not having known Jesus as your Lord and Savior.
Easter or the resurrection of Jesus Christ is proof that anybody who wants to be saved, can be saved. The Scriptures tell us, there is no other name given by which we can be saved.
In Henry Garrity's book, "Portraits of Perseverance," Carl was a very rich man who owned a great estate. One of his favorite pastimes was riding horseback through his valley, looking at everything he owned & congratulating himself on his great wealth.
One day, as Carl was riding along, he came up over a hill & in the distance saw one of his tenant farmers, an old man named Hans. It was lunch time, & Hans had set a little table under a shade tree & was getting ready to eat.
But before he ate, he bowed his head & folded his hands in prayer to thank God for his food.
Carl watched the old man as he prayed. Then he looked at his meal. It was only a slice of coarse bread & a piece of cheese. With a sneer Carl said, "If that's all I had to eat, I wouldn't even bother to pray." Hans replied humbly, "It's enough, & I'm thankful that God has provided it."
Taken aback by the old man's answer, Carl turned his horse & prepared to ride away. But before he could leave, old Hans said, "Wait a minute. I need to tell you something. I had a dream last night. In my dream I saw a beautiful scene, & then I heard a voice saying, 'Tonight the richest man in the valley will die. Tonight the richest man in the valley will die."
"Nonsense. Foolish Nonsense!" said Carl as he rode off toward home. But as he was riding, the words of old Hans haunted him, "Tonight the richest man in the valley will die."
Up to then he had felt quite well, but now he was beginning to experience pains in his chest. He wondered, "Could it possibly be true? Am I going to die tonight?"
When he reached home he called his doctor & told him of old Han's dream & of the pains that he had been feeling. The doctor said, "Well, it doesn't sound like anything you ought to be concerned about, but just to put your mind at ease, I'll come over & examine you."
So the doctor did. After the examination was over he said, "Carl, you're as strong as a horse. There's no way you're going to die tonight." Carl said, "Well, I feel mighty foolish that I paid any attention to the old man's dream about the richest man in the valley dying tonight. But I just wanted to be certain."
So, reassured, Carl went to bed. The next morning there was a knock on his door, & the messenger said, "Carl, old Hans died last night." Truly, the richest man in the valley died last night.
How rich do you see yourself today. Has the resurrection of Jesus Christ taken the sting out of death for you? You know where you are going to spend eternity and you have a reason to celebrate. The apostle Paul wrote in the bible in, "O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?" (1 Corinthians 15:55), & "Thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through Jesus Christ, our Lord." (1 Corinthians 15:57)
The resurrection of Jesus Christ makes all the difference. God is not just going to change where your life is headed once you die. God is going to change where you are headed right now in your life that you are living. The power that God used to raise Jesus Christ, will be used to change who you are now, into the person God wants you to become.
The power of the resurrection sets people free from addiction to drugs and alcohol. It frees people from the bondage of bitterness and unforgiveness. It gives people power to deal with crisis in their lives. It puts homes and relationships back together again. It heals bad tempers, pride and arrogance. It removes guilt from things you know you should have never done. It offers another chance to those who will admit they need God in their lives.
God is going to give you a totally different reason for living. I can warn you, that it won’t be easy, but it will be worth it. Anybody can live for themselves. Only the brave and courageous can actually live for God. It’s a lot harder than you think. But it will be a life that’s worth celebrating.
Story on Hans adapted from Melvin Newland’s sermon “Easter:What A Difference.”