A. There was a truth that was known, yet not believed. Jesus had been very clear to many that he would rise up from the dead on the third day. This truth was known to the religious leaders who hated Jesus so they went to Pilate with a request. Listen to their words (Matt. 27:63-65).
B. What happened should not have been a surprise, but it obviously was. Early in the morning on that third day, Sunday morning, Mary Magdalene and other women went to the grave to put spices on the body of Jesus. But on their way the earth shook, the stone was rolled away by an angel to reveal an empty tomb. The women were frightened by the announcement from the angel that Jesus was risen, and it appears they didn’t fully believe or at least fully understood.
C. Mary tells Peter and John who run to the tomb and find it empty, belief is there, but it seems to be more of human hope than true expectation. They leave, but Mary stays. Her heart simply doesn’t accept the facts her ears have heard. The angel asks her why she is crying, and she answers that people have taken the body of Jesus away. It’s as if she never comprehended what was said to her.
D. Even Jesus appears to her, but Mary, in her distraught state, simply thought he was the gardener of that beautiful place that Joseph of Arimathea owned. It wasn’t until Jesus spoke her name that she realized she was in the presence of the risen Jesus.
E. The story of the resurrection left the people who experienced it bewildered and unsure, it is no wonder that 2000 years later people still have a difficult time accepting the truth that Jesus is alive.
F. Today is often called Easter, or Resurrection Sunday. The anniversary of the resurrection of Jesus. And we are the people who believe that story. Since you believe, think about what the resurrection means to your life right now.
I. The Benefits of the Resurrection
A. The resurrection of Jesus is more than just the fact that Jesus conquered his own death. We need to understand that Jesus conquered our death as well. Jesus took our sins upon himself and nailed them to the cross. We glory in the cross of Christ. Yet that Sunday morning did something that the women and disciples didn’t seem to grasp at first. Jesus defeated the consequence of sin.
B. God told Adam and Eve that if they ate the fruit of the tree of Knowledge they would die. Paul reminds us that the wages of sin is death. But Paul boldly proclaims “Death is swallowed up in victory.” What Paul teaches in detail to several churches is that because of the resurrection of Jesus, the consequence of sin was defeated. No longer does sin have to keep us separated from God. Today, if we are washed in the blood of the Lamb of God, our sins and the consequence of eternal separation has been defeated.
C. What a glorious day this day is. We celebrate life, not death. Because Jesus rose and is alive today, not only has my sin been defeated and consequence has been removed, the result is that I know I can live with God for eternity. Jesus became the firstborn of the living. Jesus paved the way for eternal life. In him we now can face physical death with confidence that our eternal soul will be placed in our resurrected body and we will be at that home that Jesus has prepared for us. I love this day. The resurrection of Jesus fills me with great joy and hope.
D. While the women and disciples were filled with wonder and struggled to believe, they got confirmation. Several times Jesus appeared to them; he ate with them, talked with them and then they watched as Jesus ascended to into Heaven. For them, this story of a shaken faith became their testimony of an unshakable faith. They shared with others what they knew to be fact, Jesus was raised from the dead and the tomb is empty. Paul would meet the risen Jesus on the road to Damascus, John would see him again as he wrote the Revelation and now it’s time for us to become the proclaimers of the resurrected Lord.
II. Easter People
A. Today, we are Easter People. We are of those who experience the joy of the resurrection. What makes us Easter people, is we have experienced our first resurrection, the one that took us from sin to salvation.
B. The resurrected life does not begin at our physical death, it begins when we die to self and are resurrected IN Christ. Paul takes us to that point when he writes (Rom. 6:1-6:5). Jesus doesn’t just forgive my sin, he recreates me spiritually. My baptism is connected to his cross, the burial in that tomb and the resurrection that took place. We are people who have been raised from the dead caused by our sin and now walk in newness of life. But Paul doesn’t stop there.
C. Rom. 6:6-11. Because of the resurrection of Jesus we now consider ourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. Take hold of how great that first resurrection was so that you can celebrate how great your personal resurrection is. Baptism is more than just being immersed in water; it connects us to the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. We become people who now boldly proclaim the risen Lord and the world sees Jesus in our lives.
A. When the early church first began, they found themselves living a different joy than they had before. Because of their belief in a resurrected Jesus and a connection to him in their baptism, they lived differently.
B. Luke helps us to see that new life in Acts 4:32-35. One way to show the resurrection of Jesus and our own resurrection in Jesus is to become more like Jesus. One of the last things Jesus taught his disciples was to serve others and to love others as Jesus loved them.
C. These new believers took hold of that teaching and began to make sure everyone in the church family had everything they needed. They wanted to serve. They saw serving as a way to live out the joy of their new life. Because of their believe in the resurrection of Jesus giving, serving, loving, helping, and doing all became a part of what it meant to walk in newness of life.
D. Be an Easter person not just an Easter proclaimer. Be a person who has experienced the resurrection from death because of our sin to life because of Jesus. This is a day of celebration. We don’t just celebrate Jesus coming from the tomb victorious and alive; we celebrate that fact we now can do the same.
E. May the Lord Jesus Christ live in and through you as you share the story of salvation to all God places in your life.