Summary: Easter Message reflecting on the fact that because of Christ we can be ready to face God when we die.
Ready Because of Christ
1 Corinthians 15:12-20, 54-55
Easter Sunday, March 23, 2008
NOTE: THE ME/WE/GOD/YOU/WE FORMAT USED IN MY MESSAGES IS BORROWED FROM ANDY STANLEY’S BOOK, "COMMUNICATING
FOR A CHANGE."
Me: I shared this story the first Easter I was here, back in 2001, but we’ve got a number of people who have become part of our church family since then, so I thought I’d repeat it here.
I have been living with a painful childhood memory that has impacted my impressions of Easter.
It happened during a family trip. I don’t know where we were going, or how old I was, because I have blocked that from my memory.
But I vividly remember what happened. My dad was driving down the highway that dark night. All of a sudden, a small rabbit ran across the road. There was a sickening thud as the little fella met with the tires of the car.
Witnessing what had just transpired, I cried out, “You ran over the Easter Bunny!”
My dad tried to convince me that that wasn’t the Easter Bunny, and it wasn’t until I saw the Easter basket (brought by the Easter Bunny, of course) that I was willing to consider the possibility that the Easter Bunny, was, in fact, alive, although at first I wondered if maybe Dad hadn’t smuggled in the basket to cover up the demise of the Easter Bunny.
Well, the story is true, but my current reaction is not. I know now that my father did not purposely run over the rabbit, and it certainly wasn’t the Easter Bunny.
But my first reaction was correct, as far as my understanding of Easter was concerned at that age.
I thought that since the Easter Bunny was dead, Easter was dead. There was no hope for Easter.
Thankfully the real Easter Story is full of hope. Because the main character of the Easter story was dead, but is now alive, and that is what we celebrate this morning.
Last week a friend of mine came across a horrible discovery. When she was walking through the parking lot of a business customer of hers, she and several others came across the body of man who had apparently suffered a heart attack as he was coming to work.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, she knew the man who had died.
My friend was visibly shaken as she talked to me about it, as you can imagine.
She hadn’t planned on finding a dead person that day.
And my guess is that the man hadn’t planned on dying that day, either. I hope he was ready.
Like most people, I find myself contemplating death from time to time.
I don’t know when it’ll happen. It could be today, or depending on the pace of medical technology, I might live for another 100 years.
I had, for a number of years, had an irrational thought that I might not outlive Elvis.
Seriously! He died when he was 42. And as I neared that age, I wondered if I would make it past 42.
Well, I’ve passed it by a year, and I’ll be 44 later this year.
I have lots of questions about death. When will it happen, will it be painful, will it be under honorable circumstances, will I see it coming, will it be easy on my family or horribly traumatic? Lots of questions.
But one question I don’t have anymore is this: Will I be ready? That question has been answered, and I want everyone here today to have that answered for themselves before we leave here today.
We: Because I would venture to guess that every adult here, and maybe most of you younger folks have wondered about your death from time to time.
It can be kind of a depressing topic if we focus on it or obsess about it.
And I would also venture to guess that you have had some of the same questions I have, and maybe some different ones I haven’t thought of.
But do you have the answer to the question: Am I ready?
If you left this world today, would you be ready?
Most people aren’t ready. Many of those people think they are ready, but are in for a terrific shock when find themselves face to face with the living God.
God: The good news is that everyone can be ready. Everyone in here and everyone who hears what Jesus has done for them can be ready.
Everyone who chooses to trust in Jesus and what He did will be ready, and you have a choice you can make to be sure that you leave here today ready to spend eternity in heaven when you leave this earth.
1 Corinthians 15:12-20 (p. 815) –
12 But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. 15 More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 19 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.