Summary: We can draw from the appearance of Jesus to his disciples in the upper room on Resurrection Sunday four applications of Easter: peace, joy, hope, and mission.
Seven PM, Easter, 29 A.D.
It was Easter Sunday for the Ibuga Christians of Western Tanzania. In one village, a large crowd had gathered to worship. Many came out of curiosity to hear about a God who conquered death. While they were singing and praising God, they didn't know the danger that awaited them. At that moment, a crazed mother lion was stalking their village, not killing to eat, but just killing every living thing in sight. She killed several goats, cows, and a woman with a small child. Then she turned toward the singing worshipers. When they saw her standing ready to charge, the crowd froze in fear. The village preacher shouted, "Pray, people, because we're worshipping a living Lord. The God who locked the lions' jaws for Daniel is here today!" Then he turned to the lion and said, "You lion, I curse you in the name of the living Lord Jesus Christ."
That day had been partially cloudy, but with no storm. Suddenly, a lightening bolt struck the lion, and she immediately fell dead! The tribal pastor ran over, jumped up and down on the carcass, and used it as a platform for his preaching. Before he could give an invitation, 11 people came forward immediately to be saved as did many others in the hours that followed.
They still call it the Easter miracle in Tanzania. But, a far greater miracle had already taken place nearly 2,000 years ago. Women, sad from the death of their leader and friend, approached his tomb in grief. Suddenly, an angel appeared and said Jesus had arisen victorious over the roaring lion and his ally, death. Now, let's look at "the rest of the story" in Luke 24:33-48.
Last week, I heard a church growth expert say today's baby boomers and baby busters are action oriented. They respond better to sermons that challenge them to get involved and make a difference in the world. I thought about this sermon and imagined the 90's generation asking: "Easter happened; so what? If it were true, what difference will it make in my life tomorrow?"
So, I want us to get a practical application of Easter. The best place to look is at the first application after Easter was over. You recall that our Christian calendar is off about 4 years. So, Jesus was probably born in 4 B.C. That makes the date of his crucifixion and resurrection around 29 A.D.
If you look at Luke 24:33 you'll see, after Jesus appeared to the 2 on the Emmaus Road, he went to eat the evening meal with them. The Jewish evening meal was traditionally at sundown or about 6 PM. At sundown the day ended and a new day began. Immediately after they recognized Jesus, he disappeared; and we're told they left that same hour to go to Jerusalem. The upper room where the disciples were gathered was about 7 miles away. This would put it about 7 PM when Jesus appeared to the believers there. They were behind closed doors for fear of the Jews when their Easter miracle happened.
So, at about 7 PM, Easter, 29 A.D. we have the first application after Easter. From that event, we can see that Easter brings 4 qualities to make a difference in our lives tomorrow:
1. Peace, V. 36
Jesus knew they were confused and frightened. He always understands our feelings, so he said in verse 36, "Peace be unto you." This is the first and immediate application of Easter: Peace. Everyone wants peace of mind. If you're afraid or worried, you can't think straight and you aren't yourself. For lack of peace men pine away. A lack of peace can drive people to commit terrible deeds, drive them to alcohol or drugs, or even to insanity. Tradition tells us the fate of Governor Pilate who could have released Jesus but washed his hands of the matter. Supposedly, he died in an insane asylum trying to wash invisible blood off his hands!
But, at peace with themselves, people can stand alone against great odds. They write songs about being able to pursue impossible dreams, climb every mountain, fly with the bluebirds beyond the rainbow! Think of the headaches and stomachaches you'd miss, the doctor bills you wouldn't have to pay, and the medicine you could throw away if you had perfect peace.
Peace of mind with oneself is a wonderful gift, but peace with God is even better! Easter also brings peace with God. When you believe in Easter you believe in God's Son who arose on Easter. If you know Easter is true, you make your peace with Jesus, because as surely as he arose, he's coming again for you. When you receive his gospel you have good news: You don't have to fear death; the grave is not the end; you've already passed your judgement test with God. Do you have that peace? If you apply Easter's peace today, tomorrow you can face your work or your plans with calmness, serenity, assurance, and confidence. You will know that whatever you and God undertake will ultimately work out for your good.