Summary: The consequences of the resurrection for a young adult audience – the outline of which is largely "borrowed" from Bill Hybels at the Willow Creek website.
The If/Thens of Easter
by Mike Sares
It’s Easter time. Time to eat all the candy and marshmallow eggs. Time to pig out. There’s gotta be a nicer word for pig out. A euphemism, as it were. Hey, try to think up a nicer word for euphemism. And while you’re at it, think up a shorter word for abbreviation. And a synonym for Thesaurus. And why is it that doctors call what they do "practice"? Why is it that to stop Microsoft Windows, you have to click on "Start"? Why is lemon juice made with artificial flavor, and dishwashing liquid made with real lemons? Why is the man who invests all your money called a broker? Why is the time of day with the slowest traffic called rush hour? Why isn’t there mouse-flavored cat food? Why do they sterilize the needle for lethal injections? Why don’t you ever see the headline, "Psychic Wins Lottery"? Why are there Braille labels at drive-up ATMs? Why are they called apartments when they are all stuck together? Why can’t women put on mascara with their mouths closed? And why is the resurrection of Jesus Christ such a big deal?
I mean, there’s gotta be an if/then relationship. If Jesus rose from the dead ... then what? We deal with if/then statements every day. For example, Chris Baker said at one point in his life, "If I go to medical school, then I can be a doctor." Columbus said, "If the world is round, then I can get to the East by sailing west." Enrico Fermi said, "If we can just split the atom, then it’s gonna produce a whole lot of energy." Bill Gates said, "If I copied the Apple-Macintosh desktop, then people would like Microsoft Windows more." Keith Hoerig said, "If I learn to play the bass guitar, then I can get hot chicks."
So ... what’s the big if/then statement for the resurrection? If Jesus rose from the dead ... then what? What are the implications? Does it affect my life more than the fact that I live in 2002 “A.D.”? If Jesus Christ rose from the dead, then does that affect what time I get up in the morning? If Jesus rose from the dead, then does it affect my situation at school or what’s going to happen at work tomorrow? If Jesus rose from the dead, then does it affect what T. Rex will do to Interstate 25, and what kind of season the Broncos will have this year?
My guess is that a lot of you are silently agreeing with me because you’re not sure. And if you’re here at church and you’re not sure, the people you know who don’t go to church are even less aware of why Jesus rising from the dead would have any impact in their lives. The Apostle Paul went out of his way to stress the importance of the resurrection to his friends in the Church at Corinth:
1Corinthians 15:1-8, 17-20
Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.
For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born...
And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men. But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead...
So, I’ve got four if/then statements for the resurrection. Some of you will not approve of some of them because they will seem like audacious claims. But I’m not going to candy-coat them for you this Easter. I’m just going to tell it like it is. Here’s the first “if/then” statement.
1. If Jesus rose from the dead, then Christianity is true and every other religion is false. Let’s face it. Of all the claims which Jesus made, rising from the dead was the most stupendous. On several occasions, Jesus said he would die and then come back to life. Sometimes he said it subtly with metaphor: