Summary: The real meaning of Easter escapes us. Can we recapture it?
THE MEANING OF EASTER
INTRO: What is the meaning of Easter? Ask any child: “Easter is Easter bunnies and Easter eggs.” Ask any mother: “Easter is new Easter clothes.” Ask any dad: “Easter is a good Easter dinner.”
Is the preacher the only one who responds, “Easter is the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection!”? We have turned from an empty tomb to an Easter egg, and the symbol of the Easter bunny has displaced the cross. The real meaning of Easter escapes us. Can we recapture it?
I. EASTER MEANS CHRIST IS LORD (v. 6).
The angel at the tomb told the women, “He is not here: for He is risen” (v. 6). If Easter means anything, it means Jesus Christ is Lord. He has authority over life, death and salvation.
The Scriptures stress that Jesus actually rose from the dead. The apostle Paul declared this fact as the basis of his personal faith and listed as proof many eyewitnesses of Christ’s resurrection (1 Cor. 15:5-8). The empty tomb convinced Jesus’ disciples of His lordship, for He was “declared to be the Son of God with power, by the resurrection from the dead” (Rom. 1:4). If His body had remained in Joseph’s family plot, another prophet would have passed this way, but no Savior.
The message of Easter is that Jesus is alive. Christ is our living Lord. He has the power to resurrect us from “death unto life” (John 5:24).
ILLUS: To carry the news of the Battle of Waterloo to England, a sailing ship signaled to a man on shore, who relayed the word to another on a hill, and so on across Britain. The first word, Wellington, was signaled. The next word was defeated. Then a fog closed in, and the message halted.
Across England people wept over the message. “Wellington defeated.” Then the fog lifted. The communication continued with two additional words: “the enemy.” Englishmen celebrated the victory.
There was great sorrow when the body of Jesus was carried from the cross to the tomb. The signal seemed to say, “Jesus Christ defeated.” But three days later the fog lifted and the angel announced, “Jesus Christ defeated the enemy.”
II. EASTER MEANS MAN HAS MAJESTY (v. 7).
The first visitors to the tomb were instructed, “Go quickly and tell His disciples” (v. 7). The baffled believers needed to know not only for understanding, but also to remind them their resurrection was inseparable from His. “Christ the firstfruits” (1 Cor. 15:23) was Paul’s way of affirming that Jesus’ victory over death is our triumph also.
Jesus came to bring life — new spiritual life to all who believed (John 10:10). His resurrection is both a promise and provision. To know Christ personally means to be resurrected with Him (Rom. 6:4-6) and to live with a higher morality (Col. 3:10-17). Easter means that any person may become a child of God through the resurrection power of Christ (2 Cor. 5:17).
ILLUS: At the close of WWI, the French Army had hundreds of soldiers suffering from amnesia because of shell shock. A faulty record system lost the identity of these war victims.
To find their families and return them to their homes, an “Identification Rally” was scheduled in Paris. Thousands of relatives of the missing gathered in a great plaza. One by one, the men were led to a central platform to speak these words: “Is there anyone here who can tell me who I am?”
Jesus Christ died and rose again to tell us who we really are: sons of GOD!
III. EASTER MEANS LIFE HAS MEANING (v. 10).
To the worshiping women, the risen Christ said, “Go and tell my brethren to go to Galilee” (v. 10, RSV). The mission of the twelve continued.
Through man’s disobedience sin entered the world. A contagious germ contaminated human history. The real meaning and purpose of life was perverted. A second Adam was needed to transform this tragedy into triumph. The death and resurrection of Christ restored to fallen mankind the means to rediscover and fulfill life’s purpose.
CONC: “The Christ event”, writes William Hull, “began with life from an empty womb and ended with life from an empty tomb. Empty womb, empty tomb — what is this if not a description of the God who creates things that are, out of things that are not and who can make dead things come to life again.”
This indeed is the meaning of Easter. Christ alive in you!