Summary: As we contemplate the resurrection, we need to pause and reflect about what happened and what it all means to us
The Significance of Easter
Note: The illustrations in this sermon come from Sermon Central, as noted below.
1. Because Easter is such an important day, our elders met and decided, "You know, we want to get a really special speaker. Why don’t we call the best preacher in the state and ask him to speak."
And they did and he said "No".
So they said, "Well, if we can’t have the best speaker, at least we can get the smartest one."
So they called him and he said "No".
And then they said, "Well, if we can’t get the best or the smartest, at least we can get the best-looking."
And they called him and he said "No".
And finally one of them said, "Well, we can always ask our preacher." And so they did.
And what could I say, I’d already told them "no" three times? (palms up shrug)
[source: Ken Kersten, Sermon Central, altered]
2. Easter Sunday is a special celebration, for the Resurrection of Christ confirmed that our sin debt had been paid on the cross. Christ died as a sacrifice for our sin, an innocent victim; He rose as the conqueror, the Victor.
Main Idea: As we contemplate the resurrection, we need to pause and reflect about what happened and what it all means to us.
I. What Happened: The Events of RESURRECTION Sunday
A. The Gospels Offer PARTIAL Information
B. Putting them together gives us a HARMONIZATION
1. Christ rises from the dead very early Sunday morning. A violent earthquake and an angel rolling away the stone and sitting upon it accompany this event. The guards are traumatized because they have seen this angel, and they freeze (Matthew 28:2-4).
2. Mary Magdalene and another Mary either walk to the tomb together or they had planned to meet there. When she (or they) arrives, the stone has been rolled away. (The guards are gone by now.) She returns to find Peter and John and tells them that someone has moved Jesus’ body (John 20:1-2; Matthew 28:1).
3. Another group of women were scheduled to meet the two Marys at the tomb. They have acquired spices to complete the burial process, which had been hurried. They are concerned about finding some men to help roll the stone away, since it was large and needed to be rolled against gravity. To their surprise, these women see two angels, only one of which speaks, telling them that Jesus has been raised. The women are scared to death and leave [seeing angels has this effect] (Mark 16:2-8; Luke 24:1-8, Matthew 28:5-8).
4. Peter and John arrive after being summoned by Mary Magdalene, who also follows them back. John looks into the tomb, but Peter goes inside. All he finds are the burial clothes. They return, confused, but Mary Magdalene stays at the tomb to grieve because she believes someone has removed Jesus’ body (Luke 24:12, John 20:3-10).
5. Jesus makes His first appearance to Mary Magdalene, after Peter and John have left. At first she supposes Him to be the gardener, but she is then overjoyed to realize that it is the Lord (John 20:11-17, Mark 16:9).
6. Jesus then appears to these other women who had left before Peter and John had arrived. These are the women who saw the angels. Jesus tells them to communicate that the disciples were to prepare to travel to Galilee (Matthew 28:9-10).
8. The Roman guards report what they had witnessed to the chief priests. They were bribed to say that someone stole the body of Jesus while they were asleep. The priests promised the soldiers protection from military discipline through their clout (Matthew 28:11-15).
11. Jesus appeared to the ten apostles, (Mark 16:14, Luke 24:36-43, John 20:19-25) either while Cleopas and his friend were still there or afterward. The eleven apostles are discussing this claim during the evening of that same Easter day. They had the doors locked, fearful that the Jews might plot against them and arrest them. They presume He is a ghost. He encourages them to look at His hands, feet, and side. He insists that they touch them. But this still does not convince the apostles that He is really risen. He eats with them, and the reality of the resurrection registers with them. They are overjoyed. Jesus breathes the Holy Spirit upon them.