Summary: An Easter sermon
It was June 18, 1815 --- the Battle of Waterloo. The French under the command of Napoleon were fighting the allied forces of the British, Dutch, and Germans under the command of General Wellington. The people of England depended on a system of signals to find out how the battle was going. One of these signals was on the tower of Winchester Cathedral.
Late in the day it flashed the signal: “W-E-L-L-I-N-G-T-O-N---D-E-F-E-A-T-E-D---.” Just at that moment a fog cloud made it impossible to read the message. The news of defeat quickly spread throughout the city. The whole countryside was sad and gloomy when they heard the news that their country had lost the war. Suddenly, the fog lifted, and the remainder of the message could be read. The message had four words, not two. The complete message was: “W-E-L-L-I-N-G-T-O-N---D-E-F-E-A-T-E-D---T-H-E---E-N-E-M-Y!” It took only a few minutes for the good news to spread. Sorrow was turned into joy; defeat was turned into victory!
So it was when Jesus was buried in the tomb. Hope had died in the hearts of Jesus’ most loyal followers. After the frightful crucifixion, the fog of disappointment and misunderstanding had crept in on them. They had read only part of the message. “Christ defeated” was all they knew. But then on the third day the fog lifted, and the world received the complete message: “Christ defeated death!” Sorrow was turned into joy; death was turned into life!
1 Corinthians 15:1-20; 51-58
I. TO ME, EASTER MEANS GOOD NEWS.
One of the differences between Christianity and ever other religion is that their founders are dead. Our founder, the Lord Jesus Christ, rose from the grave and is alive today. At the tombs of Mohammed and Confucius and Buddha and all the others, we read, “Here he lies.” But when we go to the tomb of Jesus, the words of the angel ring out in our ears, “He is not here; he has risen!”
A. It’s good news that the tomb is empty.
“And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless. . . .” (v. 14a)
The message that Paul preached was the gospel of Jesus Christ. He tells us what the gospel is in verses 3 and 4: “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.”
The word “gospel” means “good news.” But if the resurrection is taken from the gospel, we are left with sad news, not good news.
D. L. Moody, the great evangelist of the nineteenth century, assigned some ministerial students to conduct evangelistic tent meetings throughout the city of Chicago. The students were to preach nightly sermons as a means of winning souls for Christ and to practice their preaching. Dr. Moody personally showed up one night unannounced at one of the meeting places to hear one of his fledgling young ministers preach the gospel. The young mad did quite well expounding on the death of Christ on the cross for the sins of the world. At the close of the service, he announced that everyone should come back the next night when he would “preach on the resurrection of Christ.”
After the people left, Moody said, “Young man, you will not be back tomorrow night! Many of these people will not be back tomorrow night and consequently have only heard half the gospel!”
Mr. Moody might have been a little hard on the young student, but what he said is true: The cross of Christ is only half the gospel. And half a gospel is not good news! Romans 4:25 says that Christ “was delivered over to death for our sins and raised to life for our justification.”
B. It’s good news that we can trust in what Jesus says.
Christ predicted His resurrection on several occasions. At first He used only vague terms, such as “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days” (John 2:19). John writes that “the temple he had spoken of was his body” (v. 21).
Later on in His ministry He spoke more plainly. Matthew writes, “From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life” (Matt. 16:21).
Jesus declared in Matthew 12:40: “As Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three night in the heart of the earth.”
And later in 20:18-19 Jesus predicted, “We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will turn him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day he will be raised to life!”