Summary: Fundamentally, Easter is a missionary message
Title: You are my witness
MP: Easter implies that we are his witnesses
SO: I want to begin laying a ground work for understanding our missionary role (picking up on this around Pentecost)
Easter Sunday is hard for me, because every year I feel the need to prove something we already know: that Christ has risen from the dead. The evidence is all around us. Frankly if you’re here this early on a Sunday morning, you either believe it or else have an unhealthy ability to get out of bed! Wherever we see Christ preached, in word or in deed, we know that Christ risen from the dead.
But like me, I suspect you’ve heard the same old proofs. If you attend more than one service this morning, you’ll probably hear the preacher set up the “Swoon Theory,” positing that perhaps Jesus hadn’t actually died on the cross, but only fainted. And then the response will come. If somebody tries to tell you that, maybe you should whip them within an inch of their life, pound thorns and nails into their flesh, hang them so they can’t breathe for six hours, and then thrust a spear into them. After that, lock them in an airtight chamber and see if they can roll away a six ton boulder. Oh yeah, Jesus was dead alright. And the preacher will be correct.
Or, maybe you’ll hear the “conspiracy theory.” Like a good detective novel, they’ll try to suggest that the Resurrection was nothing more than a good conspiracy crime waiting to be unraveled. But, then you have to think about means, opportunity, and motive. Maybe the body was just stolen? But who would have had the chance? Or, maybe the disciples just made a compact – but how then is it that each of the eleven would go on to face horrible deaths and have nobody slip?
If you need more, frankly you can read the book The Case for the Resurrection by Lee Stroebel. They’re good arguments. There’s more from where that came from. But again, I suspect you’ve heard them before. And please, don’t be annoyed if I’m the preacher doing that next year. These are all true, they’re all important, but they’re not what the Spirit has placed on my heart this morning.
So, if I’m not going to try to convince you of what you already know, why then am I preaching from the Resurrection? Why am I so concerned that you see the whole story that I printed two pages in the bulletin? Because how we got the story of Jesus’ resurrection is almost as important as the message itself.
You see, fundamentally, Easter is a missionary message. At its heart, Easter is a story of people telling the story of Easter. Jesus coming back from the dead was a miracle. But it was a miracle that transcends being a simple fact.
It is the true story that says something about a true God. Not only is it a story of his power, it’s a story of his love. And that love is just for you or me, it’s for his entire creation. It’s a miracle that is personal story that demands we share it. We cannot keep it to ourselves.
I am going to assume that you know that in fact, Jesus died and then rose again. You’ve been through enough of Easter to know that. But how is it that we learned of Jesus’ resurrection? Who first told us that Jesus had risen from the dead?
We won’t be reading all of Luke 24 this morning, but we will be summarizing it, so if you have your Bible, be looking there, or in your bulletin. Knowing this story is the first part of being able to share it.
… trans …
If you’re like me, you must be in awe of the responsibility of being the first. Albert Einstein was the first to tell us about higher physics and relativity and even the atom bomb. Look at how formidable he was! And it was one of the stature of a founding father – no less than Thomas Jefferson who first bore witness in writing to the fact that all men are created equal, and that they are endowed by the Creator with certain inalienable rights. An imposing figure he was!
So what grand and towering figure first bore witness to the resurrection? Some garrulous old ladies. The forgotten castoffs of Jewish society. In a culture where women couldn’t make a name for themselves if they tried, Luke names three of them who first bore witness to the fact that changed more history than anything else. Joanna, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James.