Summary: As Christians and seekers, our faith and future stands or falls on the resurrection of Jesus.
A good name is better than fine perfume, and the day of death better than the day of birth. - Ecclesiastes 7:1
23I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; 24but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. 25Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, - Philippians 1:23-25
Greg Laurie, pastor of Harvest Church in Riverside, California, was having lunch with Billy Graham. Ruth, Billy’s wife, had made a classic southern lunch of fried chicken, collard greens, and the works. It was Greg’s first time to meet Billy Graham; he was nervous. Greg says, “I had many questions swimming through my mind.” One question stood out: “Billy, if you knew as a younger preacher what you know today, would you emphasize anything more as a younger preacher that you find yourself emphasizing today?” Without missing a beat, Billy Graham responded, “I would preach more on the cross and on the blood. That is where the power is.” 1
This power that Billy Graham is speaking of is what Paul referred to in Philippians 3:10 as the message of Easter.
10I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. Philippians 3:10 - 11
The message of Easter – it’s wrapped up in those two verses. Simple and life changing, it offers eternal hope for all who believe.
We live in the “politically correct” age of avoiding straight talk and reality. We have become so cautious of how we phrase our statements that we often fail to give the truth. Statements that have a touch of harshness or a sharp edge are often replaced with softer diplomatic terms so as not to tick people off. Words such as sin have almost been whitened out of the dictionary. In hospital circles where people are dying you rarely hear a medical professional use the word dead. When I visited with the doctors and nurses that cared for my dad before he passed away, I was shocked with the struggle they had to use the word death in our discussions. We dumb down cancer. We redefine people and behaviors with terms such as “alternative lifestyle.” Why? Humans prefer to be deceived and lied to rather than told the truth. T.S. Elliot said it best, “humans cannot bear too much reality.”2 When it comes to reality we must make sure we get it right at Easter because our whole future is at stake.
Cosmetic surgery, airbrushed photos, it’s hard to find out what is real these days. More than ever we must find and follow truth regardless of the blow we take to the head.
There is only one place to look where sin is called sin, a spade is called a spade, and adultery is treated as adultery. The Bible is the only book that tells it like it really is. No one gets off the hook because of privilege. Each story paints a graphic picture of the shortcomings of the players. No other book helps us come to grips with reality better than the Bible. The Bible never minimizes. The Bible never redefines. The Bible never looks the other way.
Someone has said, “We should only read books that bite and sting us.” He went on to say, “If reading it does not arouse us with a blow to the head, then why read it?”3 When we read God’s word we get a lot of blows to the head. This Easter I feel compelled to draw our attention to the resurrection by tying it to one of these “blows to the head” texts that comes from the life of Solomon.
I don’t know of any more realistic account of man’s struggles than the book of Ecclesiastes. Chapter after chapter the writer goes right for the jugular, exposing our excuses and missteps in full, living color. Solomon reminds us of this simple truth in life - some people with the greatest talents never quite measure up and fully use those talents. Solomon was such an individual.
The first three chapters of the book of Ecclesiastes are characterized by the phrase, “I have seen” and “I said to myself” and underscore a life driven by a human perspective not a heavenly perspective. In Solomon’s journal, which we call the book of Ecclesiastes, he sees everything as barren and a big waste of time (futile emptiness). His mental outlook on life is not sad - he is downright mad. He looks over life and sees nothing but injustice piled upon injustice.