Easter is that time in the Christian calendar when we set our sights on the very foundation, roots, essence, and core message of our faith: the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ, the Messiah, from the dead.
It is very easy, with all the cultural and religious trappings of the holiday, to turn Jesus and his resurrection from the dead into another mere myth. I want to say emphatically that the Gospel Message that Christians proclaim, is not good advice, it is not a mere way of seeing the world, is is not a philosophical system, is an announcement of a historic, factual event.
A man named Jesus lived in the region of Galilee, claimed to be God, was killed on a Roman cross for that claim, and three day slater, on a Sunday, he got up out of the tomb, alive, having risen from the dead. And if he did not actually do that, physically come back to life from death, and this is actually some sort of tall tale, or legend, mythologized story, then there is no Christianity. We should all go home. There is no reason to gather together this morning.
But I am here to proclaim to you this morning, as countless thousands of others have for centuries before me, that this is no myth. I am proclaiming to you this morning the most significant historical event ever to occur!
[READ: 1 Corinthians 15:1–8 ]
The resurrection of Jesus, the Christ, is the central fact of history, and it is the foundation of The Christian faith. If the Resurrection did not happen, historically and physically, then there is no Christian faith, and as Paul says here, we have believed "in vain". But it did happen, just as the Scriptures predicted it would and just as the scriptures said it did.
“In accordance with the Scriptures” means “in agreement with the Scriptures.” Paul was asserting, as Jesus did, that the Old Testament scriptures prophesied his death, burial, and resurrection on the Third Day, which it does. These events, had been predicted for thousands of years before they occurred, and the events occurred, exactly as predicted. Hundreds of prophecies were fulfilled by the events of Jesus’s life, death, and resurrection.
THE DIFFICULTY OF CONNECTING EMOTIONALLY WITH THE RESURRECTION
I was discussing this sermon with the pastors last week, and we were talking about how it can be hard to connect emotionally with the reality of the resurrection. Have you experienced that difficulty? For some of us, the story is so normal, it is part of our cultural fabric. “Jesus died for your sins. Jesus rose from the dead.” Are such familiar phrases that we can simply toss them aside without much thought or concern.
Perhaps for others of us, the thought of someone rising from the dead is so foreign to us, that we have no idea how to process it. We have no way to relate to it. It does not seem relevant to our lives at all.
And I’d like to acknowledge that it is possible for an event such as the resurrection to be totally irrelevant to us.
Think of it this way. If Phil the electrician from rural Ohio was died from an on-the-job accident, and later came back to life, that would be a strange and interesting story. One that you might even share on your Facebook wall with a comment like: “Wow! Check this out!”, and then go on looking at pictures of cats with funny captions. It would be an interesting piece of trivia. A historical oddity. But nothing terribly relevant to your life.
The resurrection of Jesus from the dead is not in any sense like that. What makes the resurrection of Jesus so important is not the resurrection itself. It is all about who was resurrected.
Jesus was not some random guy from nowhere.
Jesus performed miracles.
Jesus taught earth-shattering truths.
Jesus claimed to be God.
Jesus was killed for that claim.
…and this man who did these things came back to life after being tortured and executed.
When a man performs miracles, claims to be God, is killed for that claim, and rises from the dead, you should pay attention.
NEW TESTAMENT AS HISTORY
Another problem is our familiarity or lack thereof with the Bible itself. Like the phrases “Jesus rose from the dead”, we get all weird about this book. There is a sense in which we should approach this book as something wholly different than any other book in existence, it is, after all, the inerrant, accurate, clear Word from God Himself.
However, it is also an accurate record of the things it records. And the books of Luke and Acts specifically, are arguably the finest example of a Greco-Roman Historiography (a genre that records historical, factual events) in existence. The most well preserved, the most well attested, and the most accurate of any other of its kind.
It just also happens to be included with the canon of the Bible. My point is that just because it is Holy Scripture, does not exclude the fact that it is recording clear, true, real-life events, like any other history book (only better!)
We’re going to read about a few events and places today. And just to help bring this home for you,
- The tomb exists.
- The road to Emmaus is there.
- You can still go to Emmaus.
ACCORDING TO THE SCRIPTURES
I would like to spend the majority of the rest of my time this morning reading this historic account of actual events to you.
[Read: John 20:1–18]
[Read: Luke 24:13–49]
THE IMPLICATIONS OF THE RESURRECTION
We just finished a study of Peter’s first letter to the church. I’d like to trace his thoughts on the implications of the resurrection.
[Acts 2:22–24; 32-33, 36–47]
Repent and be Baptized.
Repent! Turn from your sins
We should understand Peter’s exhortation to repent as a call to turn from your life of rebellion against God. What does it look like when one turns to Him, and places themselves under His Kingship?
Be Baptized: Join the church
We should understand Peter’s command to be baptized as a call to join with The Church, God’s people, followers of Jesus. Keep reading in Acts, this is what happens with those that heard Peter’s call, a believed.
[READ: Acts 2:42-47]
Let me ask you a question: Do these things typify your understanding of Jesus’s church?
Peter’s description of the “elect”, the believer, The Christian
[READ: 1 Peter 1:3–9]
- Born again to a living hope
- Has an imperishable, unfading, undefiled inheritance
- Guarded by God’s power for salvation in the last time
- Rejoices in that inheritance and eventual salvation, even though now we suffer
- Loves Jesus
- Believes in Jesus
- Rejoices with joy that is imperishable and filled with glory
- Obtains the outcome of our faith: salvation
UNREPENTANT, BAPTIZED OR NOT: REPENT
Some of you in this room do not know God. You may call yourselves Christian, You might even show up at church on occasion, maybe even frequently, but Acts 2 and 1 Peter do not typify your life. Many of you have never repented. I urge you to REPENT. Turn away from your sin. There are many ways this sin manifests itself but the simplest way I can put it is this: wanting things your way, in your timing, and on your terms. Not God’s. Give it up. God’s ways are so much better than yours or mine. Go with you King.
REPENTANT, BAPTIZED: BE REFRESHED
And for my faithful brothers and sisters who have been here for years, let this Easter, which is really the beginning point of the year for the church, be an opportunity to REFRESH your commitment to our Lord and His body. My hope is that this sermon would REFRESH your vision for what we are up to here. We serve the magnificent, glorified, risen Christ Jesus, the Son of God who is on a throne in heaven. Never lose sight of The Perfect Lamb who was slain in our place, for our sin, setting us free from our slavery to sin, and saving us from the wrath of God’s judgement. Let the JOY of that news fuel your year.
This is easy to fix. Let’s take care of that ASAP.