This Easter morning people around the world are observing this holiday. Children are searching for hidden eggs, gnawing on chocolate bunnies, and families are preparing food that will be more than sufficient for a King or queen? Families will gather together albeit virtually for many because Easter is all about family, right? Well, not really. For Christians the true purpose of Easter is to reflect on what Jesus accomplished through His death and to celebrate the life we receive as a result of the savior’s resurrection. If you grew up in a traditional Catholic, Anglican, Orthodox or Lurtheran church you may remember the Paschal greeting which goes like this… The pastor announces, “He is risen!” To which the congregation responds, “He is risen indeed!” This is a tradition that goes back many, many centuries and is a wonderful way to greet Christian brothers and sisters on Easter morning. So, I say to you this morning… “He is risen!”
For Christians Easter is the most significant day we observe in the calendar year. It is the pinnacle (if you will) of God’s plan of redemption. The events of Easter through Jesus fully restores true fellowship with God and humanity that was broken at the beginning in the garden as a result of sin. Jesus’ death and resurrection are what we look to during the Easter season as our greatest hope. For those who observe and participate in Lent know that these past forty days was is observed and practiced in preparation for this day.
For others Easter has no spiritual value whatsoever; it is only a day that is set aside to spend with family or loved ones (which is a good thing), eating ham, hiding Easter eggs, and chomping on chocolate bunny ears. For the unbeliever the significance of the resurrection may be nothing more than a story, myth or conspiracy theory thought up by early Christians to gain power, wealth and control over the masses. For unbelievers the resurrection is a myth, a crutch or a joke.
For us who believe and are fully committed to Jesus Christ we do not observe or enter into this this day casually. In fact, we put all of hope in the truth that Jesus Christ died on a cross and rose from the dead thus conquering sin and death. We have placed all of our faith in the reality that the resurrection of Jesus makes is the foundational hope of our future resurrection. When we proclaim the Paschal greeting to one another we are not just muttering empty words; we are proclaiming the Gospel (the Good News) of Jesus Christ. We proclaim a risen Jesus who has ascended to the Father for our justification as the Good News. In fact, the Gospel is GREAT NEWS, and it is the only news worthy of declaring to bring hope to all who believe!
The Cross of Christ
If you have your Bibles, go to 1 Corinthians 2:1-5 as we will be spending some time in this passage. The Apostle Paul writes, “When I came to you, brothers and sisters, announcing the mystery of God to you, I did not come with brilliance of speech or wisdom. 2 I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3 I came to you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. 4 My speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of wisdom but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, 5 so that your faith might not be based on human wisdom but on God’s power.” Paul did not come to Corinth with eloquent words and heady wisdom. No, he had a simple message; the message of the cross. Paul calls it a simple message because the cross (Jesus Christ and him crucified) is central to the Gospel message. Our faith is grounded in the cross of Jesus Christ, without the death of Jesus there is no atonement for sin. Paul’s desire was to preach this simple and central message to them through the power of the Holy Spirit.
May we never forget the significance of the cross. Sadly, more and more Christians talk about the cross of Jesus Christ with apathy or as an everyday common ordinary occurrence. I have heard Christians speak about the cross lightly and sometimes with indifference. I hear people say, “We’ve already heard about the cross of Jesus, tell us something new. Give us some creative and well thought out wisdom as to how we can become better people and thus help us become better Christians.” They have forgotten the seriousness of the cross of Christ. Too often they make Christianity about them and they fail to truly acknowledge it is about Jesus and what He has done. Sometimes they overlook or become bored with the message of the suffering He faced, and the agonizing price He paid so that all who believe could have eternal life and redemption. My friends, may we never get to this point in our Christianity.
When I think of what Jesus did on the cross of Calvary, and I try to get my brain around what he did it humbles me. Why does it humble me? Why would the message of the cross humble anyone? What is the purpose of the cross of Christ? Why did Jesus have to face such an agonizing and humiliating death? Simply because the cross points me to my sin, my life here on earth, and my eternal destiny.
The Bible records that all are sinners and that no one is righteous before our holy God. Sin has separated us from God. If this is true then we are worthy of one thing… death… eternal separation from God. You may be thinking, “Hey, Jeff this is Easter! Can’t you be a bit more positive? Aren’t you being a bit extreme? I mean know I’m not perfect, and I have my human inadequacies, but I’m not that bad of a person. I pray sometimes, I attend Church regularly, and I never ever take the Lord’s name in vain.” The truth is we are ALL sinners and the sin nature we inherit makes worthy of death. No good deeds are enough to declare us righteous before our holy God.
There is good news though; the Bible says, “God loved us so much that He gave His only begotten Son (Jesus as a sacrifice and atonement for our sins) that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.” This is the core of the Good News of the Gospel! We don’t deserve forgiveness, eternal life, or even to be declared righteous, yet He gives them all to us who respond to the Holy Spirit drawing us to the Father and repent of the sins and are called by God to become his children.
Thankfully the Gospel does not end with Jesus dead in the tomb. The news gets better! 1 Corinthians 15:3 - 8 tells us, “3 For I passed on to you as most important what I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the Twelve. 6 Then he appeared to over five hundred brothers and sisters at one time; most of them are still alive, but some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8 Last of all, as to one born at the wrong time, he also appeared to me. After three days in the grave Jesus conquered death and rose from the dead. He didn’t raise in spirit; He physically rose from the dead and ascended to the right hand of the Father. This means one thing… He is alive today! Sinful humanity tried to kill him; the devil tried to conquer Him, but death couldn’t contain Him.
The resurrection of Jesus is just as essential to our faith as his death. Some may say, “Wait a minute! The death stuff I can buy, but I don’t know if I can buy this resurrection story?” How essential is the resurrection of Christ to us today? It is ABSOLUTELY essential! 1 Corinthians 15:14 -17 “14 and if Christ has not been raised, then our proclamation is in vain, and so is your faith.[a] 15 Moreover, we are found to be false witnesses about God, because we have testified wrongly about God that he raised up Christ—whom he did not raise up, if in fact the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins.” Without the resurrection, we have nothing. Worshiping of a dead god is the same as having a dead faith. If you don’t believe Jesus is alive today, then you are wasting your time calling yourself a Christian because you are not one. If you can’t buy the resurrection then your sins have not been forgiven… Paul says, “you are still in your sins.”
Christ rose from the dead to show that He has conquered the dominion of death and the sins of this world. Through his resurrection we can experience the power over death and sin in our lives.
5 Reasons the Resurrection is Essential to Our Faith…
Why is the resurrection important to us? What does the resurrection mean to us? Why is His death significant to me? Here are five reasons…
Knowing Jesus lived, died and rose again so that we can live; die and rise again should give us all hope, strength, faith and a desire to live fully for Him today, tomorrow and the days to come. He died willingly and rose from the grave for His us so we may have forgiven of our sins and receive life and to have it abundantly. This is a promise given to us by the Savior. Since Jesus is victorious over death, we also are victorious over death.
 Carson, D. A. (1994). New Bible commentary : 21st century edition (4th ed.) (Ro 4:1–25). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, Ill., USA: Inter-Varsity Press.
Jeff has been in full-time ministry for thirty years. He currently serves as Executive Director at Anchor House Ministry at SeaPort Manatee in Palmetto, FL and he is a part-time Campus Pastor at West Bradenton Southside in Bradenton, Florida.
Jeff Has authored A Lent Devotional (A Spiritual Journey to Lent) an Advent Devotional (The Advent of Jesus) and a devotional on the book of James (James: Where Faith and Life Meet). All three are available on Amazon.
He is married to Carrie and they have four children, Micaiah, Gabe, Simon, and Berea.
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