On this Easter morning, we gather to celebrate the greatest event in Christian history - the resurrection of Jesus Christ. This holiest of days signifies the victory of life over death, hope over despair, and joy over sadness. Today we will spend some time in John chapter 20 and Ephesians 4:21 – 30. In these passages, we are reminded of the incredible power of God through the resurrection, the incredible gift of forgiveness of sins through the sacrifice of Jesus, and the celebration of the newness of life in Jesus Christ.
It was early Sunday morning, and it was still dark. Mary Magdalene, a faithful follower of Jesus, went to the tomb where Jesus was placed after his death with some other women. Although John does not mention these other women in his gospel, the other three gospel writers mention that they had all come to take care of the body of Jesus.
When Mary came upon the tomb, she noticed that the large stone at the entrance of the tomb had been rolled away. This was concerning to her because the tomb was under guard by the order of Pontius Pilate and was sealed with Pilate's seal of authority. It should have been exactly how it was left when Jesus was buried. Concerned, she immediately went to find Peter and presumably John.
The disciples and Mary naturally assumed that Jesus’ body had been stolen or moved. Immediately both Peter and John ran to the tomb to observe. John showed up first, but it was Peter who first entered the empty tomb. In most instances, a tomb or cave opening was only 3 feet high, and a grown adult would have to crawl in through this small opening. Peter went in and noticed that the burial clothes were there, but the face cloth (kind of like a handkerchief) was not with the rest of the clothes but in a separate place. John followed Peter, and when he entered the empty tomb,
Vs 8: “Then the disciple who had reached the tomb first also went in, and he saw and believed”
Jesus’ body had not been stolen, it had not been misplaced, nor had it been hidden. The body of Jesus had been resurrected, and He was fully alive! Just like he had predicted. Jesus approached Mary and revealed himself to her, and she went out to tell the others about the risen savior. Eventually, Jesus showed himself to the rest of the disciples and showed them his wounds. They rejoiced as they encountered their risen friend, savior, and Messiah. Jesus was ALIVE!
This is the message of Easter.
However, Easter morning is not so much about death as it is about life! Sure, PART of the Easter account is about the death of Jesus the sacrificial Lamb who gave his life so we could have life. But Easter is about life, celebration, joy, and hope in our resurrected Savior! It covers these four truths.
Paul writes about the new life believers have in Christ. With a renewed mind in the Spirit, the old nature is gone, and the new nature has been put on through the resurrection. The passage goes on to detail some attributes of the new life, including the call to speak truth to one another and refrain from living in lies. As people of the truth, believers are called to live in honesty and integrity.
However, not only does the new nature call for truthfulness, but it also calls for control over one's anger. Anger is often unhealthy and can be directly related to the old self, which should not rule the life of a true believer. Christian theologian John Walvoord warns against allowing anger to control us and advises us to "keep short accounts," dealing with anger before the sun goes down. Unchecked or unresolved anger can lead to bitterness and hatred. Therefore, believers must control their anger through the power of the Holy Spirit within them.
In essence, Paul reminds believers that the new life in Christ calls for a transformation of the mind, resulting in honesty and control over negative emotions such as anger. By doing so, believers can live a life that reflects the nature of Christ and avoid being controlled by the old self.
Vs 28-30: As a new creation in Christ, we are called to live in opposition to our old life. Paul uses the example of a thief who once stole for a living but now works hard to earn a living. Our new life impacts all aspects of our lives, including our speech. We are no longer to use foul or abusive language, which destroys and demeans others. Instead, we should use language that encourages and builds others up. Those who are not new creations in Christ do not bridle their tongues and use their words as a weapon to harm others. But as new creations, we should use our words to edify and build up.
Vs 31: As new creations in Christ, we are to get rid of bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words/quarrelsome behavior, slander, and evil behavior. These qualities are not part of our new life in Christ but are traits of our old life.
Vs 32: Instead of harboring negative qualities, a person with the new life in Christ is kind, quick to forgive, and treats others with dignity and respect. They are tenderhearted, gentle, patient, and sympathetic to others. They also forgive those who seek it, just as God has forgiven us.
Becoming a new creation in Christ means living differently than we did before. We should intentionally show kindness, be tenderhearted to those around us, and forgive others. We must strive to live as Jesus did, and we can only do so through the power of the Holy Spirit.
As we reflect on this Easter morning and namely the resurrection of Jesus Christ, it is important to remember that the hope we have in Him extends beyond this earthly life. We can live abundantly for the Lord here on earth, but this life is not all we have. The Good News of Jesus Christ gives us the promise of eternal life with Him in heaven. When we have faith in Jesus Christ, we can face death without fear because we know that we will be with Him forever. This hope should inspire us to live our lives to the fullest for Him here on earth, using our talents and abilities to bring glory to His name.
The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the ultimate expression of God's love for His children. Jesus willingly died for our sins, so that we may have eternal life with Him. This sacrifice should give us the strength, faith, and hope to live our lives fully for Him. It is a reminder of the incredible love that God has for us and the lengths that He will go to ensure that we can spend eternity with Him.
In conclusion, Easter morning reminds us of the hope we have in Jesus Christ. As we celebrate His resurrection, let us live our lives fully for Him and use our time and resources to make a positive impact in the world. Let us be inspired by the love of God and share this message of hope with others, so that they too may come to know the peace and joy that comes from a relationship with Him.
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Jeff has been in ministry for well over two decades. He currently serves as Campus Pastor at West Bradenton Baptist Southside Campus in Bradenton, Florida.
Jeff Has authored an Advent Devotional (The Advent of Jesus) and a devotional on the book of James (James: Where Faith and Life Meet). Both are available on Amazon.
He is married to Carrie and they have four children, Micaiah, Gabe, Simon, and Berea.
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