Friends

This coming Sunday we are starting a new series for Easter, called “What Jesus did for you!” 

Easter is not about brightly colored eggs, wearing pastels, or enjoying a big meal, although it could include these.  For some, Easter will be a great day, spent surrounded by family and friends.  But for others, it will be a sad day, because Easter is a reminder of a loved one who has died and is now desperately missed.

Easter is about the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Millions and millions of Christians around the world celebrate Easter every year.  But for far too many of us the story has become boring and rote.  We have the basic facts down.  Jesus was arrested.  He was crucified.  And three days later, God raised Him from the dead.

Death seems so cruel, so harsh, and so final.  That is what the disciples were feeling when they saw their Lord, whom they had left everything to follow, hanging on the cross.  They were devastated.  Death had crushed them.  But if they would have gone back in their memories, they would have recalled an important event and statement Jesus had made.

They would have remembered Jesus standing at the tomb of His close friend Lazarus. They would have remembered that Jesus did something completely unexpected: He wept (see John 11:35 NIV).  Jesus wept, because He knew that death was not part of God's original plan.  Humanity was not meant to grow old, to suffer with disease, or to die.  But because of the sin of Adam and Eve, sin entered the human race, and death followed with it.  And death spread to all of us.  Jesus wept, because it broke His heart.

But standing there at Lazarus' tomb, Jesus also delivered these hope-filled words: "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live." (John 11:25 NIV).  Death is not the end.  And the resurrection of Jesus Christ proves it.

Yet we miss something very important.  We miss what turns Easter from a one-dimensional holiday to a multi-dimensional, life-transforming way of life.

Jesus’s earthly mission was to bring salvation to the lost.  He meant people like Zacchaeus, a descendant of Abraham, who worked for the oppressor (Roman Government) as a tax collector.  Tax collectors earned their living by adding an extra surcharge for themselves.  These Jews were considered traitors.

However, they were still Jews, sons of the Covenant and children of Abraham, trying to make a living.  Zacchaeus was not unlike some of us in our own day, separating “what we do” from “who we are”.  “After all,” we may tell ourselves, “we are simply trying to make a living.”  Yet Zacchaeus wanted to see Jesus more than he wanted to maintain his economic comfort.  Jesus knew that.  He had come to Jericho that day seeking to save the lost.

He knew Zacchaeus like He knows each one of us.  The “crowds” around Zacchaeus may have deemed him as unworthy of the encounter that was about to occur, but God did not see him this way.  Jesus saw Zacchaeus’ heart and He drew him to Himself.

Then there is Mary Magdalene, a Jewish woman who traveled with Jesus as one of His followers (minus the seven demons).  Let’s not forget about the crowd of people who met Jesus as He came into the city of Jerusalem praising Him, and then a week later, became His judge and jury. Jesus knew the hearts of all of them.

It’s important that we don’t miss that the story of the Resurrection is not just Jesus’ story — it’s our story as well.

You see, you are a part of the Resurrection.  Jesus’ death and Resurrection did not just prove there was life after death.  The Resurrection proves you can have life after death, that there’s life beyond your grave.

Jesus says, if you trust in Him, death becomes a transition, not an ending point.

One day your heart will stop.  That will be the end of your body.  But it will not be the end of you.  God made you to last forever.  That’s why you often have a feeling there’s more to life than this.  Jesus made this amazing promise in John 11:25 NIV “I am the resurrection and the life.”  

The physical resurrection of Christ is the cornerstone of our faith.  Without it, Christianity crumbles.  It is precisely because the physical resurrection of Christ is at the very heart of Christianity that it is constantly under attack.  Our culture frequently denies the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ due to a bias against miracles.  It is common for deviant Christianity and cultism to deny the physical resurrection of Christ as well.  For these reasons, we must be equipped to defend this essential of essentials.

Jesus provided the final exclamation mark for His physical resurrection by telling the disciples that His resurrected body was comprised of "flesh and bones." "Touch me and see;" He says, "a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have" (Luke 24:39 NIV).

That’s quite a statement!  Jesus proved He could do it by resurrecting Himself.  Otherwise, we would have no reason to believe it.  If Jesus had not died on the cross and been resurrected more than 2,000 years ago, you would have zero chance of getting to Heaven — no hope of the afterlife and no eternal life.

The Bible says, “By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also” (1 Corinthians 6:14 NIV).

As Easter comes our way this year, that’s a truth to hang our lives upon.  It’s great news that Jesus rose from the dead. But what turns that truth from black and white to living color is that one day — if you trust in Him — He will raise you from the grave, too.

That’s the promise of Easter.

Make Every Day Count!

Barry

Mark your calendar March 11th through April 1st and come celebrate our Rising Savoir!