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| Why Easter Matters
April 17, 2022
1 Corinthians 15:3-10a, 14-20, 54b-58
3For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. 7Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. 9For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain.
14And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. 15We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. 16For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. 17And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. 20But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.
54b“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
55“O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”
56The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
58Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.
The resurrection of Jesus is the event upon which all of Christianity rests. On that first Easter morning, Jesus was not resuscitated after a near death experience, but rather died a violent death and was raised with a new physical body and therefore, ushered in an entirely new mode of existence. Christians believe that what happened to Jesus was absolutely unique and that is why we worship him. But the claims and implications of the resurrection of Jesus are so vast and profound that we must ask: can we believe that the resurrection happened and, if it did, why does it matter?
To discover and experience Jesus Christ in our midst
To cultivate mutually encouraging relationships
To participate in God’s mission to the world
We praise you, O God, for the power of your saving love revealed in the resurrection of our Lord. As you have raised Jesus from the dead, give to us the gift of everlasting life, that we may worship you forever; through Christ, our risen Savior. Amen.
Responsive Prayer—Psalm 114:1-8
1When Israel went out from Egypt, the house of Jacob from a people of strange language.
2Judah became his sanctuary, Israel his dominion.
3The sea looked and fled; Jordan turned back.
4The mountains skipped like rams, the hills like lambs.
5What ails you, O sea, that you flee? O Jordan, that you turn back?
6O mountains, that you skip like rams? O hills, like lambs?
7Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the God of Jacob,
8Who turns the rock into a pool of water, the flint into a spring of water.
1. Did The Resurrection Happen?
The Apostle Paul wrote the letter to Corinth about 20-25 years after Jesus’ death. This reveals the fact that, despite a number of alternative theories around the death of Jesus, the tomb was empty. The soldiers guarding the tomb would not have allowed the body to be stolen since they would have faced the death penalty themselves. And the authorities would have come up with the body to squash the rumor of the resurrection. But they didn’t because there was no body to produce. The gospel writers all go out of their way to record the appearances of the risen Jesus after his death. What they offer are accounts of disciples talking and touching a bodily resurrected Jesus.
One of the greatest pieces of evidence for the resurrection of Jesus was the life change of the disciples. Prior to the resurrection the disciples are fearful, confused, and oftentimes fickle. They are not painted in a very positive picture in the gospels. However, after the resurrection they are completely changed. They risk their lives for what they have seen, heard, and believed. Had the resurrection been a fabricated story, they never would have given their lives for the Christian message. Their fear had changed to courage and their doubt to faith.
- If the disciples' changed lives is evidence for the resurrection (and it is!), how might our lives be offered as evidence for the resurrection?
- How can our church community be a living witness that the resurrection of Jesus really happened?
2. Why Does The Resurrection Matter?
While there are many valid reasons to believe that the resurrection actually happened, perhaps it is even more important to understand the implications for our world and our lives. In other words, why does and why would the resurrection of Jesus matter to us?
First it changes our past. Paul says in v.3 that Christ died for our sins. Paul makes the connection between the death and resurrection of Jesus and our sins. Jesus’ death on the cross was God’s way of dealing with sin. In v.14-19 Paul tells us that if Jesus was not raised from the dead, we of all people should be pitied, and everything we do and preach is in vain. Where sin leads to alienation with God, conflict with others, and inner slavery, Christ’s death and resurrection leads to new life and hope.
Second, it offers promise for the future. In v.20 Paul refers to the resurrection of Jesus as the first fruits for those who have fallen asleep. In other words, Jesus’ resurrection offers us the promise of a new physical body in a new physical world.
Third, the resurrection offers purpose for the present. We are not simply meant to spend the rest of our days waiting for the future but we are called to anticipate the future by being a sign of the resurrection hope for the world.
- How does the bodily resurrection reshape common misconceptions of our future hope of heaven?
- In his sermon, Jason gave a long list of how everything we do now matters because of the resurrection. Were there any in that list that surprised you? How does “painting a canvas” or “starting a company” for example offer a glimpse of the resurrected world?
- Because of the resurrection, everything we do in service to Jesus will not be wasted. In other words, nothing we do is in vain. How does this offer us hope when so much of our efforts can appear fleeting and insignificant? What specifically about the resurrection changes this?
- What are some ways we can celebrate the resurrection of Jesus this week, given its vast implications for our lives and world?
You are witnesses to the resurrection; you are messengers of the gospel. Go forth to tell the good news, preaching peace by Jesus Christ—he is Lord of all.