Paul said, “And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith” (1st Cor 15:14). The resurrection means everything to us!
This week is commonly known as “Holy Week.” During Holy Week we celebrate the life, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. Since I only have two (work) days left before Resurrection Sunday, I will just focus on the resurrection. But before we get too deep in the subject matter, let me at least a few things about celebrating “Easter” vs. “The Resurrection.” This upcoming Sunday children all over the United States will go on extensive searches through fields of grass, with their best clothes on, looking for colored eggs. They will call this “Easter,” and while it may be fun for the kids and seen harmless to many, to me, it makes a mockery of the event that separates Christianity from all other world religions. I call this upcoming Sunday morning Resurrection Sunday, because it has nothing to do with Peter Cotton tail, or bunnies, or eggs, or pretty colors. Resurrection Sunday has everything do with celebrating Jesus and how He conquered satan, hell and the grave by conquering death, so that we could do the same.
Mark records the events following Jesus’ death and burial: “When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Solome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body… As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed. “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here” (Mark 16:1-6). Have you ever taken the time to ponder the fact that we, as Christians, are the only people on the planet who serve a God who lived on the earth, died, and yet still lives? We serve a living Savior – Jesus is His name! That’s Good News! That empty tomb gives Christians all over the world the spring in our step. That empty tomb is the fuel in our fire, the air in our lungs, and the wind beneath our wings! Without the empty tomb there is no Christianity. Without the empty tomb we have no hope. Without the empty tomb our message is just a story.
Over the nearly 2,000 years since many have tried to discredit and discount the validity of Jesus’ Resurrection, but the truth lives on. As Dr. Charlie Parmer (one of my mentors) once said, “The most telling affirmation of the validity of His literal Resurrection was and is the dramatic change that it produced in the lives of those followers. From the weak, wavering, faltering, denying group of fishermen, tax collectors, etc.; the twelve plus the others became the most zealous, faithful, dynamic group who ever lived. They literally became burning evangels for the cause of Christ; and they totally turned the world upside down for Him over the next 71 plus years. They were condemned, threatened, imprisoned, beaten, and commanded to be silent; but they just got right back out on the streets and just started preaching Jesus again – alive by Promise, dead by Purpose, Resurrected by (God’s) Power, and reigning for our good Measure and Pleasure!“
So what does this mean to you? A few things:
1. It means that Jesus’ victory over death liberates us to reign over death as well. Jesus took the sting out of death and He took victory from the grave (1st Cor 15:55).
2. It means that Christianity is the only religion with a living Savior. The prophet Mohammed died and remained dead. Siddhartha, the man who came to be known as “the Buddha,” died and remained dead. Mahatma Gandhi died and remained dead. The same could be said for EVERY other religious figure. Jesus conquered satan, hell and the grave with the Resurrection!
3. It means that to be a Christian you must have a personal encounter with the Christ! You can be a Muslim without ever meeting Mohammed, you can be a Buddhist without ever meeting Buddha, but if you are going to be a Christian you have to meet Christ for yourself!
Closing Confession: Father, I thank You for sending Jesus to die so that I could live. I live for Him, in Him, with Him, and through Him. It is in You Father that I live, and move, and have my being. Jesus’ victory over death means that death has no victory over me. I am dead to self, alive to Christ, and I know that I will live forever in You and with You. I love you with all my heart and I live for You all my days. Help me to share Your love, Your light, and Your Resurrecting power with others today! In Jesus’ name. Amen.