Sunday, April 23, 2000

Easter Festival

Easter Festival 

1 Corinthians 15:19-28 
April 23, 2000

The Reality of the Resurrection

Introduction:  Is the Resurrection as real as a fact? Some deny the historical reality of the Resurrection. It is held that the Resurrection was a matter of faith on the part of the disciples who passed on the myth to later generations.  Because something is believed to exist does not prove it exists. Faith is not enough. Faith must be based on facts. Paul is certain that the Resurrection is a fact.

What are the facts of the resurrection?

1.                  The fact of the tempt tomb. Paul considers the Resurrection to be a fact .  It is not a theory, a wish, and not even a faith. Thinking, wishing, or believing does not make anything a reality especially the Resurrection. The Resurrection is a hard, cold fact - and the fact that Paul places before us is an empty tomb. The tomb is empty. That is what Paul presents to us.

Jesus is not there - His tomb is empty. We can not return to pay homage at His tomb. He is not there. He died a physical death but He was raised back to life. In fact, Paul will go on to remind us that if we do away with this fact - the reality of the Resurrection - Christianity is no more! If there is no Resurrection - there isn't  any Christianity. Without this fact of the Resurrection the Christian faith has no foundation. If the church has no Resurrection to proclaim, it has no message of hope and there is no salvation to offer the world.

2.                   Then there is the fact of a resurrected Jesus. He appeared physically to His disciples. Some believe that the Resurrection is merely the thought of the first Christians that Jesus became alive in the minds of believers.  Paul will have nothing of that. To him it is all or nothing. Jesus appeared physically alive before His disciples for a period of 40 days to prove once and for all that He was truly alive. The empty tomb is one fact. Jesus' appearance alive physically is the second fact. For 40 days Jesus walked and talked, and ate with His disciples so that they could know that He truly was alive from the dead.

Each of the disciples of Jesus Christ, with the exclusion of John all died for one thing - their testimony that they saw Jesus alive from the dead. If Jesus had died and not risen from the dead then each of them died for what they knew was a lie. True, there have been many that have died for a good cause. But can you show me one place in human history were so many would have died for what they knew was a lie.  They said "We are witnesses of His Resurrection!"

3.                  The fact of a living Lord in the lives of His followers. Jesus changed their lives. Take Thomas for example. Before Jesus' appearance Thomas was a skeptic.  He wouldn't believe unless he saw Jesus with His own eyes.  But once he saw Jesus his life was changed forever.  Each of the followers of Christ had their lives turned upside down because of one thing the Resurrection of Jesus Christ and His appearance to them.

            Because of the Resurrection Christ is in the business of changing our lives too. Because Jesus is alive you are made alive too.  The resurrection is not limited to life after death.  The resurrection can take place before death.  In baptism we die and are buried with Christ and we rise in newness of life. Here is a resurrection before the resurrection. Easter has a present day application for each of us. You can experience a resurrection with Christ here and now because in Christ you are a new creature.

Conclusion:  The Easter message is one, which brings life to each of us!  Jesus Christ is risen from the dead.  He has appeared again and again to His disciples, in fact, the one who has written to us this day is an eyewitness of Jesus Christ. Jesus appeared to Paul physically so that he too could say "I am an eye witness to the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead!"  Rejoice then this day for Christ is alive. And because He lives we will live also.  A blessed Easter! Amen.

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