Its not every day that you can say “today is the day after Easter.” Or, is it?
Either way, today’s that day.
Today’s the day we start living as Easter people.
The death of Christ upon the cross and the resurrection of Christ from the dead form the epicenter of Christianity. Of these we are witnesses; this we believe; by this gospel we are saved; to this we hold we firm; this we preach; this we pass on as of first importance:
- that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,
- that he was buried,
- that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,
- that he appearedâ€¦
This is the witness we have received; this is the gospel; this is what we preach â€“ and if, as Paul says in the verses that follow, â€œif Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith â€“ we are false witnesses about God â€“ if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile, you are still in your sins and those who have died are totally lost.
But He is risen â€“ He is risen indeed! It wasnâ€™t just the women who saw him in the Garden of the Empty tomb, it wasnâ€™t just the two on the Road to Emmaus, it wasnâ€™t just Peter or even the 12, it wasnâ€™t just Thomas (whose doubt the Lord answered) and it wasnâ€™t just Paul whom Jesus met on the road to Damascus â€“ it was more than 500 people at one time on one occasion and it has been countless billions since.
Our witness to the hope of the resurrection is based on the historic veracity of Christâ€™s bodily resurrection from a tomb more than 2000 years ago but our experience of the resurrection is personal as well.
Thomas Oden puts it this way in â€œThe Event named Resurrectionâ€
Whatever it was that occurred after Jesusâ€™ crucifixion, one thing is absolutely clear: it was called resurrection. Of that there can be no doubt. All who were met by it called it the same thing. â€¦
(The resurrection of Christ changed everything. It changed their view of death and it changed their view of life.)
The resurrection empowered the early Christian community with incredible courage in the face of seemingly impossible obstacles and terrifying threats. Why? Because their trust was not in this broken world but in the risen Christ present to them as they sat together â€œat the Lordâ€™s Tableâ€ or faced the wild animals of the Roman Colosseum.
The earliest church reasoned it this way: In Jesusâ€™ resurrection the end is already present. (We know Godâ€™s will for us â€“ to raise us with Christ â€“ it is already accomplished. We have nothing and no one to fear.)
Oden continuesâ€¦”the resurrection is so decisive that the importance of all other theological issues pales beside it. It focuses on nothing less than the final revelation of the will of God in history.”
Something so decisive happened for human history in the resurrection of Jesus that it does not and cannot fit into our ordinary categories of understanding.
Read First Corinthians 15:1-11.
This is the first written resurrection account â€“ remember, Paul wrote his letters before the Gospels were written down. So what we have in I Corinthians 15 is closer in time to the events of Jesusâ€™ life than the record of the Gospels.
Paul passes on here what he received â€“ which means that what we have here is an early creedal formula already recognizable less than 30 years after the death and resurrection of Jesus. Paul didnâ€™t make this up â€“ he passed on what he received â€“ this was the content of the gospel that was believed and declared by the earliest Church:
Of first importance:
- that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,
- that he was buried,
- that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,
- and that he appeared
- to Peter, and
- then to the Twelve. After that,
- he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep.
- Then he appeared to James,
- then to all the apostles,
- and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.
The resurrection of Jesus really happened. People really saw him. He appeared to many, on several occasions, over time.
The resurrection of Jesus Christ is not a theological metaphor to be embraced by faith, it is a concrete historical reality that took place in real time in a real place on a real day.Â We donâ€™t just glory in the resurrection fo Jesus as a nice idea that gives us hope â€“ it is the central tenet of the Christian faith on which our salvation to eternal life depends.Watch Full Movie Online Streaming Online and Download
The apostle Paul put is simply, â€œIf Christ is not raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.â€ (I Cor 15:14, 17) For the earliest Christians, Jesusâ€™ resurrection was an historical fact every bit as real as his death on the cross. They saw him with their own eyes, they touched him with their own hands, they ate with him, walked with him, talked with him. Without the resurrection, Christianity would beâ€¦..FALSE. A false religion with a fake God.
The author John Updike saidÂ on the subject:
Let us not mock God with metaphor, analogy, sidestepping transcendence;
Making of the event a parable, a sign painted in the faded credulity of earlier ages:
Â Let us, he says, â€œnot be embarrassed by the miracle.â€
Thatâ€™s really the cultural question for most of us.Â Weâ€™re embarrassed to admit that we believe in the miracle of the resurrection.Â Why is that?
The apostle Paul had more reason that any of us to rest on his proverbial laurels and live as if Jesus never died on a cross for his sins and never rose from death to free him from sinâ€™s penalty and power. Paul outpaced all of us in breeding, education, status, clout and religious standing. And yet, the man who had everything counted it NOTHING when faced with the reality of the risen Christ.
Paul was sober enough to know he was human â€“ a reality that leaves us insufficient to conquer the decay, disappointment and death that comes with human life. But this was not an intellectual giving-in to the idea of Jesus, this was a life transformed by an encounter with the risen Lord.
So, the real question for us today is this: have we seen Jesus?
Have you had a personal, life transforming encounter with the risen Lord? Maybe he shepherded you through the valley of the shadow of death. Maybe he redeemed your life from a pit. Maybe he stood with you when everyone around you fled. Maybe he still stands at the door knocking, waiting for you to open your life to His presence and power and promises.
Have you received Christ? Do you believe in Him as the Risen reigning Lord? Are you actively bearing witness to that reality every day in every way? If not, why not? Are you ashamed of the Gospel? Are you embarrassed by the miracle?Â Why? Weâ€™re all dying â€“ none of us is sufficient unto ourselves to keep death from coming. Â But in Jesus Christ there is now a hope sufficient for both the living of this life and for the reality of death that comes for us all. Â Why would we keep that great good news to ourselves?
The faith of the church declares:
Because He lives, I can face tomorrow, because He lives, all fear is gone;
Because I know — He holds the future,
and life is worth the living just because He lives. Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â – Bill and Gloria Gaither
These are the testimonies of Paul and Peter, Thomas, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. This is the testimony of Stephen, the first person to die for his declaration of faith in the risen Christ â€“ and this is the testimony of our Christian brothers and sisters who died for their faith in the risen Christ at a college in Kenya last week. This too is the testimony of our 21 Coptic Christians brothers executed on a beach in Libya last month. This is the testimony of our Christian brothers and sisters serving in closed and hostile nations where the preaching of this message would cost â€“ at a minimum, beatings and incarceration.
Are we ready for that? Do we believe what we have received with that level of conviction and commitment? Do we believe in the resurrection of Jesus so deeply that we would die before we would deny it?
Thatâ€™s the question for us as people privileged to live on this side of Easter. Is it a day of pretty dresses, hidden eggs and chocolate rabbits or is it the epicenter of our lives that forms the heartbeat of who we are, how we think, what we say, how we live? Is it the driving passion of our lives? Would we die for it? (pause) Do we live for it?
Jesus did not come from heaven to earth and from the earth to the cross and the cross to the grave and from the grave to the sky so we could live comfortably ignoring the needs of our fellow Christians who are driven from their homes, stripped of their possessions, beaten with the goal of submission, languishing in refugee camps â€“ or worse, executed for their confession of Christ.
Everyday is the day after Easter for Christians. Today is that day. He died so that you might live. What are you going to do Easter people?
How dare we sit by and do nothing. We cannot claim to be ignorant of what is happening. We see it with our own eyes, we hear the reports with our own ears, of these things we are witnesses.
â€œBut what can we do?â€ you ask.Â We can send immediate help through organizations like The Philos Project, we can support people on the front lines in majority Muslim areas like Steven Khoury in Jerusalem; we can pound on the door of government with unrelenting calls and letters demanding that the U.S. create special amnesty for Christians fleeing persecution in the Middle East. We can open our hearts and yes, we can prepare to open our homes.
â€œSeriously?â€ you ask.
This is a matter of life and death for our brothers and sisters. If we donâ€™t help, no one else will. This is the calling of our generation and I for one do not want to stand before the throne of judgement having done nothing as the martyrs crying out beneath that throne â€œhow long, how longâ€ are multiplying every day.
Nothing is so sad as living with so little passion that there is nothing worth dying for.
Would you die for Christ? If not, then ask yourself, are you really authentically living for him?
Are you making a name for yourself or are you living â€“ and willing to die â€“ to make the name of Christ known to others pilules de viagra. Thatâ€™s really the question for Easter people.
Paul was willing to die for Jesus â€“ but of equal importance, Paul was willing to offer his life as a living sacrifice. To live for Christ â€“ every day, moment by moment, sharing with others the good and great news of Jesus Christ with others. My prayer for you is that you arise â€“ from the grave of complacency to the glory of a life animated by the Holy Spirit of the risen Christ. Not only that you might not die in your sins â€“ but that you might live a life worthy of the calling of the one who died and yes, rose again.
Because He lives, we can face tomorrow, the day after the day after Easter.
Because He lives, so can I. Because for me, every day is now the day after Easter.Â
So we claim to believe, let us so live.
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