Sunday, March 27, 2005

Sermon - Easter Sunday - Colossians 3:1-4

Easter Sunday Sermon
“Three Truths of Easter”
Colossians 3:1-4
March 27th, 2005


What a blessing to be gathered here on this holy day. Our mourning turned to laughter, or sorrow to joy, our tears give way to singing. For Christ who once was slain has now been raised to life. The tomb is empty, and He lives forever! It is Easter. And CHRIST IS RISEN!

There is an air of excitement today. As our music turns festive, the chancel is full of flowers, the Alelluias have returned. Easter is the high point of life in the church year. But what does it all mean?

A Sunday School teacher asked her class to write one sentence each on "What Easter Means to Me." One pupil wrote: "Easter means - Egg salad sandwiches for the next two weeks!"... We know there is more.
There’s a cause for all the excitement today. Jesus Christ risen from the dead. And the reason that’s exciting is what it means for us.

One of my favorite stories is about a young preacher who had just arrived at a congregation. He was giving his first sermon there, and he began, “Today’s sermon is entitled, ‘What you can expect from your new pastor?” and my sermon answers this question with 3 points. What can you expect from your new pastor? 1) not much. 2) more of the same. 3) 3-point sermons.”

Today, a three point sermon is in order. For there are three important meanings, three important truths to Easter.

Colossians explains that we have been raised with Christ, that Christ is now with God, and that when Christ appears – we will be with him in Glory. Taken in the context of all the Bible tells us about Easter, we can see here 3 reasons that Easter is so important. 3 Things that Easter Means:

Peter found out the hard way, that you can always believe what Jesus says.
”No, No, I won’t every deny you Lord. I would DIE FIRST” But Jesus predicted, and so it happened. But with the cockadoodledoo – Peter chickened out – and denied Jesus just as he said he would.

John had also heard the many predictions of Jesus – including the number of times Jesus spoke of his coming death AND RESURRECTION. So when they met Mary early in the morning, and she was running, perhaps out of breath, “they… have taken… the Lord… out of the tomb… and we can’t find him!” Perhaps something flashed in John’s mind. And maybe he and Peter looked at each other as both recalled the prediction, “The Son of man will be crucified, and after three days rise again”. Could it be true?

And so they ran. The raced each other to the tomb and found it deserted. The burial cloths, neatly folded - not what you would expect of a grave-robber. And there in the absence of Christ, there at the barely used grave, John saw and believed.

You can always believe what Jesus says. In this world people will lie to you. They will tell you what you want to hear, what will get you to buy the product. They will exaggerate or minimize, as suits the purpose. Even people who mean well break promises. But you can always trust what Jesus says.

What does he say to us? Much the same as he said long ago – Repent, for the kingdom is near. Son your sins are forgiven. Woman, go and sin no more. He who believes in me, even though he dies, yet shall he live.

And we know he means what he says, and will do it. Even something as outrageous as bringing us back from the grave – we know he can do it, because he already did it himself. You can believe what Jesus says.

The second meaning of the resurrection is that God the Father accepts Jesus’ sacrifice.

When Jesus died on the cross, it may have seemed like God the Father was angry with him or disapproved of him in some way. And that is true! God did pour out his wrath on Jesus, who was made sin and a curse for us.

But there’s more to the story. Jesus also did at the cross what we couldn’t do, can’t do. He satisfied God’s anger. He paid the price. He bore the punishment. And Easter shows that God’s anger at sin is put away. When God raises his Son from the dead, and says, “well done, good and faithful servant,” That’s not just good news for Jesus – it’s great news for us too!

Why? Because only through Jesus can we approach God. Only because of Jesus are we acceptable to God. Having Jesus as a Savior is “Having friends in high places”. In fact, as Jesus is now seated at the right hand of God, we have a friend in the highest place of all. We know that our advocate, our mediator, our go-between with the Father is worthy. Because God accepted his sacrifice on Friday and raised him to life on Sunday.

Finally, Easter means resurrection – not just for Jesus, but for us too!
Our text says, “We are raised with Christ”.

Or as I have said so often, “His resurrection IS our resurrection!”

It is said that possums are smart animals. You wouldn’t think so because you hardly ever see one except when it’s dead on the road. There’s a joke that goes, “why did the chicken cross the road? To prove to the possum that it could be done!” But possums, it turns out, are smart. They won’t enter a hole if there’s just one set of tracks going into it. They know there’s something in there. But if there are two sets of tracks. The possum will enter and not be afraid. The message of Easter is that we can enter the grave - we don’t have to fear death because there are tracks leading out of the tomb.

Earlier in Colossians, Jesus is called the “Firstborn among the dead”. But he’s not the only one. Just the first. Others will follow. You and I and all believers in Christ will have our own Easter. We too will rise from the dead, to live forever. When Christ returns and the trumpet call of God sounds, scripture tells us the dead in Christ will rise.

All Christians know that when we die, we go to heaven. But Christians often forget the promise of God is not just for eternal life in the spirit. Our BODY AND SOUL will live with him forever. Job said, “After my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God!” That’s why Easter is so important. Christ shows us what to expect. He goes from death to life again – to guarantee us the same.

Do you feel the excitement of Easter? More importantly, do you see the meaning? Did you catch the three points? Easter means, You can believe what Jesus says. Easter means, God the Father accepted his sacrifice. Easter means – We are raised with Christ! Christ is Risen (He is Risen indeed – Alelluia). Amen.

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