“Without Easter?”

“Without Easter?”

March 27th, 2016
Pastor Mark

Without Easter?
Text: 1 Corinthians 15:19–26

Easter! Today is the Big One. The greatest day of the year because it celebrates the greatest day in history! There is so much to say about Easter that even a season of fifty days is too little to fit it all in. Today is the third and final act of the drama that began Thursday night. The entire Christian religion is based on our Lord’s resurrection from the dead, and it is The Big One, the BIG DEAL when it comes to our doctrine, confession, life, and celebration. This is the big day of the church year, even if in preparing for this day, we did not put up an Easter tree, we did not go to Easter parties, we did not send out Easter cards, we did not make Easter cookies or give away Easter presents. Why, then, do so many people misunderstand Easter and reduce it to a celebration of spring or use it as an opportunity for wearing new clothes and eating too much chocolate? Don’t they know what they’re missing? After all, What Would Life Be Like Without Easter?

Well, just to get the ball rolling for our text, Paul says, “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile” (15:17). Easter is everything. For example: Take away Easter, and you take away the forgiveness of your sins, for Easter tells us that Good Friday worked: God has accepted the sacrifice of His Son. The penalty is paid. We’re “Not Guilty!”
Take away Easter, and you put back everything that is bad. You put the devil back into power, with his hold over you in sin and death.
Take away Easter, and you take away life, because death now becomes everybody’s eternal destiny, everybody’s fate. Yours and mine too. “If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied” (v 19).

Take away Easter, and you take away the glorified body, described in this chapter of the Bible, 1 Corinthians 15, as the pinnacle of our Christian hope. If there is no Easter we lose not only life forever, but a physical life and one so glorious that we can’t even begin to imagine it.
But at this idea—the resurrection of the body—some of the first Christians in Corinth balked. “How can this be?” they asked. When you’re dead, you’re dead!
Well, it sure looks that way. If you’ve had anything at all to do with dead bodies, you know the Corinthians were right. Dead people do not come back to life. Reality is not a zombie movie, or a TV show or another TV show with the dead walking again. Here and now, life always ends in real death. Fight it or deny it, maybe even ignore it. Choose whatever strategy you like. It doesn’t matter one bit. Death always wins. It happens—to everyone. It’s final; it’s permanent. When you’re dead, you’re dead.
Or so it seems. Easter turns that all around. “But”—now!—“in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep” (v 20). Our Lord Jesus Christ rose from the dead. He lives, and because He lives you will too: “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive” (v 22).

We will have eternal life. Physically. Paul meant it when he said, “A glorified body.” Again, the Corinthians were skeptical. Hard enough to imagine breathing new life into a dead corpse, but what then? This is difficult to describe. Let’s stop and think about this for a moment.

Paul writes a little bit later in this chapter: “So it is with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power” (15:42–43). “Perishable,” “dishonor,” “weakness”—that’s us, that’s our experience of bodies and life. Since we know no other way, we are used to this reality and these bodies.

And, oh, yes, just one thing more: we also sin in the body. For this thing is not only weak and perishable, but it is also dishonorable—and this, too, is a cause for great pain and sadness.
We are subject to the appetites of our body. Our hands do things they shouldn’t; our feet take us places we shouldn’t go; our minds conceive the worst deeds; and our tongues, well, our tongues are completely out of control. From first to last, life in the body is a life in sin, and we know no other way.

And for Christians, this really hurts. We really do want to please God. Yet, though we live by the forgiveness of sins and though the Holy Spirit blesses us day by day, it is still true that we are like Paul and we have to admit, “For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. . . . Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Rom 7:18–19, 24).

Yes, who?

Jesus Christ, of course.

And how? By Easter. Because Jesus died on Friday and rose again today! By Easter and the sure promise of a glorified body: not weak but powerful, not perishable but imperishable, not dishonorable but glorious—glorious and glorified, like His. That’s the promise. That’s the victory of Easter. When this thing dies, our souls go to heaven. When Jesus comes back, we are resurrected, our bodies rise from the grave, our souls rejoin this thing only it will be PERFECT. And so will the new heaven and new earth we will live in. Because Jesus dies and rose again, an eternal PHYSICAL, PERFECT life awaits all who have faith in Jesus as their Savior.

Today is the BIG ONE. If every other Sunday in the Church Year is a “Little Easter,” then this Sunday is the Big One! Easter reminds us that God always has the last laugh, the last and best Word — the Big One!

A Sunday School teacher told her class that many Bible passages refer to Christ as the Cornerstone of the church. Then she asked if they knew what a cornerstone was. One little boy raised his hand immediately, waving it in the air frantically. “Yes, Bobby,” she said, “what is a cornerstone?” He proudly answered, “It’s the big one.” And he was right, mostly.
But today, of all days of the year is the BIG ONE. When we speak of the BIG ONE, we are not talking about an earthquake, we are not talking about a Michael Moore movie, we are not talking about a vitamin pill, we are not talking about a bath towel and we are not talking about a velociraptor in Jurassic Park. (Google it. I did. But don’t do it now!) On this day about 1986 years ago, Jesus rose from the dead, won the war against the devil, and gave us forgiveness of sins and eternal life.

So thank God for Easter, thank God for Jesus, and thank God for the resurrection: His, of course, but yours too!

Why? You know why! The Lord is Risen!