The Day That Changed the World
Why Celebrate Easter?
This past Sunday, we celebrated the most monumental event in the history of the world - the resurrection of Jesus Christ! Jesus had been very clear during His ministry, on multiple occasions, that He would die, but that three days later, he would rise again. (Mark 10:32-34). And that is exactly what He did!
The resurrection is the linchpin of our faith; without it, Christianity falls apart. But, there is no doubt that Jesus rose from the grave, just as He said He would. And because Jesus rose from the dead, all who believe and declare Him Savior and Lord will also defeat death, to live eternally in God’s heaven. (John 3:36)
There are lots of reasons we celebrate Easter; but I’ll give you three:
1)The Empty Tomb (John 20:1-10)
According to John’s account, Mary had gone to the tomb at first light; but when she got there, she discovered the stone at the tomb entrance had been rolled away! She hurried to tell the disciples what she discovered. After hearing from Mary, Peter and John literally raced to the tomb to see for themselves that it was empty!
Can you imagine what they were thinking in that moment? We know what John thought… 8 …He saw and believed. (John 20:8b). John made sure we knew he had no doubt; when he witnessed the empty tomb, he believed Jesus had risen from the grave, just as Jesus said He would!
So why does the empty tomb, Jesus’ resurrection, matter to us? For one, the empty tomb matters because the same power that raised Jesus from the dead is available to all who believe! When you invite Jesus to save you, Jesus empowers you to live a brand new life in Him. (Eph. 1:18-20; Rom. 6:4). The theological concept for that empowerment is holiness and sanctification. But the practical concept for that empowerment is Jesus’ work in your life, enabling you to be the spouse, the parent, the manager, the leader, the example, the influencer that He wants you to be. If you’re running on empty today, look to Christ to empower you as only He can!
There is another great reason to celebrate Easter; we celebrate what happened in…
2) The Crowded Room (John 20:19-20)
That evening, after discovering the empty tomb, ten of the disciples were gathered together behind locked doors in a crowded room, fearing for their own lives. What do you think it was like in that room? The old cliche, “you could cut the tension with a knife,” seems like an understatement! But then suddenly, Jesus appears. And just in case they had any doubts who He was, Jesus showed them the wounds in His hands (or wrists) and on His side, where the soldier had pierced Him as He hung on the cross.
How did the disciples respond? John tells us they were “overjoyed!” If you had been in that crowded room, how would you have felt after knowing all Jesus had suffered? (Mark 14-15). If I had been there, I would have been overjoyed too, maybe even astounded, amazed, even perplexed! Some may have asked, “how can this be?”
Even among the eleven, there was a doubter. I’ll bet you know his name? For whatever reason, Thomas wasn’t in the room the first evening Jesus appeared. When Thomas came back and the others told him about Jesus appearing, he didn’t believe them; and who could blame him? After all, he knew what had happened to Jesus. But a week later Jesus appeared to doubting Thomas and the other disciples again in that crowded room. (John 20:24-29)
That night, Jesus had a vital, life-changing message for Thomas and for anyone who doubts Jesus rose from the grave, or who doubts He provides salvation, or who doubts He offers a brand new life. 27 …”Stop doubting and believe.” (John 20:27b)
In that crowded room, Jesus answered any doubt about Who He is and what He came to do! Jesus suffered and died for our sin’s penalty of death (Rom. 6:23). Do you have any doubts that Jesus is Savior and Lord? Jesus words to Thomas in that crowded room are echoed for you today. Stop doubting and believe! Declare Jesus is Lord! (Romans 10:9)
At Easter, we celebrate, the empty tomb, we celebrate what happened in the crowded room, and we celebrate….
3) The Ministry Resumed!
In John 21 we learn that Jesus appeared to His disciples a third time, this time by the Sea of Galilee after the disciples had spent the night fishing. After breakfast, Jesus had a life-changing conversation with Peter. Remember, as Jesus faced crucifixion, Peter had denied he had ever known Jesus, not once but three times, just as Jesus said He would. Now Jesus gave Peter a chance to reaffirm his commitment to fully follow Jesus. (John 21:15-17)
This narrative is one of my favorite in the entire Bible. Jesus asks Peter three times if He loves Him, which gives Peter three chances to affirm His love for Jesus after disowning Him three times. But we also miss something in translation here. In the original language, the way Jesus uses this word for love implies a supreme devotion, a total commitment. But the word for love that Peter uses is a lesser love. Why?
Peter knew he had made some pretty audacious promises to Jesus in the past and had famously blown it, so he was reticent to overcommit. But Jesus had big plans for Peter and He wanted Peter to understand that He needed more from him than a causal, half-hearted, part-time commitment. Jesus needed a no holds barred, all-in, supreme commitment from Peter! And the truth is, that’s what Jesus wants from you and me too.
Maybe to this point in your life, you’ve been reluctant to fully commit to Jesus, for whatever reason. Maybe you weren’t ready to take that kind of faith step; maybe you thought you weren’t good enough or you didn’t know enough Bible verses. Bottom line, we can come up with lots of excuses for not fully surrendering our lives to Christ.
Let me answer those excuses or concerns for you with one simple statement we use a lot around Watermark. Jesus meets you right where you are, but He doesn’t leave you there… He wants to make you just like Him. And you will spend a life-time getting there. I’m still not there; but He’s teaching me new lessons every day, molding me, growing me, using me as His disciple to do His work in this world. He’s making me into the fully devoted disciple He longs for me to be; and He’ll do the same for you!
Would you make an all-in, no holds barred commitment to Jesus? For much more, click here to watch our Easter service and listen to the message… The Week That Changed the World - Part 7 - The Resurrection.