Today, Christians all over the world will celebrate Resurrection Day. I like that term better than “Easter” because it says specifically what we’re celebrating. The world observes Easter with egg hunts, candy, and tales about the Easter bunny because it’s all they know. We understand the real story.
I don’t think it’s wrong to give your children a gift at Easter (any more than at Christmas) or to have fun with fictional characters. Our girls have great memories of Easter lunch with their cousins, aunts, and uncles and looking for plastic eggs containing candy in “Mama ‘Curry’s” yard. Children are quite capable of distinguishing fact from fiction, and as long as you’re faithfully teaching them about Jesus the whole year through (not just one or two days a year), they will know the truth. I pray your day is filled with God’s presence as you worship Him with your church family and enjoy time with your people.
I’m reminded of how important the Resurrection was to Paul, as we conclude Acts today. At the end of Acts 28, Paul has finally made it to Rome, where he sits under house arrest. At this point, no one in Rome seems too concerned about prosecuting him; he has the freedom to live in his own rented quarters and is freely teaching the gospel of Jesus and the kingdom of God to all who will sit and listen. After years of traveling to share the gospel, God has shaped circumstances so that instead of going to the world, the world is coming to him.
Paul’s message never changes, no matter if he’s free to travel, or bound by the authorities to stay in Rome. Regardless of who is listening, he shares the good news about the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus.
1 Corinthians 15:1-4 – Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which you also stand by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.
As of first importance…
This was the message that got Paul in trouble time after time – continuing to proclaim that Jesus had risen from the dead. The Jews simply could not accept this, because it would require them to admit that Jesus was indeed God, the Son of God, the Messiah. As long as they denied the Resurrection, they could dismiss Jesus as simply a good teacher, a friendly rabbi, or a religious fanatic who blasphemed God.
The resurrection is central to our faith. It is what gives us hope, and what allowed Paul to be content in any and all circumstances. The resurrection takes our eyes off this world and focuses them on the eternal life that waits for us just ahead. The resurrection confirms that God has accepted the sacrifice Jesus made for our sins – that we are truly redeemed and made holy by the blood He shed. As Paul wrote to the believers in Corinth, If Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins (1 Corinthians 15:17).
Praise God, we are NOT still in our sins!
Praise God, Jesus is alive and sitting at the right hand of the Father, interceding for us!
Praise God, Jesus is coming back, and if He doesn’t come before we die, we will go to Him!
Towards the end of Acts 28, Paul says some of the saddest words in scripture. He is quoting from Isaiah as he admonishes the Jews who continue to reject Jesus.
Acts 28:24-28 – Some were being persuaded by the things spoken, but others would not believe. And when they did not agree with one another, they began leaving after Paul had spoken one parting word, “The Holy Spirit rightly spoke through Isaiah the prophet to your fathers, saying,
‘Go to this people and say,
“You will keep on hearing, but will not understand;
And you will keep on seeing, but will not perceive;
For the heart of this people has become dull,
And with their ears they scarcely hear,
And they have closed their eyes;
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
And hear with their ears,
And understand with their heart and return,
And I would heal them.”’
Therefore let it be known to you that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles; they will also listen.”
May our hearts not be dull to the amazing truth that Jesus is alive. May our ears hear the good news today with greater and deeper understanding and may our eyes will have a fresh vision of the miracle of Resurrection Day. As believers, we can have dull hearts too.
If Easter is just another day to eat a big lunch and spend time with family, you’re missing the point. Jesus died for you, but He didn’t stay in the grave. Death is defeated, and eternal life is available for all who will believe.