Easter is the most important day of our year as Christians. What is the biggest Christian holiday the world celebrates? It’s Christmas. The world goes nuts for Christmas. The world goes crackers for Christmas.
The world goes nutcrackers for Christmas.
But Easter slips by in our culture without much fanfare. It’s a long weekend maybe, nothing more. Easter hasn’t been associated with the wild commercialism of Christmas. Maybe that’s partly because Easter is so clearly about faith that it can’t be commercialized and secularized. The world may say it’s about the bunny, but everybody knows it’s about the Lamb.
Because Christian faith makes no sense at all unless Jesus rose from the dead. Born from a virgin? Cool trick. Feeding of the five thousand? That’s nice, but McDonald’s does it every day. Sermon on the Mount? Nice speech. Even Jesus’s death on the cross would be just another martyrdom in the cause of truth and justice if it weren’t for Easter.
Jesus rising from the dead is at the very center of our faith. Our job is to go out and tell the world about the truth of Easter. In Acts Jesus tells the disciples what they are supposed to do: “You will be my witnesses in Judea, and in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:8. Our job is to repeat the words we shouted this morning, not just in the safe confines of the church, but in the whole world: He is risen indeed!
So my question to you is this: do you believe He is risen indeed? Do you believe it so much so that, like the women who came to the tomb, you have no choice but to tell the whole world?
Is Jesus risen, in your mind?
There are lots of historical proofs of the resurrection: the heavy stone, the lack of a body, the sudden, inexplicable change in the disciples. But even if you don’t buy these historical reasons, consider Science, Scripture, and nature.
First, scientific theory about the origins of the universe is telling us that the universe had a starting point: there was nothing, and then there was light. What did God use to create the universe? Did He do it from one star? Or even one molecule? No. He made everything that is out of nothing at all. And if He did it once, if you can believe that miracle, can’t we believe that God brought life from nothingness that Sunday morning? That God is, in fact, in the habit of making all things new?
God has been trying to make this point to us for a very long time: “I make all things new.” (Revelation 21:5) God’s message of Easter is all over the Bible. Nine people are raised from the dead, including the unnamed son of the Shunammite woman we read about this morning. Back in 2 Kings, God gave the people two prophets, Elijah and Elisha, and we believe their purpose was to prepare people for Jesus, because so many of the miracles they performed—feeding the hungry, raising the dead, healing the sick—were the same kinds miracles Jesus performed.
But God didn’t just tell us about resurrection through the miracle workers of the Bible. He also placed our little blue planet in such a way that we experience seasons, a message of resurrection every year. The great reformer Martin Luther said that God speaks “in every leaf in springtime.” Each daffodil, each crocus, each lily is God’s way of explaining to us: I like to make things new. Butterflies arise from their tomblike cocoons. A seed dies so that the seedling can emerge. We see all throughout nature the truth of resurrection.
And we all have questions, we all have doubts. But ultimately, one side has to win. Is it doubt, or is it faith? Can you proclaim: He is risen indeed!
If so, the next question is: Is Jesus risen in your heart?
John, the Gospel writer, made up a phrase that had never been used before. In Greek, you would say “I believe that,” such as “I believe that God exists.” But John made up the phrase “I believe in” something. And if you think about it, believing in Jesus isn’t the same as believing that Jesus existed. You can believe that Jesus rose from the dead, but do you believe in Easter? Because if you really believe in the truth of Easter, it will change the way you look at everything. You won’t be so worried about health or wealth or the little things. It doesn’t mean you won’t care about our world, terrorism and war and poverty and disease. You’ll probably care about the world more because God cares about this world. But you will also have a peace in your heart that no events can shake. Like the Shunammite woman. Did you notice how everybody is asking her what is wrong, and she just says, “Shalom.” “Peace!” “All is well.” (2 Kings 4:26) She has this desperate urgency to find help for the very real problem of her dead son…but she also has this unshakeable faith that it will all be ok.
That’s why we say, when we pass the peace, may the peace of Christ be with you. It doesn’t mean everything will always go ok in your life, but that no matter what happens, you will be able to say, Shalom! All is well.
You might have doubts, you might have fears, but in the end, one side has to win. Is it fear, or the belief that all is well? Can you proclaim with your whole heart, He is risen indeed!
And finally, if you believe that Christ is risen with your heart and your mind, then is Jesus risen in your life?
When the disciples encountered the risen Lord, it changed everything. These ordinary fishermen and tax collectors gave up everything, went all over the world, shared everything they had, and spent the rest of their lives talking about Jesus. It got seven of them, seven of the faithful eleven, killed. Easter changed everything! In the end, Easter doesn’t really matter if it’s just a long weekend. But if it’s true, then it needs to be the central truth of your life that Jesus rose from the dead. If it is true, you must live differently! If He really was the Son of God who rose from the dead, and eternal life can be found in Him, then that will change everything you think and everything you say and everything you do. Romans 6:4 says, we will live new lives.
We are called to live as an Easter people every day, a changed people, a people of peace and faith, who by our actions proclaim that Christ is risen indeed. Every time an addict turns away from the the bottle, He is risen. Every time a person wronged chooses to forgive, He is risen. Every time a Christian takes a risk for Christ, He is risen. Every time we choose love over fear, Christ is risen indeed!
Jesus did not rise from the dead so that you could eat ham this afternoon. He rose so that you and I could live new lives. So, Is Jesus risen in your life? He is risen indeed!
So believe in Easter with all your heart, all your soul, and all your might; and let your life proclaim, “He is risen indeed!” every day.
In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Amen.