Between Good Friday and tomorrow Easter Monday – that is four days – we the great British public (and some very nice Expats) will have consumed rather a lot of Easter Eggs. Do you know how many? If you put them in one big pile, how much would it weigh? Is it 260 tons of chocolate, 2,600 tons, or is it 26,000 tons. Yes its 26,000 tons. That is a lot of chocolate to eat in four days.
Do you know what the link is between the egg and Easter? It goes back to the time when chickens laid their eggs in the Spring, like sheep have their lambs. Easter marked the end of Winter and the Lenten fast. People celebrated Easter by feasting on things like new laid eggs which were traditionally scarce in Winter. It all got a bit confused when farmers realised they could trick chickens into laying eggs all year round by keeping them in light warm buildings,
and it got really confusing when Mr Cadbury in the 1870s realised there was more money to be made in selling hand-painted chocolate Easter eggs than real ones. Everything else is, as they say, history.
The encouraging fact, however, is that in a recent national survey, one in three people in Britain indicated that they believed in the historical and physical resurrection of Jesus. Whether they understand the purpose is another matter.
C. S. Lewis once said, “Easter is not primarily a comfort, but a challenge. Its message is either the supreme fact in history or else a gigantic hoax...”
This morning I’d like us to think about how the resurrection of Jesus is three dimensional.
1. The Resurrection in History
The resurrection of Jesus was an historical event indelibly recorded in the memories of all who saw him and wrote down what happened.
We have their eye witness testimony in the Bible.
“For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance : that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. 6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8 and last of all he appeared to me also.” (1 Corinthians 15:3-8)
The places associated with the death and resurrection of Jesus are also recorded, in stone. They became places of worship. The Romans tried to destroy the churches by building pagan temples over the top of them. In 325 the Emperor Constantine became a Christian. His mother Helena visited Palestine to find where Jesus had died and rose again. The Christians who survived pointed her to the pagan shrines.
Instead of destroying them, they had preserved them! Here are four. All beginning with G: Gethsemane: Galicantu: Golgotha: Garden Tomb.
The resurrection of Jesus was historical. That’s the first dimension to Easter – Easter Past.
Secondly there is an Easter future!
2. The Resurrection in the Future
One of the greatest promises Jesus ever made is found in John 11.
“I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.” (John 11:25-26)
Because Jesus rose from the dead, we can have hope that we who believe and trust in Him, too will live forever with him. We can look forward to living forever with God. We can look forward to getting new bodies that will never wear out. What will our bodies look like? Superman? Batman? Spiderman? Better. The Bible says that our new bodies will be like Jesus.
“And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven.” (1 Corinthians 15:49)
After his resurrection, Jesus was able to appear and disappear. He was able to walk through walls and even fly – remember he ascended to heaven.
Death is not the end of life, merely a new beginning.
“When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” (Colossians 3:4)
The resurrection of Jesus is not simply the greatest event in history. The resurrection of believers is not simply the most exciting and life changing event to come in the future. There is a third dimension also:
3. The Resurrection in the Present
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” (1 Peter 1:3)
The resurrection is not simply a past event and a future prospect but a present experience.
Jesus promised “This is eternal life, that they may know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” (John 17:3)
We can enjoy 3 things beginning with the letter P.
Jesus first words to the gathered disciples after his resurrection were “Peace be with you.” (Luke 24:36). We are not alone any more. “I will be with you always” (Matthew 28:20).
1. You were planned for God’s pleasure: Worship.
2. You were formed for God’s Family: Fellowship
3. You were created to be like Christ: Discipleship.
4. You were shaped for serving God: Ministry.
5. You were made for a mission: Evangelism.
Christians are the happiest people on earth a recent survey has found. Whereas only half of people say they are happy with life, eight out of ten
Christians say they are. Jesus promised “I have come that they may have life and have it to the full.” (John 10:10). That is certainly true.
The resurrection of Jesus is a three dimensional.
Past – Jesus resurrection really happened.
Future – one day we will be raised with him.
Present – peace, purpose and pleasure.
But this may not yet be your experience. It may not yet be true for you. If so listen to this promise:
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
How can you have assurance of eternal life?
Admit “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” (Romans 3:23)
Believe “Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God.” (1 Peter 3:18)
Consider the words of the risen Jesus: “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me” (Revelation 3:20)
Do Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” (John 1:12)
And if you have already received Jesus as your Lord and Saviour, then I invite you to renew your commitment to follow