Peninsula Community Church
March 31, 2013
Easter – What’s It All About?
Mark 16: 1-8 When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. And they were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?” And looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back-it was very large. And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed. And he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.” And they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.
Easter is one of those holidays that I love. So why is Easter so important? Well, I am glad that you asked. I would be happy to tell you what Easter means and I believe it is one of the greatest holidays. I remember Easter was one of those holidays that my mom would find a church for me to attend so at least I would be influenced in some way by the Easter story. I remember even when my mom could not afford anything else I would have an Easter basket filled with candy and goodies that would last at least a day or two. I can remember the egg hunts and finding rotten Easter eggs several days if not weeks later. I remember also whether I went to church or not my mom made sure I had a new set of clothes. I also remember as a teen and living with my dad that we would have a feast on Easter Sunday complete with chicken, ham, and leg of lamb. But, as we have seen in the skit, this morning, Easter is so much more than candy, dyed eggs, new clothes, and roasted leg of lamb. Now, there is no problem with any of these because they represent and can be symbolic of the meaning of Easter. They can be used to tell the story of Easter or at least open the door for discussion. While these are just symbols, I would like to share with you the real story of Easter.
It was an ordinary week for most people during the week of Passover in Jerusalem the last week of Jesus’ life but it is into the ordinary and the extraordinary that Christ wants to come. Jesus had come to Jerusalem for passover as it was an important custom and time of remembrance for the Jewish. For the most part, it this week seemed to be an ordinary week except that the one called Jesus seemed to be stirring up trouble. For the Romans, he was a threat to their authority. To the religious leaders, He was a threat to their control over the people and their misguided ideas about life, God, and obedience. There were others who were not sure what to do. They had heard the miraculous stories of the miracles of Christ. They had heard of the messages that had brought change to so many. But they still did not know what to do. They were confused by the arguments against Jesus. They were also a very fickle people. They praised Him on Sunday during the triumphant entry but by Friday the fear of the government and worries about the religious leaders had compelled them to cry out for his crucifixion.
The Friday of Passover in Jerusalem seemed like any other Passover Friday. The crowds were gathered to offer sacrifices and present to the priest a perfectly selected lamb that would sacrifice as a substitute that would take away their sin for that year. Little did they know that the Lamb that would take away the sin of the world forever was in town. Even those closest to Jesus did not know this, for he had been arrested the night before. Jesus faced a trial that was brought about with great haste and one that scholars now say was fraught will illegal aspects. Jesus was sentenced to die on the cross which was the most cruel form of death for their day. It s of note that the religious leaders and the government leaders attempted to distance themselves from these acts. But the fact is Jesus was sentenced and on Friday at about 3PM he died for each and everyone of us.
Because of this the emotions of those who were left were varied. In fact, the mood after Christ’s death ran the gamut. Picture with me in that moment the mood of those closest to Jesus. They were filled with fear. They were afraid of the future. They had lost hope. What if the religious leaders came after them? They were confused. They doubted His word. They were filled with questions. Why did He do this? Didn’t He say He was the savior of the world?
For some in that time especially those closest to him thought life was over. They thought He had failed. As I was preparing my thoughts I came across It reminds me of a story that was told after the battle of Waterloo.
The battle of Waterloo, was fought between Napoleon and the British. The battle was fought in present day Belgium. The commander for the Anglo coalition was the Duke of Wellington. The story is told that after the battle of Waterloo the news was transmitted from a ship out on the water. The transmission was intercepted by a person on a hill who transmitted the message on to others who were strategically placed on the hills around the town. The entire nation would eventually hear the news this way. After the battle, a sailing ship signaled to a man on the shore. The first word was “Wellington” and the next word was “defeated.” Just at that moment a fog blew in and no other words were received. The mood of the nation was almost instantly sent into a downward spiral of doubt and discouragement. But, as the fog dissipated two additional words were sent from the ship. Those words were “the enemy.” In a moment, the mood changed from doubt and a lack of hope to one of joy and one of celebrating a great victory.
On a Friday afternoon some 2000 years ago the message that was transmitted to the world was “Christ defeated.” A fog of fear and doubt swept the country side including those who had been with him during his ministry. We see this as the disciples of Jesus ran and hid from the Roman guard and from each other. But, on Sunday morning the fog was cleared away and the rest of the message arrived. “the enemy.” What is the whole message? “Christ defeated the enemy!” What did he defeat? He defeated fear, doubt, sin, the grave and even death. Even death would no longer the power that it once held because of this one event.
While that was a great message then, what does it mean for us today?
Everything changed after the resurrection. Christ defeated the enemy: death and sin. Christ brought hope. Christ confirmed our faith. Christ proved His word to be true and trustworthy. The message is one of hope, victory, and healing. If you want see a person who is truly broken look for the person who has no hope. The person without hope is one who lives a desperate life and a life that that struggles with issues. But hope is the lifeline that helps us through the deepest, darkest days of life. Where do we find hope in a world that is so broken? Where do we find hope in a life that disappoints us over and over again? The truth is, that hope finds us. As we’re walking down those dark and lonely roads of life, Jesus comes to us and opens our eyes to see God’s plans to prosper us and not to harm us, to give us hope and a future.
But how do we make application of this into our lives? What does hope really mean to us? Hope is not just a cute expression that we use when there is nothing else to say? It is not an expression we use without thinking about the full meaning related to the word? Hope is not an arbitrary word but it is filled with meaning especially when it is attached to the act of Christ Resurrection. We have hope for today and we have hope for tomorrow and more so we have a hope after this life.
Hope means hoping when things are hopeless, or it is no virtue at all…As long as matters are really hopeful, hope is mere flattery or platitude; it is only when everything is hopeless that hope begins to be a strength. (G. K. Chesterton, Signs of the Times, April 1993.
A man approached a little league baseball game one afternoon. He asked a boy in the dugout what the score was. The boy responded, “Eighteen to nothing–we’re behind.” “Boy,” said the spectator, “I’ll bet you’re discouraged.” “Why should I be discouraged?” replied the little boy. “We haven’t even gotten up to bat yet!”
One of the greatest benefits we have in Christ’s resurrection is that we now have hope.