Peninsula Community Church
Easter Sunday Message – He is Risen!
April 20, 2014

Mark 16:1-9 When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, 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.

Today, you may be here to satisfy the person that invited you. You may be here because you are curious. You may be here because you have heard the stories of Easter and wanted to see if they are true. You may be here because this is the one or two times you attend church each year. Of course, there is the possibility that you may be here but you really don’t know why. I trust, however, that most of you are here because you have a desire to be here. Regardless of the reason that you came, we are so glad you are here. We are so pleased that you have joined us on this special day of celebration and joy.

As I begin this morning, let me ask you a question? What is the most amazing event you ever attended? As I was preparing for this message I was reminded of some of the events in my own life that have rocked my world. You see during the 57 years of my life, I have been blessed to enjoy some awesome events. I remember a fall day in October. The year was 1981. It was the day Michelle and I said our vows and made a commitment to love each other for life. What an awesome day that was. Three years later, I remember standing in the delivery room where our son, Josh, was born. I remember that he was crying and as I called his name, he turned to look at me and immediately stopped crying. Wow! What a day that was. Then, three years later our daughter, Katelynne, was born. I remember looking at that little girl with such great joy, hope, and love. I have been blessed to be apart of so many other significant events in my life as well. There have been special vacations, weddings, a tiger cruise with my son on the USS Boxer, sporting events, and more. In fact, there are so many events it would be impossible to review them all during our time this morning. The one common element in these events is that they were all so awesome that they left an inedible imprint on my mind. And yet, as awesome as these events were, the events of the week of passover so far surpass any personal event you or I could ever experience in this life.

As I think of Easter, I can’t help but think of Christmas. I am always so excited to celebrate the birth of Christ and enjoy the festivities that come with Christmas. But, as awesome as Christmas might be Easter is just as awesome if not more awesome in many ways. The Easter season is a bookend to the life that came into being on Christmas. While Christmas is critical in our understanding of God, without Easter the value of Christmas would be diminished. And, While the Virgin birth is critical to our understanding of who Christ is and what He came to do on the cross, it was the resurrection that sealed His mission and provided an avenue through which we could obtain all that has been done for us through Christ. G. Campbell Morgan wrote that “the resurrection was the most stupendous, supernatural miracle that the world has ever known. It supersedes everything else. Why, because if He is not risen from the dead then everything else collapses!”

As we look at Easter, we must acknowledge that we can send confusing messages about the value of the events of Easter. If we are not careful we can send mixed signals that can cloud the truth about the events. It is funny to me that we celebrate Easter by telling our children that the Easter Bunny, a large male rabbit is carrying around a basket full of colored eggs as if he hatched these eggs himself. I hope I don’t burst your bubble but rabbits don’t make nests nor do they lay eggs especially colored eggs! It’s enough to confuse adults much less children. It is interesting that in society that the Easter Bunny has taken the headlines away from Christ’s resurrection. For some, if not most people, even Christians, it is hard to put our arms the fact that Jesus rose from the grave.

But regardless of what we might think or believe the fact is, He did rise. He is risen! The tomb is empty. There is no one there. Why? It is because He rose on the third day. One of the problems we experience is that a part of our confusion lies in the fact that we focus on the wrong elements of the event. We can view the resurrection as a theology or a particular religious viewpoint, but to fully understand the resurrection, we must understand that the resurrection is not about a particular theological premise, or a religious construct, it is a person. Now don’t get me wrong, this does not mean that the resurrection is not a part of our theology; but if we only view the resurrection as theology, we have missed the focus of the event.

During the life of Jesus, we see that He stated that He was the resurrection and the life. He was not just going to be resurrected, He was the resurrection. In Him was life. Listen to the words of Jesus at the time of the death of Lazarus. Martha said to him, “I know that he (Lazarus) will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world. (John 11:20-27).

Jesus made this radical statement that He would not just rise again but that He represented the totality of what the resurrection was about. He fulfilled His promise that He would not be bound by death but that He would rise again. Thus, we find on that beautiful Easter morning that indeed He rose. You see by way of the resurrection, Christ did what no other individual had ever done. In the person of Christ, He overcame death, sin and the bondages of this world. Because of the resurrection, we have the right to these same outcomes for our lives. Through the resurrection, our faith in Christ, our hope for the future, our ability to live today, the possibility of overcoming all sin, and our trust in Christ’s sacrificial gift are all made real and attainable by way of the resurrection. We are indeed given the power to live because He lives today.

Listen to the words of Paul who confirms this in I Corinthians 15:13-20. But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.

A second confusion is found in the fact that Easter can be an empty moment of time, if we only seek what is in the tomb. For some, the three days after Christ’s death on the cross and the moments immediately preceding the resurrection were a time of disappointment. You see there was no expectation of the resurrection. There was no hope for a risen Lord. Do you know why I say this? If the disciples believed that He was going to be raised, don’t you think they would have been lining up outside of the tomb waiting for Him, but not one of them turned up. No one showed.

A few years ago I had the privilege of attending the opening game of the 2009 College football season at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, GA. That year Alabama and Virginia Tech were playing in the Chic-fil-A opening game. My brother had purchased tickets for me, so I made arrangements to travel to Georgia to see this game. Here is why I share this. There was an expectation in my heart for the game. I had purchased the tickets. The schedule said they would be playing that day. I had been given this promise by virtue of purchasing the ticket. Because of the anticipation and expectation, we arrived at the stadium at 10:00AM that day, even though the game did not start until 7:00PM that evening. Why? We wanted to get in all of the excitement and festivities of the day. We wanted to enjoy every moment of the day. We wanted to be there when the players left the hotel and boarded the bus for the game. We wanted to be there for the pre-game warm ups. The point is we will filled with expectation.

Can you imagine what the atmosphere around the tomb would have been like if the disciples and the people of Jesus’ day truly expected Him to rise? The area around the tomb would have been crowded with people pushing and shoving to get a view of this event. I am sure there would have been those gathered around the tomb to take bets on the exact moment he would rise. There would be reporters waiting for the event so they could scoop the other reporters on the scene. The Romans would have been there, ready to arrest Jesus again, so that they could control the crowd and control the acclaim that would come by this one event. But no one showed.

No one showed. No one was there. You see no one expected Him to rise from the dead. When someone did show, they came not to celebrate the risen Lord. They did not come with expectant hearts and the anticipation of an empty tomb but they came in fact to finish the burial process. They came with an expectation of death and not life. Notice from our text this morning that the women showed up to anoint Jesus’s body but they were startled by the fact the tomb was empty. They did not expect Him to live again.

The point here is that we must come to Christ with expectation that what He says He will do. If we come expecting death, we might get what we are looking for; but if we come looking for life, we will not find it in the empty tomb. We find in the person of Jesus Christ, the risen Lord. Whether we expect an empty tomb or not, does not change the fact that the tomb is empty and there is life to be had. The lesson here is do not let the circumstances of the moment dictate your actions.

But what does all of this mean for us today. Because of the death and resurrection of Christ we can be free and forgiven. Romans 4:25 – It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification. You see too many times our expectation is that our sin or the things we have done are too big or too great for God to forgive us. But that is why He rose again in such a spectacular way. God does not just forgive us which would be powerful enough, but he wipes the slate clean. He justifies us, which means, he treats us as if we never committed the sin that we needed forgiveness for in the first place. This means that we do not have to walk in shame or condemnation but as one who is free and as one who has a clean slate.

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Copyright 2014 All Rights Reserved – Robert W. Odom

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