Easter: Dashed Hope Becomes Victory

2019-04-21 – Year C – Easter Sunday – The Rev. Christopher M. Klukas

Vigil Lessons: Genesis 1:1-2:3; Exodus 14:10-15:1; Ezekiel 36:24-28; Jonah 1:1-2:10; Romans 6:3-11; Matthew 28:1-10 | Principle Service Lessons: Acts 10:34-43; Colossians 3:1-4; Luke 24:1-12

  • Imagine that you are one of Jesus’ disciples. You have followed him for three years. You have laughed with him, cried with him, and seen him do some amazing things.
    • Acts 10:38-39a – Peter describes the ministry of Jesus
  • Then, just as you think he is making his move to start a revolution and become King, he is captured by the authorities and brutally executed by being nailed to a cross. How would you feel?
    • Luke 24:18-31 – A traveler meets two men on the Road to Emmaus on the Sunday after Jesus died, Cleopas describes what happened and how they had “hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel.” By saying this, he is saying that he has given up hope that this is so. It is now a failed movement.
    • Do you hear the sadness and disappointment in his voice?
    • If all you knew about Jesus was that he died on a cross, then he is just another failed rebel leader who tried to become the King of Israel. There were many such leaders in Israel’s history.
  • But there was a glimmer of hope for these two men.
    • Luke 24:22-24 – Rumor of the resurrection.
    • What these men didn’t yet realize is that this man walking with them was the risen Jesus himself, and these rumors of the resurrection were entirely true!
    • Jesus would later reveal his identity to them when they sat down to break bread together that evening.

The Importance of the Resurrection

  • We talk a lot, as Christians, about the cross and how Jesus died for our sins. This is entirely true, and we should talk about it!
    • But Good Friday without Easter is meaningless.
    • 1 Corinthians 15:17-19 – If Christ has not been raised your faith is futile!
      • Think about the disappointment of those two men on the road to Emmaus.
    • 1 Corinthians 15:20-22 – But Christ has been raised!
  • The Resurrection is God’s seal of approval of Jesus’ work on the cross.
    • It is proof that Jesus’ death was not in vain. It was, in fact, a victory, not a failure!
    • The resurrection is the means by which Jesus defeats death forever.
    • There is no resurrection without the crucifixion, and the crucifixion is meaningless without the resurrection. The two go hand in hand.
  • This is why Easter is the most important celebration of the Christian year! It is our defining moment. The event that changes everything and makes us who we are.

What does Jesus’ Resurrection Mean for Us?

  • But what difference does it make in my life?
  • It means that our sins are washed away.
    • Acts 10:43
  • It means that death is not the end for us.
    • 1 Corinthians 15:52b–55
  • It means that we are no longer slaves to sin.
    • Our fallen nature holds us captive, unable to choose the good that God has for us. Romans 6:6–7.
    • Even the notion that “sin is fun and God is keeping us from the fun we want to do” is evidence of our fallen nature.
      • It is the same lie that deceived Adam and Eve in the beginning.
    • God desires good things for us. He wants us to have a life of joy!
      • In fact, Jesus says that he came so that we could “have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10).
      • In the same verse, he says that those who came before him are “thieves and robbers” and that the “thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.”
      • One commentator says, “Jesus calls his followers, not to a dour, lifeless, miserable existence that squashes human potential, but to a rich, full, joyful life, one overflowing with meaningful activities under the personal favor and blessing of God and in continual fellowship with his people.”
      • That is the kind of life I want!
  • So how do we receive this gift of abundant life from Jesus?
    • We pray, confessing our sins, thanking Jesus for the cross, and asking him to be the Lord of our lives.
    • You can pray like this to ask Jesus into your life for the first time, but you can also pray in the same way to return to the Lord if you have been running from him.
    • Prayer of Repentance and Faith “Lord Jesus Christ, I confess my faults, shortcomings, sins, and rebellious acts, and ask you to forgive me. I embrace you, Lord Jesus, as my Savior and Lord. Thank you for your atoning death on the cross in obedience to your Father’s will to put away my sins. I enthrone you, Lord Jesus, to be in charge of every part of my life, and I ask you to indwell and empower me with your Holy Spirit, so that I may live as your faithful follower from now on. Amen.” (ACNA Catechism).
    • If you prayed this prayer now, please tell me or another Christian you trust so we can get you plugged into the church and help you to grow in your discipleship.
  • If you are already walking with Jesus, I want to encourage you with these words. Colossians 3:1-4.

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