Easter 2017

Holy-Week-Meaning-and-TraditionsLast night was an amazing Good Friday service at Lompoc Foursquare. It was moving to consider deeply and to reflect upon the sacrifices Jesus made for each of us.

Easter: The Resurrection of Jesus Christ

Easter is here!  We have our first of four Easter services tonight at 6:00 pm with the next three tomorrow at 8, 9:30 and 10:45 am. We also have Live Stream (church online) amazing kids Hunt for Easter (more than just eggs and candy but a discovery of the Risen Jesus). Our hospitality team and greeters and those who volunteer to clean the grounds prior to arrivals…….The reason I cite this is the many amazing servants who make it all happen.  It is the heart of God at work. Thank you. I love my church!

 

Easter is here……and for some it is bunnies, chocolate, eggs, BBQs, dinners and of course peeps! For many it is the celebration of Jesus death and resurrection for the dead. Easter Sunday reminds us that God’s love and power came to our Earth, even to the point of the death of the Savior, Jesus and the power of His resurrection.

I firmly believe in the resurrection for many reasons, but here are a few:

1/ The empty tomb. The stone rolled away and the grave was empty. The women who first arrived there following the resurrection had been there just two days before. They knew the tomb and were amazed when they came to place spices on the body of Jesus that He was not there.  Later, John and Peter came and saw that Jesus was risen.

2/ The eyewitnesses. There were many who saw Jesus himself after her rose from the dead. No one was expecting a resurrection but then they saw Him. Most notable was Thomas, who refused to believe until he could touch Jesus and the marks from the cross on his hands and side. Jesus came to him, invited him to touch, and the famous response: “My Lord and my God!” Jesus was seen by over 500 people and many were still living when some of the New Testament was written.  They could have easily refuted the resurrection story if it was not true, but rather then collaborated it as each shared eyewitness accounts as they gathered to worship God in the early church. There is no way that ‘fake news’ of Jesus could have been told with that many witnesses of Jesus Himself after the resurrection.

3/ The growth of the church. Unless he was crucified and then bodily raised from the dead. How else do we account for the rapid growth of the church? Jesus said, “I will build my church” to a handful of people. Today, there are millions of churches of all shapes,m sizes and styles who believe in Jesus Christ and the story of Easter. Nearly one third of the world’s population is Christian. Many who helped build the early churches were persecuted and even martyred for their faith. Would anyone be willing to die for a hoax?

 4/ The conversion of Saul. Saul, who was renamed Paul, was of Jewish heritage, well-educated in and obedient to Jewish law, a Roman citizen, and was convinced Christianity was heresy. He was a zealot who persecuted those who followed Jesus Christ. We find him a few years later radically transformed and preaching Jesus as Messiah and proclaiming salvation only by faith and through the Cross of Christ and the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  For a Jew the Cross was an object of curse, and for a Roman, the Cross was reserved for the worst of criminals. For Paul to be grateful for the death of Jesus on the cross and to proclaim its eternal value would be ridiculous, unless the crucified one rose from the dead, proving He was Messiah and Lord.

5/ Jesus’ resurrection means that death is defeated once and for all.  50 days after the first Easter, Peter proclaimed “God raised [Jesus] from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to its hold on him” (Acts 2:24) Death lost its grip on Jesus! But the resurrection means that Jesus not only defeated death for himself, but that he defeated it for us. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive” (I Corinthians 15: 20 – 22). Our faith in His death and resurrection guarantees ours.

What does this mean to us today? In one sense, Jesus Christ is still on trial. He’s on trial in the heart and mind of every person who has not yet acknowledged him as the Son of God, the Savior of the world.

What’s your verdict? You see, Easter really boils down to only two issues. One, is Jesus who he says he is? Is he God? Or is he a lunatic or a liar? And two, if he is who he says he is, when are you going to start following what he says to do with your life?

Today, you sit in judgment of Jesus Christ. Just as Pilate asked, “What shall I do then with Jesus who is called the Christ?” you also must decide whether he was who he said or not.

Are you willing to gamble your life that he was wrong?

He is Lord, He is Savior, He loves and desires to see you free, forgiven and alive in Him.

He is risen, risen indeed!

Bernie

 

 

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