This weekend means everything to followers of Jesus Christ. Christmas is wonderful and amazing in its own right, but it becomes absolutely meaningless without the celebration of Easter. Truthfully as Christians, we make some pretty astounding claims. I could even see how people who are not Christians believe our ideas are far-fetched. We believe in a personal God who created all things, making man and woman in his image. We believe that humanity sinned and rebelled becoming separated from God. We believe in a God who still works miracles. We believe that God came to earth as a man, born of a virgin. We believe this man, Jesus, lived a sinless life and died on a cross as a substitute for the penalty of our sin. We believe there really is a heaven, a hell, and life beyond the grave. We believe the Bible is the inerrant word of God.
Looking at those beliefs, Christians are either the craziest people in the world or they discovered the most amazing truth in the world. Of course, followers of Jesus believe these truths, but they all hang on one crucial and revolutionary event — the resurrection of Jesus Christ. If Jesus is still in the grave, then everything Christians hold dear falls apart. Our faith is useless without a risen savior. A dead savior is no savior at all. Our sins would not be forgiven, and we would have no hope after death.
Thank God for the resurrection. You simply cannot find the grave of Jesus, because he is no longer there. Death could not defeat him and the grave could not hold him. One of my favorite story of Jesus is when he shows up at the home of his friends Lazarus, Martha and Mary (brother and two sisters). Lazarus had been gravely ill and died. His sisters had sent for Jesus, but Jesus waited until Lazarus died before he came. By the time Jesus arrived, Lazarus had been dead for four days. Martha was the pushy sister and she was a little perturbed. She told Jesus, “If you had been here, my brother would not have died.” (John 11)
Jesus told her that her brother would rise again. Martha said, “Yeah I know he will rise again at the resurrection at the last day.” This was the Jewish belief there would be a resurrection of the dead one day. Jesus then looked at Martha and spoke one of the most powerful truths ever spoken: “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live even though he dies. Everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26).
Jesus wanted her to know that the resurrection was not some far off event, but that she was looking the resurrection right in the eyes. In these brief statements, Jesus basically stated that all the mysteries of heaven, hell and what lies beyond the grave can be found in him. Eventually Jesus raised Lazarus from the grave demonstrating his power and authority over death, and then Jesus himself was raised from the dead fully and finally conquering death once and for all for those would put full trust in him.
The resurrection of Jesus settles it! Our faith is not just based on theological ideas and religious thought and ritual. The faith of Christ followers is based on history. Our leader lived on this earth, walked among us as God in the flesh, was crucified, died and buried — and on the third day he rose again! And as the tomb is now empty, our hearts no longer need to be empty. Our lives can be full with the resurrection life and power of Jesus Christ. Yes, this weekend means everything to us because Jesus means everything to us. And life is worth the living just because he lives. Happy Easter. And that’s the Word.