Easter People

John 20.1-23

Why is this night different from all other nights?
That’s what a young child asks at Passover during the Jewish Passover
meal. And the answer is, This is the night that God delivered his
people from slavery in Egypt.

Why is this day different from all other days?
This is the day God delivered us from slavery to sin and death, and has
given us new life! (although every Sunday is resurrection day).

Jesus prepared his disciples in advance …
On at least three occasions, Jesus had tried to prepare his disciples
for what was going to happen to him. (See Mark 8.31; Mark 9.30-31; Mark
). But there was no way for them to really be prepared for what
was about to happen to Jesus. They had to experience it all – the
betrayal, the torture, the grieving, and then there was the missing
body report. What did it all mean?

On the day following the Sabbath, people began to discover that the
tomb is empty. Either Jesus’ body has been removed, or he has risen
from the dead, just as he said he would.

Women first …
A group of women were the first to the tomb, the first to discover the
resurrection Christ, and arguably the first evangelists (those who tell
good news). And you’ve got to love the response of the disciples in Luke’s account:
"They told the apostles what had happened, but the story sounded like
nonsense, so they didn’t believe it" (Luke 24.10-11).

Those who hear the women dismiss their news as "nonsense." The Greek word is laros,
a term used only this once in the New Testament. It’s derived from a
technical medical term describing the delirium caused by high fever.
The way Luke (the physician) uses it here is in a familiar, even
sarcastic way. In other words, those who first heard the women’s
account of the empty tomb and Jesus’ rising responded by exclaiming,
“They’re nuts!”

It’s a Process
Notice that Jesus did not appear to everyone all at once. He appeared to many over the course
of time. First, to the women at the tomb, then to the ten disciples who
were gathered together, then to Thomas a week later, and then he was
seen by hundreds of others over the course of his 40 days on earth
after the resurrection.

I believe it’s always been that way. God reveals himself to us through
a process. This means that we, like the early disciples, are at
different stages in the process. Where are you? Have you seen the
resurrected Jesus? Are you ready to embrace him?

New Birth
One of the ways to describe salvation is "new birth." People who have
received new birth in Christ have gone from spiritual death to
spiritual life.

“I can really know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised
him from the dead. I can learn what it means to suffer with him,
sharing in his death, so that, somehow, I can experience the
resurrection from the dead!” (Philippians 3.10-11)

Easter people not only believe that Jesus lived, died, and rose again, but have experienced Christ’s resurrection firsthand.

Seeing Jesus
Notice that Christ’s followers believed in the resurrection after they
saw Jesus — the women, the disciples, and finally many others. While
Jesus did say that those who do not see, but still believe, are
blessed, I believe that the same is true today. In order for people to
believe in Jesus, to believe that Jesus lives, they must see Jesus. And
one of the primary ways that God intends for them to see Jesus is in and through us!

I love what Paul says in 2 Corinthians 4.7-12: "this precious treasure
[…] is held in perishable containers, that is, in our weak bodies. So
everyone can see that our glorious power is from God and is not our
own. […] Through suffering, these bodies of ours constantly share in
the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our
bodies. Yes, we live under constant danger of death because we serve
Jesus, so that the life of Jesus will be obvious in our dying bodies.
So we live in the face of death, but it has resulted in eternal life
for you."

People catch a glimpse of Jesus through you and me!

Valley of Dry Bones
There’s a great story in Ezekiel that shows what can happen for people who are spiritually dead: Ezekiel 37.1-14

Easter people have had new life breathed into them!

God is still breathing new life …
And the good news is, God is still breathing new life into all who will
let him. The gathering of Easter people is not a closed group. If you
have not experienced new life in Christ, we invite you to open up your
life to him today. Let God breathe new life into you!

Cassie Bernall’s story
“…Cassie Bernall, the 17-year-old student at Columbine High School
who died of a gunshot wound confessing her faith, had been adrift for
awhile in school, played around with drugs, was interested in
witchcraft, and worried her parents so much that they moved her from a
public school to a Christian school. She hated the new place, but when
a friend invited her to a Christian camp, she went, and it changed her

She asked to be put back in public school, where she talked with
classmates who were willing to listen about her belief in Christ. She
began to go with her youth group to an inner city storefront church in
Denver which ministered to street people, prostitutes, and drug
addicts. But on April 20, in the Columbine library, she was confronted
by a young gunman who asked, ‘Do you believe in God?’ A friend who
watched this happen says that she paused, knowing what the answer would
probably mean, and then said, ‘Yes, I believe in God.’ The gunman
asked, ‘Why?’ and then without waiting for an answer, shot her.”

Some days later her brother found something Cassie had written: “Now I
have given up everything else — I have found it to be the only way to
really know Christ and to experience the mighty power that brought him
back to life again, and to find out what it really means to suffer and
to die with him. So, whatever it takes, I will be one who lives in the
fresh newness of life of those who are alive from the dead.”

Easter people have died to themselves and this life, so that they can have the life that only God can give.

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