“Do you like Easter?”

John 20.1-18

Do you like Easter? We all look forward to Easter don’t we? Easter is a sign that spring is here or on the way. We look forward to everything turning green and the first flowers are coming up. The first of my tulips bloomed just this week! We look forward to this very special day of worship. Little girls look forward to getting all dressed up in their Easter dresses. The kids get to have Easter egg hunts and they look forward to hunting for Easter baskets on Sunday morming. We look forward to family visiting and gathering together for an Easter feast – always the traditional ham dinner at our home. And we get to talk and sing about the resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. It’s a glorious time all around.

Do you like Easter? Yes, we probably all like Easter. But, do you know there would not be an Easter without the previous events of Holy Week. We probably like to hear the story of Easter more than the story of Holy Thursday or Good Friday, but without them there would be no Easter. Holy Week is the story ~of betrayal … by a friend, a follower. A story of the arrest of Jesus, of false accusations, of injustice, of beatings, abuse, and mockery. Holy Week is the story of a death sentence, undeserved. Death on a cross – a death which is despised, cursed, one that brought shame. It was an embarrassment for the family, for anyone that knew or associated with that individual. And this crucifixion was a scary time, for at midday darkness fell over the earth, creation was ripped apart by a devastating earthquake.

Do you like Easter? Oh, yes, Easter makes those events of Holy Week bearable because we know Easter is coming. Easter a day of celebration, a day of new birth (symbolized in the egg, the lambs, the chicks, the bunnies.) Easter is a day filled with hope. It is a day we anticipate.

But we can’t have Easter without Holy Week. We can’t have the resurrection story without Good Friday. We can’t have an empty tomb with out the cross. There is no new life without death.

We come to Easter to celebrate the promise of new life, a new life that was bought with a price.

My life and your life was the price; we were the ones who deserved to die. But Jesus stood up and said, “I’ll die instead.”
“Put their sin on me.”
“Put Joleen’s sin on me.”
“I’ll die for her.”
“Put … you supply your name … I’ll die for him and for her.”

All we have is sin to give. During Lent we looked at the 7 Deadly Sins: pride, envy, anger, sloth, avarice, lust, gluttony. Jesus came to die for those sins.

But we learned in Lent, we can’t just give our sin to Jesus; we give ourselves to Jesus and Jesus takes our sin. We have to yield our lives, surrender our lives and he takes our sin and then we experience Easter!

Easter comes alive in us … Jesus raises us to new life. Jesus plants within us a seed, which if we continue to nurture, we grow more and more like him – we come more and more to life.

Trees need rain and nourishment; they don’t gain leaves overnight – so we slowly, steadily grow as we nourish our new life with God’s Word and prayer and worship and community, and service.

Do you like Easter? Do you like the thought of coming to life – being transformed into the person God originally intended you to be. Sin distorted that person and now as Jesus takes the sin away, our lives are like a piece of silver that is black with tarnish, and Jesus removes the tarnish (with his blood) so that once again his reflection is seen in our lives.

Do you like Easter? If you like Easter, I have a surprise for you. There’s going to be a day kind of like Easter, except different. It’s a resurrection day, too.

1 Thessalonians 4.13-18

There is another resurrection day! There is another Easter, per say. Jesus was the first to rise from the dead to live forever, to live for all eternity. There is a day coming when all who have experienced death will rise again to a life that will last forever. And those of us who are still living will be caught away never to know a physical death. Isn’t that exiting?

Do you like Easter? Easter is a promise that Jesus will come again. Jesus conquered death and as he conquered death in the physical realm, he will conquer that death for us, but that promise is yet to be fulfilled. The spiritual life that he brings us is a foretaste of that which is to come.

In the new life that you have now in Christ Jesus, you still experience hardships, you may experience illness, living in this world where there are those who have not yet accepted Christ, sin will brush against you. You will experience temptations yet.

But the promise of the second coming is a promise that you will not experience those things ever again.

Revelation 21.4-5a
Easter is a promise that as Jesus brings us new life in the present; he will bring a completeness to that new life at his second coming.

Do you like Easter? You are really going to like this day! Not only will our salvation be complete, our life completely restored, but Jesus exaltation will be complete. We, as believers, exalt Jesus now; but not everyone believes, not everyone worships Jesus, and we as believers all fall short of the complete and total worship that is due Him.

Philippians 2.10-11

We like Easter today, and we are here to celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. We are here to give him the worship that is due him. But you and I know that there are those today who are not worshiping; there are those who a grateful for a long weekend, for another day off from work. But there is a greater day of worship coming, when "every knee will bow and every tongue will confess!" Won’t that be a glorious day? Jesus will get the full worship he deserves. The actions of his death and resurrection will be fully recognized as being done willingly out of his love for us. Those who do not believe, will believe. Those who have placed their trust in other things, will see Who deserves their trust, their faith, their commitment.

Yes, if you like Easter, you’re really going to like this day!

Knowing this day is coming, keeps Easter alive all the year through. It keeps the celebration alive in our hearts. It keeps our hearts focused on things eternal. It helps us order our lives according to what is eternally significant. It reminds us of the new life that is birthed in us and continues to grow in us preparing us for that day, when like that first Easter, when Mary saw Jesus, we, too, shall see Jesus face to face.

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