On Easter, it is important to remember Christ’s resurrection and the meaning, purpose and principle behind it. In this sermon, Greg shows how the meaning of Jesus’ resurrection has changed over time and how we should be looking at it.
Even though the Resurrection involves a supernatural event, it is one of the best attested facts in history. The four gospels all attest to it. And Paul names dozens who saw it and refers to another 500 or more that saw it. And it’s difficult to explain how the early disciples came to believe, at the cost to their lives, that Jesus was the embodiment of God on Earth. If the resurrection is true, we can explain this. Otherwise, there is no compelling evidence.
The meaning of Jesus’ death and resurrection has been altered over time in a significant way. In the beginning of the disciples’ ministry, they understood that Jesus’ death and resurrection showed that they needn’t fear this world as they went about their ministry. They sacrificed in order to participate in the resurrection. However, after Rome converted to Christianity, Jesus’ death and resurrection became a message of not having to worry about suffering. Christians stopped sacrificing in order to participate in the resurrection. It became a message of having power and control over this world.
This thinking impedes our ability to live in a self-sacrificial way. This thinking leads us to believe that following Jesus should lead to less suffering. But living a self-sacrificial life is to choose a life that is uncomfortable and choosing some suffering. And, worst of all, this mindset conditions us to be dishonest with ourselves. If our goal is to always be happy, then we will ignore those things that make us unhappy or defeated aspects in our life. The good news of the Resurrection is not that we get to avoid suffering but that there’s a resurrection that comes out of suffering.
We are called to follow the example of Jesus. Jesus did not run from the reality of our fallen condition. He embraced it, suffered for it, and rose again. This Easter, instead of putting on a smile and ignoring those areas of our lives that cause us to suffer, we need to face our sufferings in this world and find resurrection. For the joy set before us, let’s face reality and share in Jesus’ suffering so that we can join in his victory.
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