Some of you, maybe this is your first time gathering with a church in worship and you’re wondering, why are these crazy people out here and not even 50 degrees yet, celebrating this? And for us in the church, we’ve always appreciated this time, as Easter time, being able to get together as one collective family because Easter matters. In fact, that’s really the question I want to answer for us and I’m going to do it quickly today, but why that Easter matters is because of the resurrection. It’s more than bunnies. In fact, really bunnies don’t have a whole lot to do with what the Christian intention of Easter is other than Jesus made bunnies and we should be thankful for them.
But not only why does Easter matter, but more importantly, we can ask the question, why does the resurrection matter? I mean, every Christian should have an answer to that and if you’re investigating Christianity, being able to understand what makes this day so significant historically for the body of Christ and what it should mean to your life. Why does the resurrection matter? And if you were able to grab some notes this morning, I’m going to just give you three points in understanding that and a picture into Christianity.
The first is this. When it comes to Christianity, Christianity rises or falls on the resurrection. In fact, in 1 Corinthians 15, the Apostle Paul said it like this in verse 14. He said, “And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith also is in vain.” Verse 17, he goes on and says, “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless and you are still in your sins.” Some translations say your faith is foolishness, which to me makes me think Paul is the original Mr. T. Right? I pity the fool. That’s a bad joke. Okay.
When you think about what Paul, the Apostle Paul is saying in this passage of scripture, all of Christianity, it becomes central to the idea of the resurrection and apart from the resurrection, there is no point to this Christian faith. The resurrection is paramount to who we are in Jesus and if Christ was not raised from the dead, then we are not rescued. Not only is Jesus still dead, that we in our faith, our souls will remain dead. And so if Christianity isn’t true, if the resurrection isn’t true, then Christianity, isn’t true and we shouldn’t follow it. But if it is true, if the resurrection of Christ is true, that changes everything.
All of Christianity rises and falls on the resurrection of Christ. And if it’s true, then God really did become flesh and God died for his enemies, you and me, because we were still sinners against a holy God and Jesus conquered sin, Satan, and death, and God became personal and God extended the way for us to have a relationship with him and to be forgiven with him and to have hope in him and eternal life in him, that the greatest gift that you could have been given, is literally the life of God on your behalf, so that you can find freedom in him. There is no greater value in anything, in all of creation, than that. Which means your life then has incredible worth because of Jesus’s life given for you. All of Christianity rises and falls on the resurrection.
Then the follow-up question that we should ask then is, is it reliable? Is the resurrection of Christ reliable? And point number two is just to simply make this point. The resurrection is completely reliable. The resurrection is reliable. In fact, there are multiple places that you can study both historically and biblically to point that out. I don’t want to go through a gamut of reasons that you can see why the resurrection is reliable. In fact, if you grab some notes this morning, or if you download the Alpine Bible Church app, and you click on the word notes on the very opening of the Alpine Bible Church app, you’ll see a blog under point number two, that lists several reasons. Several reasons why the Resurrection is reliable. But I just want to me give you a few.
When you think about Jesus’ life, there is no question that Jesus was dead. Jesus was killed by professional executioners. Their entire job in Rome was to make sure people were dead. In fact, if they didn’t carry out those orders, then the requirement would’ve been then their life would’ve been taken. People day in, day out, their entire jobs are to execute. Jesus dead. Laid in a tomb for three days. No medical attention.
In John chapter 20, when the women showed up to the tomb, the first to come to the tomb to discover that it was empty, their question or their statement wasn’t about the resurrection Jesus. Their question was to someone in verse 15, they thought was the gardener. And they asked them, “Where have you laid the body? Tell us so that we can have him.” There was no doubt Jesus was killed.
But in the Old Testament, it was prophetically stated in Psalm 16:10, for one, that he would not be left in the grave. Even Jesus taught us in Matthew 12:40-41, that he would give us the sign of Jonah, that he was the true Messiah, that he would go into the belly of the earth for three days and resurrect. Jesus even declared to his disciples in Matthew 16:20-21, that he was to die but he wouldn’t stay dead. The Bible records for us that Jesus would not only die, but he would also be resurrected and then we have early manuscript accounts of what happened with Jesus’s life, both biblically and externally from scripture. That data’s early into the first century of writing about this Jesus whose life was executed professionally by these killers, by Rome, by the Jews who hated him. But yet he overcame the grave.
In fact, the Bible is full of eyewitness testimony. 1 Corinthians 15 from the chapter I just read from, verse six, Paul tells us that Jesus appeared to multiple people after his resurrection. In fact, he appeared to 500 people at one time and the reason Paul says this in the first century, the reason he’s writing this is so he’s saying to people, “Look, if you don’t believe me, there are people still walking on this earth that you can go ask about the resurrected Jesus.” Hundreds of people saw this resurrected Jesus at one time.
In 1 Peter 1:16, Paul says, or Peter says, “We’re not giving you clever fables, but we’re giving you eyewitness testimony.” When Luke wrote the gospel of Luke, in the book of Acts, the very beginning, he tells us in Luke 1:2, that he went on a journey to investigate and to ask people who personally experienced the life of Jesus and the resurrection of Jesus. So that when he recorded the gospel of Acts, he wanted us to have an accurate count of his life. If I witness testimony.
But I think for me, one of the most important points to the validity of the resurrection is that you had traders and enemies become followers and martyrs. If you’re going to make up a story like this, and you read the New Testament account, especially the gospels about Jesus’ early followers, his closest followers, when Jesus was taken by Rome to be crucified, it records for us in the gospels that they all abandoned them. They became traders to the cause in which Christ had called them on. If you’re going to make up a story like that, at least make yourself look good, but they didn’t care about whether or not they looked good because their message wasn’t about looking good. Their message was about the truth.
And yet you have these individuals that follow Jesus for three years of ministry, completely abandon him, and all of a sudden, they come back and pursuing Jesus with incredible boldness. What changed? What changed to give them such authority to go into this world, that they went to the ends of the earth and the early disciples, all but one suffered martyrdom and the one that didn’t was cast in the Island of Patmos, isolated in prison. What happened to give them that courage?
Sometimes I say to us as a church, people die for ideology all the time. That’s not impressive. But when it comes to the biblical message, the biblical message is not about an ideology. The biblical message is about a truth claim that a dead man was walking and the disciples had seen the resurrected Christ and they couldn’t deny it. And because of that, their lives were radically transformed. They went from traders and cowards to faithful followers, to the point of martyrdom because they could not deny the truth that they had seen Jesus resurrected from the grave. Why does the resurrection matter? Well, not only does Christianity rise or fall on the resurrection, the resurrection is also reliable for those who put their faith in it.
And then point number three and I think this is the most important point I can tell us this morning. If I said to you, “Describe for me the whole point of Easter,” how would you define it? Or better yet, before you think about it, let me tell you an answer. Six words; two phrases. It is finished. He has risen. All of Easter, the whole point of this Resurrection Sunday, it could be summarized in those six words, those two phrases; it is finished and he is risen.
In John 19:30, Jesus gives us this statement as he hangs on the cross. He says, “Therefore, when Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, ‘It is finished,’ and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.” Can I tell you as a pastor, the greatest struggle I see in the life of anyone, believer or not, is in their faith resting in that statement or where their faith rests in that statement. It is finished.
Guys, can I tell you out of all the words Jesus spoke in the gospels, for me the most weightiest phrase he ever gave us was that statement on the cross. It is finished. Because in that statement is absolute freedom for what it means to be a follower of Jesus. This idea of it is finished, comes from the biblical language of being ransomed. It carries this thought and I think Jesus had in mind. It was first used in Moses, with Moses in the Exodus, talking about the children of Israel. They were slaves to Egypt and God came in and God ransomed them from slavery into freedom and Jesus used that similar word language to describe his life on the cross and what it represented for us. That when Jesus died on the cross, he died for every one of your sins. Jesus died for your entire life. Jesus paid it in full.
In fact, in Jesus’s day, one’s someone would buy a slave off a slave market, that is the statement that was stamped on the receipt. It is finished, paid in full. There’s nothing more you can add to what Christ has done on your behalf. But yet I find in life, as people, we struggle to believe that. I think even, even the first century, you can look at different people as they walked in the statement that Jesus made here, someone like Judas. We could respond the way Judas responded, which was a traitor to Jesus. He was very selfish. He really followed Jesus, but really for his own gain and when he realized that wasn’t going to work out for him, Judas selfishly chose himself and didn’t let the words of Christ deliver the freedom to his soul, as he believed what Jesus was going to accomplish for him.
Or we could respond like the crowd on a day like this, the crowd that followed Jesus. They were simply in it for a matter of convenience. Jesus was like the circus come to town. He could turn a few loaves in the feeding and in thousands of people, why not follow Jesus. It’s entertaining for the day. And when Jesus went into Jerusalem for the last time, they herald him as king, right? “Hosannah. Blessed as he who comes in the name of the Lord.” But as soon as they saw Rome capture Jesus, they began to chant, “Crucify him.” Just wasn’t convenient.
Or we could respond and I think this is the tendency of really all of us at some point in life. We could respond to Jesus’s statement religiously. It is finished. Religiously, we could look at that statement and question Jesus. We could say to him, “But Lord, is it really enough for me. Is it really enough for me?” And in lacking faith to believe that statement, we start to perform works as if it’s going to add anymore to what God’s life hasn’t already paid for you.
There is nothing you can do in this life to make God love you more. There is nothing you have done in life that makes God love you less. Bible tells us in 1 John 4, that he is love and love compels itself to give itself away. Which is why Paul says in Romans 5:8, “And while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” He’s saying to us, in the worst state that you could ever think of yourself, the worst position you’ve ever been in life, God’s love was relentless and didn’t even give up on you there, and it will not give up on you today.
It is finished. In fact, I would go so far as to say this. That when we doubt the goodness of God, and we don’t believe in the phrase that, it is finished, and we try to add to what Christ has done as if that makes God love us more, we’re diminishing from the beauty of Jesus’ sacrifice for our lives. Before Holy God, I find that thought to even be blasphemous. To expect Creator God, that there is something that I could offer to him that he can’t do himself. But rather what’s more important for our lives is to embrace the truth.
It is finished. There are no more freer words in your relationship to God than that. Jesus thinking of you died on that cross. It is finished. And I know in that struggle, we may come to that question and say, “But you don’t know me and how do you really know that what Jesus did for me on the cross us, it was really enough for my life?” And I would say it’s because of the second phrase I told you. He has risen. He has risen. That’s the way the first century church knew that the credibility of Jesus’ sacrifice was enough and that’s the way the church has continue to move forward. The demonstration that Jesus’s life paid for us, in full, when it was verified by the fact that Christ was resurrected from the grave. It is the evidence that his sacrifice was enough, which is why the resurrection becomes paramount to the Christian faith.
Some may ask the question of, I’ve often heard the rebuttal. “Well then if Jesus is enough, why then do we feel the need to do good things in this world? Why don’t we just continue to live the way that we want in this world because well, Jesus paid it all.” And Paul answers that question perfectly in Romans 6:1. Listen to this. Paul says this. “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that Grace may increase?” He’s saying, “Look, if God’s grace saved us, let’s just keep living sinfully because it’s going to show just how gracious God is.” And then he answers his own question. He says this verse two. “Far from it. How shall we who died to sin still live in it? Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into his death. Therefore, we have been buried with him through the baptism into death, so that just as Christ was raised in the dead, through the glory of the Father, so we too may walk in the newness of life.”
What he’s saying now in Jesus is this. Once you’ve been introduced to the love and grace of God, once God has connected that relationship with you again, that sin that has separated you no more. If you’ve placed your faith in Jesus, you now find that freedom in Christ and now you get a daily relationship with the Lord and your life is called to greater purpose and you get to demonstrate the glory of who God is in his grace as you live your life. Why would you do anything else but to know this God and to live for this God and the way that you walk in this world?
It only makes sense that if God would give his very life for you, that in response to such a gracious gift, that you would surrender your life back to him. That Christians, when we live a life of good works, we’re not trying to earn God’s love, but we live in response of God’s love. Because he completely loves us that we’re able to walk in the freedom of his grace.
That’s what this picture of baptism is about for the early church. He’s describing baptism in this and baptism in the Bible means immersion. It’s this idea of immersion that in Jesus, if you put your faith in Jesus, you’ve been completely immersed into the grace of God. It has washed you new, completely forgiven. And so when Christians get baptized, it’s this demonstration of what God has done in our lives inwardly by forgiving our sins and cleansing us and opening up a relationship to him. It’s this outward demonstration of the goodness of who our king is. We’ve surrendered ourselves to him.
So here’s the question for all of us. Have you done that? Maybe I could make it personal for both Christian and today, if you don’t know if your faith is in Jesus. How would your life look differently if you really believe, from this day forward, never doubting it. It is finished. What would that mean to you as a Christian, if you struggle in understanding that. If from this day forward, you never doubted again, the grace of God demonstrated in your life and you just clung to those words by Jesus and allowed the love of God and the forgiveness that God pour into your life because it is finished.
Or what about you, if you’re not sure where you are in the Lord? What can that phrase mean to you today? As a Christian, I think it’s important for you to know this morning, that when we talk about a relationship with God, we only mean a celestial relationship with God. We’re talking about straight into his presence that that kingdom, for which Christ has called us to. In fact, when the thief hung on the cross, Jesus said to the thief, “You will be with me in paradise.”
And in 2 Corinthians 12:2-4, Paul tells us that the third heaven is the paradise for which God calls us to. That for us, we’re created entirely for a relationship with God and where God dwells, that is heaven. And what God calls us to, is to be introduced in that relationship and it’s all because of that phrase; it is finished.
John 8:24 gives us this warning. “Unless you believe that I am He, You will die in your sins. Unless you believe that I am He.” There’s not a person here that wants to meet God with sin in their life. But all of us this morning, and my prayer for all of us is, that our hearts would be given fully over to the statement that Jesus accomplished for us on the cross. It is finished.
I’m going to go ahead and invite the band back up as we get ready to… We’re going to sing these last couple of songs together. For you that are getting baptized, I’m going to invite you up as well as the band gets ready to play. But friends, let me just tell you, if you’re here this morning and you have something in your life that you’re struggling with that you want prayer for. If you don’t know whether or not you know Jesus and you want to talk to somebody about that, at the back of the tent, we’re going to have a few people standing back here. They’re going to have some green lanyards on and they’re willing to just take some time to step aside with you and be able to pray with you, to talk to you about what it means to know the Lord. I want to give you an opportunity, as the band gets ready to play, I’m going to pray for us.
But if you’re not sure where you are in Christ, I can’t think of a more beautiful day to turn your life over to him than in a day like today because of what Jesus represents on Easter. If you have something where you’re struggling in life and you’re just you’re questioning the grace of God or whether or not Jesus really is enough, we have people in the back that are willing to pray with you and I’m going to pray for us now and I’m going to turn it over to the band to let them lead us in a song, and we’re going to partake a communion and baptism. Let’s pray.