Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.
1 Corinthians 15:1-8 (ESV)
May I wish you a very happy… Easter? I hesitate over the word because actually “Easter” doesn’t appear in the Bible. While I realise some translations include the term, it actually isn’t a biblical word at all. Easter probably comes from the pre-Christian celebration of the goddess “Eostre” which occurred at the beginning of spring. At some point in history, our celebration of the Resurrection of Christ took over the name of the festival.
I much prefer the term – Resurrection Sunday, rather than Easter Sunday therefore – but I digress…
Whatever you choose to call it, it’s the time of year when we remember and celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This was perhaps the most important moment in human history, alongside the Creation, as it marks the time when God dealt with sin once and for all. From that time on, whenever someone puts their trust in Jesus, they become “dead to sin but alive in Christ”. They receive eternal life and are born again into God’s family.
Paul, in 1 Corinthians 15 quoted above, gives us a concise and clear explanation of the Gospel – the good news about Jesus.
The Gospel is:
- Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures,
- he was buried, and
- he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared… to many
Jesus lived a perfect life, fulfilling every aspect of the Law of Moses. He was never tainted by iniquity, and so was the perfect sacrifice for our sin. He died the death of a sinner on our behalf. He was tortured and crucified so that you and I might go free.
Christ was buried.
They put His body into a tomb carved from the rock. It was a tomb where no one had been laid before. According to the Scriptures, He would stay there for three whole days.
But which Scriptures? Where does it say that Christ would spend three days in the grave?
In Genesis 22, we read the account of Abraham being asked to sacrifice his only son – Isaac. If we’ve been paying attention, we’ll realise that Abraham had more than one son, and so something else must be going on here. In fact, the whole account is Abraham acting out a prophecy of what God the Father would one day do with His Only Son.
Nearer to Father’s Day, i’ll upload a sermon about this…
From the moment Abraham was given the command to sacrifice Isaac, until he arrived at the place God chose, was exactly three days. In Abraham’s mind, his son was dead from the moment the command was given and so, to Abraham, Isaac had been dead for three days when the stay of execution was granted.
Likewise, when Jonah was swallowed by the great fish/whale, he was in its belly for three days and nights before he was “vomited” onto the beach! No one said resurrection wouldn’t be messy!.
Christ was resurrected
Often when we share the gospel, we say something like… Jesus lived a perfect life and died for our sins on a cross. Therefore, if you put your trust in Him, your sins are forgiven.
What’s wrong with that, you may ask, and it’s pretty much what you’ve said above?
We somehow forget the Resurrection. The Gospel does not end with the cross.
We must never omit the resurrection from our Gospel preaching. If the cross enables God’s justice and our forgiveness, then the resurrection enables our new life in Christ. Without being born again, we are stuck forever with our sinful, fleshy nature and have no hope of changing our lives. The cross deals with our sin, but the resurrection enables us to be new creatures in Christ.
I conclude with these words from John’s Gospel. It includes perhaps the most famous verse of them all, “for God so loved the world…” It also includes Jesus’ teaching on being born again. We must, each one of us, be born into eternal life – new life in Christ.
I hope you enjoy this season celebrating the Resurrection!
3 Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again[b] he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 4 Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” 5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.
John 3:3-5 (ESV)
16 “For God so loved the world,[i] that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.
John 3:16-18 (ESV)