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Why is Easter a Big Deal?

Easter  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Introduction

Imagine the most traumatic experience you have ever been through. You have stood on the sideline, watching and having a man you followed and believed in, that you walked with, studied with, fellowshipped with, be falsely accused, tried illegally, and sentenced the most horrible death possible. Three days later, you and a companion are walking down a road, heads hanging low, spirits crushed. You are discussing the events of the weekend, when all of the sudden this stranger shows up and asks you what you are discussing.
Imagine you are the companion with this person named Cleopas. Imagine what you are feeling, what you have seen, what you have known.
Now listen, with that in mind, as if you are there.
Luke 24:13–35 NIV84
Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him. He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?” They stood still, their faces downcast. One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you only a visitor to Jerusalem and do not know the things that have happened there in these days?” “What things?” he asked. “About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.” He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself. As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus acted as if he were going farther. But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.
Luke 24:13-
Why is this a big deal? Glad you asked!
There are three things that stand out in this passage that makes Easter a big deal:
There is the Evidence of the Resurrection
There is the Encouragement of the Resurrection
And, there is the Eternal Significance of the Resurrection.
First,

The Evidence of the Resurrection

Josh McDowell is a Christian Apologist, Evangelist, and Writer. He states about the resurrection, “After more than 700 hours of studying this subject, I have come to the conclusion that the resurrection of Jesus Christ is either one of the most wicked, vicious, heartless hoaxes ever foisted on the minds of human beings — or it is the most remarkable fact of history.”
Jesus of Nazareth, who claimed to be the Christ prophesied in Jewish Scriptures, was arrested, was judged a political criminal and was crucified a criminal’s death. Three days later, after His death and burial, some women went to His tomb and found the stone rolled away and the body gone. In the weeks following, His disciples claimed that God had raised him from the dead and He appeared to them numerous times before ascending into heaven.
From that foundation, Christianity spread throughout the Roman Empire and continues to be a phenomenal influence even today, over 2000 years later.
Dr. E.M. Blaiklock, Professor of Classics at Auckland University, one of the world’s most respected institutions of higher learning, said,
“I claim to be an historian. My approach to the Classics is historical. And I tell you that the evidence for the life, death and the resurrection of Christ is better authenticated than most of the facts of ancient history.”
The New Testament witnesses were very aware of the process in which the burial took place. The body of Jesus, in accordance to the Jewish burial custom, was wrapped in a linen cloth. About 100 pounds of aromatic spices, mixed together to form a gummy substance, were applied to the wrappings of the cloth about the body. The body was then placed in a solid rock tomb, and a stone weighing about 2 and half tons was rolled against the tomb entrance.
A very disciplined Roman guard was stationed to guard the tomb. Should he leave his post, he would be executed. He affixed a Roman seal on the tomb to prevent any attempt at vandalism. Therefore, anyone trying to move the stone would have broken the seal and would have broken Roman law.
However, with all this in place, three days later, guess what? The Tomb was empty. And guess what else....it still is!
Many precautions were made with the trial, crucifixion, burial, entombment, sealing, and guarding of Christ’s tomb.
Consider these pieces of evidence about the resurrection:
The Broken Roman Seal: The first obvious fact is the the breaking of a Roman seal that stood for power and the authority of the Roman Empire had severe consequences. Those that would have done this would have been executed upside down on a cross. People feared this so much that the disciples ran away and hid. Peter denied even knowing Christ 3 times.
The Empty Tomb: It was too notorious to be denied. One historian Paul Maier stated, “…if all the evidence is weighed carefully and fairly, it is indeed justifiable, according the the canons of historical research, to conclude that the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea (where Jesus was buried) was actually empty on the morning of the first Easter. And no shred of evidence has yet been discovered in literary sources, epigraphy, or archaeology that would disprove this statement.”
The Large Stone Removed: The stone as I have stated, was over 2 tons. It was rolled up hill away from the tomb entrance. It was in a position as if it was picked up and carried away.
The Roman Guard is AWOL: The guards were gone. They left their position and their place of responsibility. They were so fearful of their superiors and paid so close to the details of their orders, that the fear of punishment (as another secular historian Dr. George Currie wrote) “produced flawless attention to duty, especially at night watches.”
The Grave clothes Tell a Tale: The grave clothes were were caved in and empty. Remember all the 100 pounds of sticky substance applied to the grave clothes? It was like the empty chrysalis of a caterpillar’s cocoon. John never got over the empty grave clothes
John 20:3–9 NIV84
So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. Then Simon Peter, who was behind him, arrived and went into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the burial cloth that had been around Jesus’ head. The cloth was folded up by itself, separate from the linen. Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. (They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.)
John 20:3-
6. The Number of the Appearances of Jesus: The Bible tells us that the followers of Jesus said He appeared to them during a period of 40 days. In fact, there were over 500 witnesses that claim to have seen Jesus after the Resurrection. If you were to take those 500 witnesses in to a court of law, had the testify for just 6 minutes about what they had seen, do you realize that there would be over 50 hours of firsthand testimony?
That is just some of the evidence of the resurrection. Notice next the

The Encouragement of the Resurrection

The people walking on the road to Emmaus were down and out. They were struggling mentally, emotionally and spiritually. They did not understand what had happened. There were hurting.
Here is the encouragement I find: When you are down and out, you can talk to Jesus. When you are going through stuff you cannot understand, you can talk to Jesus. When you are struggling and not understanding, you can talk to Jesus.
Romans 8:34 NIV84
Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.
Jesus is willing to walk alongside with us and participate in life with us.
Psalm 62:8 NIV84
Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge. Selah
Psalm 62:8 NIV84
Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge. Selah
Psalm
Psalm 62:
Charles Spurgeon said, “Those griefs that are silent run days and drown the soul in misery. It is good to let sorrow have a tongue where sympathy has an ear.”
Another encoudht
We have the evidence of the resurrection, we have the encouragement of the resurrection, and finally we have the Eternal Significance of the Resurrection.

The Eternal Significance of the Resurrection

First and foremost, the resurrection clears the way for you and I as unholy people to access a very Holy God, God the Father of All!
John 14:6 NIV84
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
Second, the resurrection clears the way for my salvation and the forgiveness of my sins
Acts 4:12 NIV84
Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”
Acts 10:41–42 NIV84
He was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom God had already chosen—by us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead.
Third, the resurrection clears the way for me to approach the throne of God boldly and confidently.
Hebrews 4:16 NIV84
Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
Fourthly, the resurrection clears the way for me to share my faith boldly. When we learn who Jesus is and understand the glorious truths of scripture, we have a story to share. What a difference it would make in if we as a church were able to share that we met the Living, Resurrected Christ! We can bring to life that beautiful chorus:
And He walks with me, And He talks with me, and He tells me I am His own. And the joy we share as we tarry there, none other has ever known.
Easter is a big deal It is the culmination of the greatest Christmas gift ever given! Because of Jesus and His resurrection, we can have life to the fullest! Say His name out loud with me: Jesus! Jesus! Jesus!
What a beautiful name!
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