I just walked back in to my office at our church building, because I was outside changing the message on the church sign. It had previously advertised our Maundy Thursday service, and now the new message asks, “Did Jesus really die and come back to life? Let’s talk about that.” How would you answer that question if someone asked you?
I put that question on the sign, because Easter is the day we celebrate Jesus’ resurrection, and because I am hoping that the many people driving by will read the message and think about the audacious claim we Christians make every Easter, that Jesus died and then miraculously came back to life. I hope people stop by and ask to talk about it.
The claim of Easter is wild, when you think about it. We Christians go so far as to say that Jesus physically died and physically came back to life. It was not just a spiritual resurrection. There on the cross, his heart stopped beating, his brain functions ceased, and he was no longer breathing. Then three days later, his heart restarted beating, his brain functioned anew, and he breathed. He now had a resurrection body, by the power of the Spirit.
I would encourage you to talk about that miracle this Easter weekend. Frankly, we shouldn’t talk about it only at Easter. We should be like the apostles, as we read the content of their preaching in the book of Acts, talking about Jesus’ resurrection all year round. If Jesus truly died and came back to life, then we should be going about our lives with that astounding claim ever on our lips. The miracle of resurrection is that life-changing. It is that important.
I wonder, when is the last time you talked with someone about the resurrection? Easter is a perfect season to bring up that conversation because, more than likely, you will be with family and friends to mark the day when the resurrection happened nearly 2000 years ago. We should bring up the topic of the day, because people in our families might not believe in the resurrection. If you’re feeling awkward about it, tell them I asked you to do it, so that it takes the pressure off you.
But that question is only the first of two very important questions. The first question is: “Did Jesus really die and come back to life?” As you ask people that question, perhaps it will lead to the next one: “What it is the significance of his death and resurrection?” To put it another way: “So what?” A man dying and coming back to life is astounding as a biological occurrence. But what does it mean?
On the blog next week, I will attempt to answer that second question. How does the resurrection matter? As you might remember, this blog is based on the sermons I preach at Faith Church. I take the previous week’s sermon, divide it into five parts, and release it on the blog. Earliest this week as I thought about what I should preach for Easter 2022, I was a bit stumped. Of course I knew the topic was going to be the resurrection of Jesus, but what Scripture passage should I focus on?
This is my 12th year in a row preaching Easter sermons. I’ve preached on the resurrection story from each of the Gospels, except for Mark, because, well, that’s just a strange one. I’ve preached on the wonderful resurrection chapter, 1st Corinthians 15. One year I preached on Psalm 103, which seems like it was written for Easter (though it wasn’t). As I thought about the significance of Jesus’ resurrection, I decided to preach Romans 8, which is usually considered to be a Holy Spirit chapter. It is that. But it is so much more.
Let me back up a minute and talk about Romans. Romans is one of the most revered and substantive books of the Bible, and for good reason. Through Romans we learn the importance of the theology of God’s grace. Do a search on the blog, though, and you’ll find I have rarely written about Romans. I suspect the reason for that has to do with the fact that Romans is quite complex. That said, open up your Bible and read Romans 8 ahead this weekend. I think you’ll find it to be familiar, and quite encouraging, especially about the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. As you read Romans 8, notice how Paul talks about the resurrection. Then join us on the blog next week, and we’ll talk about it further.