Last Friday Jesus’ disciples saw him die; they saw His bloody back slashed by the whip; they saw His face teared by the crown of thorns; they saw Him died and His body taken and, in a hurry, placed it in the tomb.
That Friday evening in Jerusalem His disciples thought that everything was over: His promises of a New Kingdom, His teachings, His company, and His protection were no more. They thought, they must begin anew looking for another leader, looking for the real Messiah. That Friday in Jerusalem they were sad and disappointed. Sad because their friend had died and disappointed because He was not who they thought. But, while they were hidden somewhere in Jerusalem; while they were arguing among themselves and deciding what to do next, God was at work; God was fulfilling what Jesus told them many times, “The Son of Man… must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.” Luke 9:22.
Resurrection has always been the cornerstone of our faith. Paul reminds us that in 1 Corinthians 15:17-19, “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied. Why is the fact of the resurrection central to Christianity? The answer to this important question is found throughout the New Testament. This morning I want to focus on the answer Paul gives in his letter to the Philippians. In chapter 3:10-11, Paul says, “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.”
“I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection.” Resurrection is central because has power. Power to transform the disciples from a group of cowards into men and women of courage and conviction. The disciples went from denying Jesus, from hiding with fear, to being willing to face torture and martyrdom for Jesus.
Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “If you have nothing to die for, you have nothing to live for.” From the moment they saw the empty tomb and their Lord alive, they had something to live for; something to die for, and that was, to spread the message, to share with others the Good News. They were so convinced of his resurrection; they were so committed to the risen Christ that they were willing to die for Him.
Resurrection has the power to move those who have seen the Lord to share with others the Good News. The Good News that Jesus is alive, and if he is alive, he still can love, heal, and forgive the same way He did when He was walking on the dusty roads of Galilee. And that is the power of the resurrection’s message, it is not only that Jesus is alive, but he still can do what he did during His ministry in Galilee prior His death and resurrection. His message of love and mercy, His teachings and promises did not end on the cross; His message of love and mercy is still visible in His church and through His church.
Resurrection has the power to take us from death to life, from darkness to light, from the power of sin to the freedom in Jesus. Now, to celebrate resurrection is to celebrate a relationship with the risen Christ; it is to celebrate being a new creature, this new creature is only possible thru the power of His resurrection. This power and this resurrection are the cornerstone of God’s kingdom. Jesus the stone rejected by the builders has become by the power of resurrection the cornerstone of our faith. Remember, just on Friday, Jesus was abandoned by most of his followers; people were insulting him, included one of His disciples and one who was dying with him; Last Friday He even felt forsaken and abandoned by His Father. And now by the power of resurrection He conquered death, He surprised friends and enemies, those who saw Him hanging on the cross now are eating, talking, and walking with him.
Resurrection gives us power to be yeast of the kingdom. Right after the women saw the risen Christ, they went to share the news with the rest of frighten disciples; right after the disciples saw Jesus alive, they filled Jerusalem and the Roman Empire with the news. No jail, no punishment, no threatening, no persecution could stop them, not even death could quiet the news of Jesus’ resurrection. The group of followers grew as the dough does with the yeast.
Resurrection has the power to restore people. The risen Christ does not care what we have done or how we have lived, there is always the possibility of a new beginning when we open our hearts to the risen Christ. Peter told Jesus he was ready to die for Him, a few hours later he denied Him. The risen Christ restored his called and gave back his position among the rest of disciples when He asked Peter, three times “do you love me” and three times Peter said, “yes”; Jesus asked him to “feed my lambs”, “tend my sheep” and “feed my sheep.” In other words, the risen Jesus told Him: you have been restored as a leader among my people.
Now, if we want to be transformed, if we want to be taken from death to life; if we want to have power to share the Good News, if we want to be an agent of His kingdom, if we want to be restored in God’s kingdom, we must have a relationship with the risen Christ. Because we cannot say we know the power of His resurrection if we do not know Jesus.The relationship and power Paul talk about in Philippians 3, is not just any relationship. It is a daily relationship; it is a relationship in every moment and in every event; it is not a once and a while relationship.
May this Easter Sunday be for us as persons and for us as church a new beginning. May the power of Jesus’ Resurrection be the force that moves us to continue doing what Jesus our Lord begun; May the power of Resurrection be the force that moves us to continue doing what Jesus commanded us to do. Happy Easter.