Wednesday, April 16, 2014

What's Next? Easter Sunrise Sermon

Matthew 28:1-10
28 After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And suddenly there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. For fear of him the guards shook and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.’ This is my message for you.” So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”
11 While they were going, some of the guard went into the city and told the chief priests everything that had happened. 12 After the priest had assembled with the elders, they devised a plan to give a large sum of money to the soldiers, 13 telling them, “You must say, ‘His disciples came by night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ 14 If this comes to the governor’s ears, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” 15 So they took the money and did as they were directed. And this story is still told among the Jews to this day.
16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Imagine that the most important thing that could possibly happen in your life happens, but afterward, nothing changes.

You graduate from college, but instead of going out and getting a job, you just go home and continue to live with Mom and Dad, getting an allowance, and years later at the age of 40, still having a curfew.

Graduation day comes and goes – and nothing changes.

You finally get that promotion. But instead of going to your new office with its corner window and beautiful view of
Biscayne Bay, you go to your same old cubical down in the basement.

Promotion day comes and goes – and nothing changes.

You get married, and after the wedding service, the bride goes home to her parents and the groom goes home to his parents.

It’s ridiculous to think that these things might actually happen, because these are events that change things.

Imagine Jesus being cruicified. He is put in a grave. Buried. But then he is resurrected. He comes to life. He lives again.

It would be ridiculous to think of living through Easter and then having nothing change.

What would have happened if after Christ’s resurrection, Peter had gone back to his fishing boat and lived out his life?

What would have happened if all of the disciples just went back to their old way of life?

What would have happened if none of the Gospels had been written.

The resurrection of Christ was not the type of event that you celebrate once, but doesn’t change your life.

It demands a change in your life.

The Resurrection of Christ validates everything that the Gospel claims about Christ, and it verifies everything that Christ requires of us.

You cannot come in here and celebrate Easter and then go out and not love God.

In Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus is asked which is the greatest commandment of the law, and the first answer is to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” (Matthew 22:36-38)

You know, a man who died, was buried, and then comes back to life tells you to love God – you should do what he says! Easter should make a difference in your life.

In one of the Apostle John’s letters, he said, “This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands.” (I John 5:2)

Easter makes a difference.

You cannot come in here and celebrate Easter and then go out and not love your neighbor.

When Jesus was asked about the greatest commandment, he not only told us to love God, but he continued by telling us what the second greatest commandment was: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:37-40)

A dead man who came back to life tells you to love your neighbor – you’d best do it!

The Apostle John said “If anyone says, "I love God," yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.” (I John 4:20)

Easter should make a difference in your life.

You cannot come in here and celebrate Easter and then go out and not show mercy, have compassion, work for peace, or live life that Christ calls us to live.

In the Beattitudes, Jesus talked about who would receive blessings:
“Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy…. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.” (Matthew 5)

Has Easter made that kind of difference in your life that you feel the blessings Christ promised?

It is possible to come in here and celebrate Easter and then have nothing change. But that is like graduating college, and then staying at home, getting the allowance, and living under Mom and Dad’s curfew.

It’s absurd, but it happens.

Easter makes a difference.

Let us make sure our lives reflect the difference Christ’s resurrection demands.

Copyright 2014, Dr. Maynard Pittendreigh
All rights reserved.