Sermon Summary (4/12/20) “What We Believe About Easter Matters” (Is 25:6-10; 1 Th 4:13-17; John 20:1-18)
I’ve picked out the best day ever, a day of heaven on earth. I believe Rosemary would have said, or would say, it was the best day of her life. I believe she was there. You see, I believe in the communion of saints. It was last year, it was a great feast, as Isaiah would have put it or Jesus when he spoke of the heavenly banquet, it was the day of Toni and Jackson’s wedding. It was perfect. It would have been her idea of heaven. I’m sure she was there. I believe in the communion of saints.
It may be that Holy Communion is the best picture of the communion of saints with Christ as the host and all of his followers at the heavenly banquet and all, past, present and future, connected through the body of Christ at the heavenly banquet. I believe in the communion of saints.
It’s Easter and we are in the final sermon of our series on the Apostle’s Creed: I believe in the communion of saints, in the resurrection of the body, and in the life everlasting. Those are the promises of Easter, and what you believe about Easter matters.
What you believe about Easter will shape who you are, how you will behave, how you treat others, who and how you love. All that is important to you is formed by what you believe about Easter. I matters because your everlasting life matters, your resurrection matters, your communion with those you will love for all of everlasting life matters.
And the resurrection of your body matters. The very first letter that Paul wrote, the earliest text we have in the bible, even before the gospels, Paul wrote to a group that believed they had missed the resurrection. Paul wrote to assure them “so that you may not grieve as others do that have no hope.” And then he ends with “encourage one another with these words.” (See 1 Thess 4:13-17)
What made people believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ? Two things: the empty tomb and the appearances of the Risen Lord. Each were necessary but not sufficient. Together with the personal appearances made the first witnesses so resolute in their beliefs that they were willing to give their lives to tell the world of Jesus and his love.
When Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene, he called her by name, “Mary.” She replied, “Rabbouni!” a term of endearment for a teacher. For her, the encounter with the Risen Lord was personal. There could be no mistake.
Later in this chapter, doubting Thomas will encounter the Jesus that he insisted he would not believe had risen until he could put his fingers in the nail marks and his hand in his side. Jesus spoke directly to him, inviting him to do so. Thomas said, “My Lord and my God.” It was personal. There could be no mistake.
Peter, who had denied Jesus, encounters him on the shore of the Seal of Galilee. Jesus calls him by name: “Simon do you love me more than these?” Yes, Lord. Yes, Lord. Even a third time Jesus asks and Peter responds, “Yes, Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.” It was personal. There could be no mistake.
We believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and we believe in the resurrection of the body? Which body? In First Corinthians, Paul tells us “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body…? What is sown is perishable. What is raised in imperishable….It is sown with a physical body; it is raised with a spiritual body.” Jesus resurrection body could be seen, could walk through walls, could disappear in a blink of an eye, most importantly could be recognized. We will know one another.
And we believe in the life everlasting. Jesus said, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (Jn 3:16 KJV) One of Rosemary’s favorite childhood hymns was “Whosoever surely meaneth me.” “Whosoever believeth in him shall not perish but have everlasting life.”
Easter is about the promises of God. I believe in the communion of saints. I believe in the resurrection of the body. I believe in the life everlasting. These are the promises of God, and they all come true at Easter. What you believe about Easter matters. Amen.