Easter Message 2014 Preached at Advocate Condell Medical Center

doubledelightroseEaster Changed Everything!

Message by Barbara Shafer preached at Advocate Condell Medical Center, April 20, 2014

For almost a decade, I taught flower arranging at the College of Lake County.  I enjoyed teaching and I enjoyed flowers and gardening, so it was a perfect fit.  Each semester, I’d have the opportunity to talk about the life cycle of a flower and floral senescence…how from the moment it forms as a bud, it has begun the process of dying. 

From the moment it buds, the goal of the flower is to go to seed and carry on the next generation.  Cut a flower off from its roots to bring it inside and let’s face it: it’s going to end up in the dumpster eventually or become part of the compost pile for the greener ones among us.  The goal of a florist is to keep the flowers as beautiful as possible for as long as possible.  To slow the senescence process and to enjoy them while we have them here.  No flower bud lives forever.  That’s why man created silk flowers.  Most of the students in the class were there to learn how to make their own flower arrangements so they didn’t like to hear the reality of today’s beauty is tomorrow’s compost.

If we think about it, from the moment we’re conceived, we grow and mature and blossom in life and we grow old and fade away.  From the moment we’re conceived, we’re basically terminal.  The goal of life here on earth seemed to be nothing more than to prolong the time we’re here to enjoy it as much as possible before our dust goes to dust.

But then Easter happened.  And Easter changed it all.

Not the bunnies and the peeps and the jelly beans and colored eggs.  Nope.  I’m talking about what the true meaning is of Easter.

The tomb was empty and Jesus Christ has risen indeed.  That’s what changed everything!

In today’s passage of Scripture, the women were planning on doing to Jesus what they would have done to anyone else who died but couldn’t be fully embalmed.  They’d bring spices and cover the person’s body and that’s how they’d properly honor his body.

Luke 24:1 On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb.

They went to the tomb and they were expecting what they would have been expecting had Jesus been a regular guy.  His body would be there, they’d unwrap it and perform the grisly task that was a measure of their true devotion to the man.  They were prepared to do this…right after the Sabbath was over.

So here it is, Sunday morning and they’ve fulfilled the commandment to rest and as the sun is rising these women—a couple of Mary’s and a Joanna (Luke 24:10) who may or may not be the woman named Salome by Mark (Mark 16:1)—are on their way to the place where they’d already scoped out since they were watching where Joseph of Arimathea had placed Jesus’ wrapped body.

As they were on their way, the Gospel according to Mark records the ladies asking each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?”  (Mark 16:3) What were they expecting when they got to the tomb?  They were expecting the natural…a big stone blocking the tomb where Jesus was still dead would still be a big stone blocking the way in.

I love the humor element here:  a bunch of ladies inquiring who was going to move the stone.  Not 3-4 body builders or 3-4 men from the stone mason’s guild.  And this wasn’t like a tiny stone or a little boulder.  No, this rock is really big and very, very heavy and even if it was on kind of a track, the track made it easier to roll the stone in place, not so easy to remove it.  That’s intentional.  The purpose of the stone was to keep people (such as robbers) and animals out.  1 Big heavy immovable stone and 3 or 4 women.  The odds were against them.

garden tombMatthew’s Gospel account tells us that there was an earthquake and an angel rolled back the stone (Matthew 28:2).  The ladies hadn’t counted on this.  So this was the first of the happy and unexpected events that make it evident that Easter changes everything!

Luke 24: 2 They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3 but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.

They didn’t find His body. 

They expected His body all wrapped up if they ever got the stone moved.

Instead, the stone is rolled away but His body is gone!

Luke 24: 4 While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them.

Supernatural.  Yes, they’re angels.  Definitely unexpected.

Luke 24: 5 In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead?

What?  The Living?  How is it possible?  Could He be alive?  How did He get out of the tomb?  Let’s look at the rest of this:

Luke 24: 5 In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? 6 He is not here; he has risen!

Risen?  What does that mean?  We weren’t expecting this!

Luke 24: 5b “Why do you look for the living among the dead? 6 He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee:

He told us lots of things that didn’t make any earthly sense!  What do you mean Living?  What do you mean Risen?

Luke 24:6 Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: 7 ‘The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.'”

Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: check mark thumbnail7 ‘The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men…


…be crucified


…and on the third day be raised again.'”

Check!  This was all predicted!  It wasn’t unexpected at all, if we’d only understood!  It was planned!!!

 Luke 24: 8 Then they remembered his words.

It doesn’t mean that they fully understood all the ramifications of that.  You see, death is something we understand by nature.  Resurrection is not.  Resurrection is supernatural…not natural at all.  Because resurrection is not natural, it is unexpected, and we can miss the point of what God is doing even after we are told something explicitly!

How easy is it for us to miss what God is doing in and around our lives…simply because it defies the natural, the expected, and the way we’ve always done things?

Easter changed everything! 
On Good Friday, death appeared to defeat the Messianic Hope.
On Easter Sunday, the Messianic Hope had clearly defeated death.

Not delayed death, not delaying senescence so that we could enjoy this life here for just a little longer!  No!  Messianic Hope in the Risen Lord had defeated death.  The life we live by faith in Him lasts forever.

We may hope for a cure for the sake of our family members and because there’s more we want to enjoy in this life and that’s great, but Easter Changed Everything!  The tomb was empty.  Jesus is Risen!

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Back to our passage Luke 24:6 Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: 7 ‘The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men…


…be crucified


…and on the third day be raised again.'”

cartoon celebrationAnd the plan continues with raised again to eternal life. 

Here’s the beauty of it:

Not just for Jesus.

It has implications for us.  For our faith.

Because Easter changed everything.

A friend of mine posted a cartoon on Facebook that looks like this:

Yes, the demonic celebration was premature because death didn’t have the final say.  Death couldn’t hold Him.

Jesus was raised again.

Luke 24: 9 When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. 10 It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles. 11 But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense. 12 Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened.

Resurrection has the power to turn skeptics into believers. 

It turned me from a skeptic into a believer.

I’m comforted knowing the earliest skeptics were Jesus’ own followers, but Easter Changed Everything! Peter didn’t hear the women’s words as nonsense.  No, it says Peter however got up and ran to the tomb.  He witnessed the empty tomb.  He saw the strips of linen.  It made no natural sense.  Where was Jesus?  Peter left wondering and marveling but was already on his way to being part of the supernatural plan of carrying the Gospel forward by faith in this Messiah.

Peter saw that the tomb was empty of Jesus’ body.  The grave clothes, however, were still there.  A natural explanation wouldn’t have folded up the clothes as the beloved disciple John tells us John 20:7 as well as the burial cloth that had been around Jesus’ head. The cloth was folded up by itself, separate from the linen.  A supernatural explanation is that Jesus didn’t want anything of the earth and the grave holding Him back.  He is Risen!  Easter Changed Everything.  If Jesus’ body wasn’t there, then by faith we can understand our bodies won’t be left behind at the last resurrection either.

Jesus appeared to His disciples over and over again in the days following His resurrection, and Luke 24 tells us He even ate fish to show He was not a ghost or an apparition.  He had a new body just like we will someday.  And at that time, Luke 24:44 [Jesus] said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.” 45 Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. 46 He told them, “This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.

Remember the check, check, check of God’s plan? 

Here’s the last check: the Good News that Easter Changed Everything will be preached everywhere. 

To all nations.  Beginning with Jerusalem and not ending until His return. 

He’s told us that this is how it’s going to happen.  Will we believe only the natural and that all these earthquakes and mudslides and planes disappearing, and ferry boats sinking, and droughts, and wildfires are just part of this natural world?  Or is there something supernatural going on…events that drive us to our knees in prayer, events that show a world out of control and cause us to long for heaven…to long for God?

There’s something supernatural going on.  The Good News of repentance and forgiveness of sin is being preached in Jesus’ name and in all nations because Easter Changed Everything.

And the best thing about the reality of Heaven is that The Messiah is for Real.  Christ Jesus is there.  He is alive.  He has His glorified body….because Easter Changed Everything! 

The tomb was empty!

Death was defeated and Jesus is Lord because He did it all…check, check, check, and check!

cloudandskyWhen He returns for you and me, will you believe that the tomb was empty so that you could enjoy more than just life here…and by faith in Christ’s power to forgive your sins, have eternal life in Christ, too?

Will you be ready to embrace the unexpected supernatural and awesome event of that Easter morning?

Will you know as millions of followers of Jesus Christ have known since the day He arose from the dead, that Easter Sunday is more than an empty natural tomb?

It is powerful evidence that Jesus Christ’s sacrifice was accepted by God, that forgiveness of sin is possible in Him, that eternal life is available to you and to me because of what He did on the Cross and in the tomb.  His resurrection means that God’s plan of salvation unfolded and Easter Changed Everything.


Categories Chapel Worship/News | Tags: | Posted on April 24, 2014

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