Sunday 4th April 2021
Easter Sunday: Jesus is Alive!
Bible reading Easter Sunday
John 20:1-10 The Empty Tomb
God loves us - Jesus is Alive! A peaceful and happy Easter to all at Elmwood
Have you ever been asked the question, What makes Jesus so special? We might say,
He’s God’s Son, he taught God’s Word, he died on a cross yet he lives
And the response comes back ‘Well what proof do you have?’
And we say the proof is he lives in us
Some will accept it, some reject the facts and some will argue over what did happen
As Christians we accept Jesus was The Son of God, He lived, died and rose again
Christians tend to argue over the periphery of doctrine & what Jesus’ teaching means
How we express our love for him in our lives?
How we study and teach God’s Word, indeed even how we worship together?
Yet in his resurrection we do join as one in Jesus’ name.
There are millions of people today who are, like us are acknowledging Jesus is alive
Easter is about the witness Jesus gave that led to his death and his resurrection.
1988 years ago, people had welcomed Jesus as he entered Jerusalem
He rode in on a donkey portrayed as the King of peace weeping over the city
We know he didn’t want to die, nor be rejected by the priests and the people
He wept because God’s Word, God’s own Son, his messenger was to be rejected
He had brought truth, certainty, forgiveness, wisdom, the ways of God
Maybe he wept for all the arguing and the cruelty people would put his name to.
Just a few days later He admitted being God’s Son and died because of it
We know better, than those priests for we know he told the truth
And we know all this because he rose again, He is The Son of God
Jesus is Our Lord and his light is shining in our hearts. Jesus is alive!
With all we know about him, he teaching and the miracles that he did
It seems incredible everyone didn’t acknowledge that Jesus is the Son of God
We know what happened to Jesus in the time leading up to Easter
3 months before, around mid December, Jesus attended the Feast of Dedication
In the Temple at Jerusalem – this is when they tried to stone him
He escaped across the Jordan and still many people came to listen to him
And we are told many did believed his words and believed in him.
But why didn’t the leaders of the Temple proclaim Jesus as the Messiah.
After all they couldn’t fault his teaching and they knew about his miracles
Certainly, some priests like Nicodemus did follow Jesus, but then only in secret
So, what was it that did not convince the Chief Priests to accept him?
Let look at some of the alternatives from their perspective.
Well, it would be difficult to pass their authority to someone who wasn’t one of them
They couldn’t admit as God’s servants to not knowing God’s own Son
Nor could a common man not born a priest, be a priest especially a non Levite
Jesus had no pedigree; he wasn’t trained by them so he couldn’t be their leader
Also, they were expecting a warrior A king to lead them, not a carpenter,
Someone young who they would have anointed, just as Samuel did to David.
The main reason was they wanted control, to keep decision for themselves
Power, adulation, money plus the comfort that comes with leadership
They didn’t want to be told they were wrong, didn’t like to be insulted
They didn’t want to see their sin discovered, they didn’t want to change.
Jesus called them hypocrites, sinful, the devil’s sons, said they were murders,
Put themselves on pedestals, misinterpreting & didn’t keep God’s law
He wouldn’t do miracles for them, didn’t obey the Sabbath and forgave people
To the priests, Jesus threatened their position, even their credibility and existence
The Chief Priests could not admit that he was who he said he was
To agree that he knew God’s way better than them, well they would to lose face,
A carpenter who taught God’s ways better than God’s priests.
Admit it were true and Jesus would have to be made their supreme leader
With the consequence that they would have to do what he taught.
Leader rarely wants to give up their authority, particularly if they don’t have to.
Some time between December and March he was called to Bethany,
A village outside Jerusalem Mary and Martha wanted him to return
Because their brother Lazarus was ill, he died and Jesus raised him from the dead.
When the Chief Priests were told what had happened they had to hide the evidence
And to do that, they planned to kill both Jesus and Lazarus.
Why, because too many people were starting to follow Jesus and if it continued
The Romans would take away their power & destroy the Jewish nation
Jesus must have been warned for he took his disciples away once again, this time
To a village close to the desert, six days before Passover he returned to Bethany
He went to the home of Lazarus, Mary and Martha. Where he stayed for a meal
And while there Mary anointed him by pouring nard over his feet Then to Jerusalem
He entered with joyful crowds, he preaching in the temple, Throwing out the traders,
Being asked all those testing questions by the priests
Then the last supper with his disciples, The prayer time on the Mount of Olives
His arrest, the Six trials, First before Annas, then the Sanhedrin,
Taken to Pilate who sent him to Herod who sent him back to Pilate
Who then allowed the Jewish crowd to pass judgement on him,
Which all led to Jesus’ crucifixion and subsequent burial.
Let’s move on to the Lent climax, Jesus’ resurrection.
After all the trauma of the death of their Messiah
the disciples, not surprisingly, were in hiding, frighten for they own lives.
As the priests might try the classic strategy of wiping out all opposition
First discredit the leader, get rid of him, then kill the second line of leadership
Jesus first showed himself to Mary Magdalene giving her a message and a job to do
To tell his followers to leave and go the Galilee
They were in hiding and didn’t believe she had seen Jesus
Two disciples raced to the empty tomb and saw it was deserted Still they denied that Mary had seen Jesus, saying it couldn’t happen, To them it might have been a dream, mistaken identity, anything
But the news did spread, and with that news some followers fled,
Two of them walked to Emmaus and meet Jesus but they didn’t recognise him
When we witness the Love of God, often the response comes back ‘Give me proof’ They are really saying, give me reasons that can be discounted
Since deep down they don’t want to believe
Because to do so would mean a change in their thinking and their way of life
People who can’t trust the Word of God, reject the chance to live for God
They reject The Holy Spirit, Jesus and their Heavenly Father
But if they decide of their own free will to love God,
Deny the ways of Satan, then forgiveness is theirs and the gift of faith
Of knowing God with all the proof of the Holy Spirit inside themselves
Then they become children of God. With eternal life, being with God forever
That’s our prize, that’s why Jesus lived, that’s why Jesus couldn’t deny the truth
That he is the Son of God, that God wants us to be his children
That’s why he faced those trails, and said to Caiaphas, ‘I AM’
By stating he was the Son of God he forced the Sanhedrin to the choice
To decide if they want to follow him, and follow the Truth he taught,
They chose to reject Jesus, and have him put to death
Then by the greatest of all acts he rose from death,
Giving the final, absolute proof, he told the truth, Jesus is alive!
He’s someone to be trusted, for he is who he said he was, God’s very own Son.
At its heart Christianity is simple,
The most important thing is to Love God, first and foremost.
Then we need to learn to love ourselves,
Live as God wants us to caring and witnessing to others,
Which is to wholly love God, Ourselves and our neighbours
From those three easy to understand commands, stem all the laws of God.
Jesus’ death is vital to our understanding of Jesus’ love for us
For the Cross, teaches us to what lengths we ourselves might have to go.
We must never belittle his sacrifice, willing facing death for truth and for us
But sacrificing himself on the cross is not what Jesus lived for
Easter is not about the forgiveness on the cross
Because that is a consequence of Jesus’ love for us.
Easter is all about ‘Jesus is alive’
Giving us all the absolute proof that he tells the truth.
His resurrection gives us the confidence to believe on him
And in doing so we can also stand for the truth of God and take the path to eternal life
The Resurrection of Jesus means we can rely on his words, his truth, his ways
And when we do we are given the gifts; of faith, of forgiveness,
The Holy Spirit and Eternal life.
These are not trophy’s to be hung on the wall and admired,
But are to be used, so we can live out our purpose of living – Live To Please God.
We are here today because of The Living Lord, not a dead one.
We have been given the task of witnessing his life and his love
To live in harmony with each other along with our Lord and Friend Jesus.
Today we glorify Jesus Our Saviour, The Son of God: For Jesus is alive!