My message title this morning is “Let’s Celebrate Easter.” After what we’ve just come through? You bet. We’ve just come through Good Friday. You know I said, ‘Why do we call this Friday good?’ Jesus spoke seven words and out of those seven words, go home and study it, these are the teachings He taught us.
- He taught us number one: any sin can be forgiven. You can forgive them who killed this Jesus and any sin is potentially forgivable.
- Second thing He taught us – that we’re saved by grace, not through works. To a dying thief He said, ‘This day you will be with Me in paradise.’ Man, this dying thief didn’t even repent yet of his sins. He didn’t know theology. And Jesus said, ‘You’ll be with Me tonight in heaven.’ Jesus is a lot more forgiving than most church members or theologians.
- Third point Jesus made was: you belong to a family and through the worst of times just remember this: we all go through suffering and through some rejections but remember this: the family will always stay with you. He said it, ‘Woman, behold your son.’ She was there. He was despised and rejected of men but His mother stood with Him.
- Fourth point He made was: faith can survive the worst tragedy. When He said, ‘My God, my God, why have You forsaken Me?’ No tragedy was ever experienced by any human being that Christ experienced on the cross when He said, ‘God abandoned me.’ But He did not abandon His faith. He still said, ‘My God, My God, My God!’ Didn’t become an atheist. His faith survived His worst tragedy. Wow!
- And then the fifth line He gave us was: Good Friday’s taught us that it’s okay to hurt. And you can experience a failure or a rejection or a setback or even experience a disappointment and its okay to expose it and express it. When He said, ‘I thirst,’ He wasn’t too proud to admit that He needed help. It’s okay to express and expose your hurts.
- The sixth point He made was: There’s a time to let go. ‘Father, into Your hands I commit My Spirit.’ You know we have a terrible tendency to think that it’s wrong to let go. Life would be a lot better off for a lot of people if they knew when to let go. ‘Father, into Your hands I commit My Spirit.’ Norman Vincent Peale was in his 90’s and it was Christmas Eve and in a few hours Christmas would be there and he was very sick. And Ruth stood at his side and she said, ‘Norman, its okay to let go. You can let go now.’ And he let go and he died. There’s a time to let go.
- And the seventh word that Christ gave us on Good Friday is: at the end of our life we can experience fulfillment. Yeah. It’s finished, He said. It’s finished, which means He did His job. He did what He had to do. He didn’t walk away until it is finished. Fulfillment.
Well that’s Good Friday. That’s where we come from and now, 48 hours later, the tomb is empty. He was taken down from the cross, put in Arimathea's tomb, and now a legend is born that He’s resurrected, that He rose from the dead.
Some of you experience reality therapy and many of you are into reality television. Well I’m going to give you reality religion. Reality religion: something happened on Easter morning, whether you believe it or not. I’m telling you, something happened. The seal was broken and it was a crime to break a Roman seal, punishable by death. The soldiers were gone and it was a death penalty for any soldier that abandoned his role. The tomb was empty except for the cloth that wrapped His dead body and it was folded neatly, carefully and the tomb was empty. And the followers, they split, they left, they didn’t want to admit they were one of His. They were afraid they’d be next. They cut out. Suddenly, whatever happened in that empty tomb, they were transformed. He saw them, He talked with them, they saw Him, they talked to Him. All except one, Thomas, said, ‘It can’t be.’ And Jesus said, ‘Come, put your finger in the hole in My hand, Thomas.’ And Thomas said, ‘I believe. Yeah, I believe.’ Wow!
And He made several appearances until He ascended into heaven. Something happened after Good Friday, it’s called Easter. The dead body was gone and you cannot imagine what that means because in that culture, in that time and in that place bodies were preserved. They never found a hair of Him, not a bone, not a bloody cloth, not a remnant. It’s gone. And some of the greatest reasons Christianity has survived 2000 years is critics, cynics, doubters, atheists have, through these 2000 years, tried studiously, these scholars, to debunk the resurrection and those who tried landed up becoming converts. You try to study what happened and you’ll become a believer. And I hope that happens to you today. Good Friday, Easter, where are we today?
Today I’ve good news for you. One of the last words Jesus spoke, resurrected, to His apostles, was: ‘I will be with you always, even to the end of the earth.’ Guess what? No religious leader, no philosopher, nobody that influenced the thinking of human beings ever said, ‘I will be with you to the ends of the earth.’ Mohammad didn’t say that. Buddha didn’t say that. Nobody said it. No Hindu teacher has said it. No Old Testament prophet ever said it. Not Moses, not Isaiah, only one human being that led a new faith said, ‘I will be with you always, till the end of the earth.’ And He’s alive today, very much so.
I’ve noted that many people are saying to me, I don’t go to church, I don’t claim a religion, but I’m spiritual. I understand it. I’m spiritual. You think there’s like a God? Yes, I think so, but I’m not religious. What is that spirit that you feel? You don’t realize it that is Jesus Christ. You don’t call Him by the right name. You don’t know Him but Jesus said, ‘I’ll love people even if they don’t love Me. I will love people and bless them even if they don’t admit to Me.’ Jesus Christ is making His presence felt in a cosmic spirit in the world today and that’s why the people who don’t come to church and don’t claim to be religious are experiencing the presence of Christ, only they don’t know it. They are. Jesus will be with you through a horrible Good Friday that you might have to go through.
Jesus is with you. He’s with you so much. You don’t even realize it. His presence is here. His last word was: ‘I will never leave you. I will never forsake you. I will be with you always unto the end of your life? No, until the end of the world.’ My last line, it’s a great one; you’ve never heard me say it before. Jesus lives. Jesus never said good-bye.