Recently I sat in the plaza and my mind went back through the 60-plus years of our St. Andrew's history and the hundreds of thousands of people who, in those years right up to the present, have been touched in some way by this ministry. Then I began to envision those yet to come, who in the decades ahead will be part of this faith community. Frankly, my emotions welled up within me of deep gratitude to God that I could have some part in His ministry for the past 47 years, the majority of that time being at St. Andrew's.
Everything I ever have had to say or ever will say must be embodied in the essence of the resurrection of Jesus Christ and its implications for us.
I've been thinking back through these 47 years of ministry, particularly the previous 30 Easter sermons I've preached at St. Andrew's. Just what is the essence of that message if I could only preach it one more time?
Let me share it with you in the most concise, specific way I possibly can. Simply said, the resurrection of Jesus Christ equips us to face the two biggest fears in the world: the fear of dying and the fear of living.
I'm convinced the first of those fears is the fear of dying, and that the second of those fears is the fear of living.
Would you agree with me? Aren't all the fears of our lives captured by one of these two headings?
Today's text is found at many places throughout the Bible, particularly in the New Testament. Today we are in 1 Corinthians 15:16-22
One of the most important facts of the Christian faith is the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ. There are those who can't quite believe it happened in anything more than a spiritual way. Yet the Bible says the Creator/Sustainer God broke into human history in a supernatural way. He became a human being who was fully God and fully human. He took upon Himself the kind of suffering we experience. This sinless One went to the cross and experienced the very pain of death.
The Bible says He took upon Himself our sins. He died. He rose from the dead. During a six-week period of time, He appeared to more than 500 people. The very existence of the Christian church bears witness to the fact something happened to transform a broken, beaten group of losers into men and women who gave their lives for Jesus Christ, of whom they witnessed in His resurrection power.
Every Sunday bears its own witness to the living Christ. That's why we no longer worship on the seventh day, the Sabbath. The first day is the day of resurrection. This is the Lord's Day. Jesus Himself said in His revelation to John: "‘Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last, and the living one. I was dead, and see, I am alive forever and ever; and I have the keys of Death and of Hades'" (Revelation 1:17-18
More than all the factual data we could muster in our endeavor to prove the literal resurrection of Jesus Christ is the fact He, right now, is in the business of changing lives. He is equipping people to die. He is equipping people to live. His words are borne out so beautifully. He said He raised His close friend Lazarus from the dead: