Sin and death have been defeated and Jesus has won the victory for us so that we can know freedom from sin and the promise of a holy life now and an eternal life on that day that he returns. But there is something else about the day that we have to acknowledge – all of this was accomplished for all of creation, for the entire world, and when the women arrived at the tomb that morning they found no body, but they were met by an angel and he spoke to them saying,
“Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6 He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”
The instruction from the Angel to the women was to go and tell the others what had happened. They were sent to testify to what they had found. And that’s our call as well – Easter starts a new reality for us all, a reality where we are invited into Christ’s own death and resurrection, where we can be forgiven for everything that we have allowed to move away from God, a new reality where we can live a new life marked by the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives, and a new reality where we need not fear death, but where we can know that on the other side of this life’s death is life eternal with Jesus.
But here’s the thing, we don’t just talk about what Easter HAS done, we also testify to what Easter WILL do. Did you know that the implications of the empty tomb and the resurrected Jesus haven’t even been completely fulfilled yet? In Acts 10, Peter is with the Roman Centurion, Cornelius and his family at their house. Peter realizes that the Holy Spirit is doing something powerful even among the Gentiles (the non-Jewish community) and he begins to testify to what he knows. He tells them,
“We are witnesses of everything he did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a cross, 40 but God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen. 41 He was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom God had already chosen—by us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead.
He looks back and he tells Cornelius of everything that had happened. But then, he goes on and testifies about what is to come. He says,
42 He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead. 43 All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”
He is reigning right now at the right hand of the father and he will judge the living and the dead when he returns. And through his resurrected name we have forgiveness in that judgement and we await the new heaven and new earth that have been promised. You see when we gather here on Easter and celebrate that Jesus is resurrected and alive, we testify not only to what has happened but to what will happen. That because of Easter we know that this life is not all there is and that one day the Kingdom of God which is here now, but only in part, will be fulfilled and brought to completion and we will be part of it. The Isaiah passage we heard a moment ago lays it out so beautifully;
17 “See, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind. 18 But be glad and rejoice forever in what I will create, for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight and its people a joy. 19 I will rejoice over Jerusalem and take delight in my people; the sound of weeping and of crying will be heard in it no more…. 23 They will not labor in vain, nor will they bear children doomed to misfortune; for they will be a people blessed by the Lord, they and their descendants with them. 24 Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear. 25 The wolf and the lamb will feed together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox, and dust will be the serpent’s food. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain,” says the Lord.
-Isaiah 65:17-19; 23-25
If we make any kind of mistake when it comes to Easter, it’s that we don’t give it enough credit, we don’t pay enough attention to the fullness of the resurrection. We focus so much on the forgiveness piece because it is so great and so amazing, but we don’t look forward enough to realize that there is still SO much more that awaits us in the ultimate fulfillment of the Kingdom of God and it’s all because of Jesus’ obedience to death on a cross and God’s incredible faithfulness in raising him from the dead so that we all might live now and forever. That’s something to look forward to.
Our world doesn’t understand. We have a story to tell, a story of what has happened when Jesus Christ walked out of that tomb on Easter Sunday setting us free from our past and giving us a future with him in the redeemed world, the new heaven and the new earth. We often talk in the church about whether or not we are living as Easter people all year. That means more than just living as those who have been forgiven – it means living as those who are expectant for what is still to come. That expectation becomes a testimony in and of itself.
What about you? Are you ready to testify – to live as those who have been forgiven AND anticipate the fullness of the Kingdom of God? That’s being an easter people. That’s who we are called to be!
April 17 2022 Easter Sunday.mp4 from Coker United Methodist Church on Vimeo.
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