“This Is A Big Deal!”
What is the big deal about Easter? When asked, people will give a wide array of answers.
Resurrection - rezəˈrekSH(ə)n - the rising of Christ from the dead
The Big Deal? What’s the Big Deal about Easter? It’s the Resurrection!
The Resurrection – The rising of Christ from the Dead!
Jesus Died on the Cross – crucified between two criminals – and then what?
Lets pick up the story….
Matthew 27:57-66 - 57 As evening approached, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who had himself become a disciple of Jesus. 58 Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus’ body, and Pilate ordered that it be given to him. 59 Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, 60 and placed it in his own new tomb that he had cut out of the rock. He rolled a big stone in front of the entrance to the tomb and went away. 61 Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting there opposite the tomb. 62 The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. 63 “Sir,” they said, “we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ 64 So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first.” 65 “Take a guard,” Pilate answered. “Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how.” 66 So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard.
A skeptic or a deep questioner might ask, “just how likely is the resurrection?”
Mark Tapscott is Executive Editor of the Washington Examiner. He oversees the daily work of the newspaper's special reporting team. He was inducted into the National Freedom of Information Act Hall of Fame in 2006.
In a recent article in the Washington Examiner “So What’s The Big Deal About Easter”, Mark Tapscott sets the context for answering this very question: “… the evidence for the resurrection as a historical event is overwhelming, so much so that, as Josh McDowell never tires of saying, "there is more evidence for the historical fact of the resurrection of Jesus than for just about any other event in history." McDowell is a Christian apologist who has devoted most of his life to investigating the evidence for and against the resurrection.
Mr. Tapscott goes on to explain more about this evidence as researched and recorded by Josh McDowell.
One of the most fascinating parts of this story are the facts regarding the guard unit placed at the tomb where Christ was buried. Josh Mc Dowell tells us about it. It involves the Koustodia (koos-to-dee'-ah), the Roman Legion unit that most likely guarded Jesus' tomb to prevent his disciples from stealing his body.
Mr. Tapscott cites the research of Josh McDowell in this article. There were 16 members of a Koustodia unit and they were the Special Forces of the legion, with each trained to protect six square feet of ground. They worked in rotating teams of four to ensure constant surveillance by fresh sets of eyes. Death was the usual penalty for a Koustodia that failed to do its duty.
Knowing this, how reasonable is it then to claim, as some skeptics, that Jesus' disciples somehow overcame the Koustodia and stole Jesus' body, then spread a resurrection lie? None of the disciples came from military backgrounds, and all of them were in hiding in the immediate aftermath of the crucifixion, terrified that they would be crucified next.
And remember, for decades afterward, the disciples all insisted that Jesus had been resurrected. They did so despite intense persecution, constant threats of being jailed or killed, and, except for John, ultimately died for their faith (Peter, for example, is said to have been crucified upside down).
If these men were all parties to a resurrection lie, surely sooner or later at least one of them would have confessed in the hope of being spared execution.
Put simply, it matters because of what Jesus claimed about himself. Where other great religious figures like Muhammad gave the world codes of rules and regulations said to be from God, Jesus claimed to be God and said faith in him was the only way to heaven.
Simply put, the Big Deal about Easter is the Factual Resurrection of Jesus Christ!
Why is the resurrection a big deal to us today?
Let’s talk a minute about death.
When we are born, we are “dead to Christ.” We have sinned, so therefore our access to God is blocked.
Romans 3:23 – “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.”
Romans 6:23 – “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.”
So what, exactly did Christ do for us?
Sin has always required a blood sacrifice for atonement – a sacrifice so that the one committing the sin could be forgiven.
Hebrews 9:22 – “In fact, according to the law of Moses, nearly everything was purified with blood. For without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness.”
I Peter 3:18 – The Message: It’s better to suffer for doing good, if that’s what God wants, than to be punished for doing bad. That’s what Christ did definitively: suffered because of others’ sins, the Righteous One for the unrighteous ones. He went through it all—was put to death and then made alive—to bring us to God.
Romans 6:5-11 - “Since we have been united with him in his death, we will also be raised to life as he was. 6 We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. 7 For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin. 8 And since we died with Christ, we know we will also live with him. 9 We are sure of this because Christ was raised from the dead, and he will never die again. Death no longer has any power over him.10 When he died, he died once to break the power of sin. But now that he lives, he lives for the glory of God. 11 So you also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus.”
This Easter Sunday – as we proclaim “He Is Risen!” He is risen indeed!” – will you contemplate what that means to you?
Do you fear death? Have you any room for Jesus? Let Him live in you. Then fear not! Have you lost hope? The Resurrected Christ is God’s Ultimate Gift of Hope!
Do you worry about what you can or cannot do? Stop focusing on your performance and just let God be in you.
Philippians 2:13 – “For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.”
When God is in you, you can live life with hope. There is life beyond the grave. Jesus said: I am the Way, Truth and the Life!
Jesus said: I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. (John 11:25-26).
Believing in Jesus Christ to pay for your sins and then trusting in Him for everything. Jesus conquered sin, death and the grave – for you… That’s what His Resurrection means, that’s what His Resurrection did for you… so yes, Easter… the Resurrection of Jesus Christ… His offer to forgive your sins and offer you Eternal Life – “This Is A Big Deal!”
Pastor Ted Sutherland tells this true story: In 1957, Lieutenant David Steeves walked out of the California Sierras 54 days after his Air Force trainer jet had disappeared. He related an unbelievable tale of how he had lived in a snowy wilderness after parachuting from his disabled plane. By the time he showed up alive, he had already been declared officially dead. When further search failed to turn up the wreckage, a hoax was suspected and Steeves was forced to resign under a cloud of doubt. His story was confirmed, however, more than 20 years later when a troop of Boy Scouts discovered the wreckage of his plane.
Today we celebrate another survival story. 2000 years ago, a man named Jesus Christ walked out of a tomb outside of Jerusalem after being brutally murdered on a Cross. He appeared several times from appearances to just a few to over 500 at one time. Then He ascended on a cloud and remains alive today, seated at the right hand of God in heaven.
Will you believe in the Resurrected Christ?
Will you accept Him as Savior & Lord?
He is Risen, He is Risen Indeed!