Happy Easter to all my readers!
Newer subscribers might be interested in reading some of my previous posts on Easter, the Church’s greatest holy day:
Today’s post looks at the significance of Easter in the Church.
John MacArthur is forensic in his examination and knowledge of the Bible, which is why I enjoy citing his sermons.
Much scepticism has been written about the empty tomb and Christ’s Resurrection. This sermon of MacArthur’s as well as another, ‘An Empty Tomb with an Angelic Explanation’, goes through all the naysayers’ theories and, using the Gospel accounts, proves them wrong.
Resurrection established, what does Easter mean? I shall quote briefly from the first sermon to provide a few salient points. The subheads and emphases below are mine.
No Resurrection, No Christianity
… the resurrection of the Lord Jesus is not just a feature of Christianity, it is its essential truth. In fact, without the resurrection of Jesus Christ, there is no Christianity. The resurrection of the Lord Jesus is not the epilogue to the story. It is not the epilogue to the life of Christ, it is the goal of His life, it is the objective of His life, it is the purpose of His life. The church has always understood that. In fact, the church understood it right from the day of the resurrection on ...
Listen to the importance of the resurrection in the language of the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians chapter 15. “If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain.” If Christ is not raised from the dead in bodily form, then all gospel preaching is useless which means the New Testament is useless because that’s where the first gospel preaching took place. You can cancel Christianity totally. There is no Christianity without the resurrection. None. If Christ is not raised, our preaching is useless, your faith is useless. Worse than that, we are found to be false witnesses of God because we witnessed against God that He raised Christ when He didn’t raise Him, if in fact the dead are not raised. If the dead aren’t raised, then Christ isn’t raised and we have no Christianity and what we’ve been preaching is a lie and a deception …
But He has been raised. And this is the Christian message.
Why Christians Worship on Sunday
For since that time the church has chosen to meet on Sunday, the first day of the week, the day that Jesus rose from the dead to commemorate the most important event in His life and the most important event in human history, His resurrection from the dead. The church did not choose to meet on Friday. The church chose to meet on Sunday because Sunday is the interpretation of Friday. Easter is the interpretation of Good Friday. Resurrection is the divine interpretation of the death of Christ. Resurrection is the divine vindication of the work that He did on the cross. Without the resurrection, the cross means nothing for it has no validation, it has no vindication, it has no affirmation. But when God raised Jesus from the dead, He was affirming and validating and vindicating the fact that He had indeed bore our sins in His own body on the cross. And it satisfied the justice of God with His sin bearing. Without the resurrection, the cross is meaningless, just another death.
This is why I found it so disappointing that little children learned in one London nursery that Jesus died on Good Friday. No mention of Easter or the Resurrection. That doesn’t make any sense at all, which might be part of the teaching plan. It certainly helps the secularists out with their stance that ‘Jesus was a great teacher, nothing more. He lived, He died, the end’.
When did Jesus become Christ and Lord Jesus?
Although the New Testament refers to Jesus as ‘Lord’ — by the Apostles and a few others, Luke in his Resurrection account specifically refers to ‘Lord Jesus’. In Acts and the Epistles we read of ‘Christ’. This is MacArthur’s view from the aforementioned ‘Angelic Explanation’ sermon:
Lord Jesus, that is not a title used in the description of the death and burial of Jesus. But it’s a title of His by way of resurrection. God raised Him from the dead and declared Him Lord. In fact, that is exactly what Peter said on Pentecost, “Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ.” He is now the Lord. “He has now been given the name which is above every name, the name Lord, that at that name every knee should bow.”
Temporal life less important than eternal life
The purpose of the gospel is not just that we might experience the forgiveness of sin. The purpose of the gospel is that we having been forgiven of our sin could enter in to eternal life and live in the bliss of heaven forever in perfect holiness and perfect joy in glorified physical resurrected bodies. Bodily resurrection is peculiar to Christianity. And bodily resurrection is essential to Christianity.
The Christian gospel is not designed to deliver you from your troubles here, not at all, not even close …
Christianity teaches a bodily resurrection and that is the goal of redemption, that we might in glorified human bodies live forever with our glorified Christ and serve Him and worship Him in joy and peace.
What can compare?
The Christian message is that Jesus Christ rose from the grave in a glorified, physical body, in some way like the body you have now only stripped of all that is sinful and fatal and that we one day will receive a body like unto His glorified body and we will live in bodily resurrected form through all the eons of eternity. That is the Christian message, that is not the message of the other religions of the world. There is no resurrection in Buddhism. There is no resurrection of the body in Hinduism, just a recurring, cycling, reincarnation in some different form …
… your body will be different, thankfully. It will have nothing about it that’s fatal, terminal, nothing about it that’s sinful, or wicked. Nothing about it that’s imperfect, but it will be a physical body in a glorified form.
I especially hope this brief explanation of Easter gives any lukewarm believers and those beginning their Christian journey stopping by additional food for thought over the coming weeks and months. May God bless you in your search for the truth.