Easter is a celebration of new life, hope

Published 1:48 pm Saturday, April 7, 2012

by the Rev. Tommy Speight

What is Easter? Easter is different things to different people.

To some it is baskets of candy delivered by a lovable bunny. To others it is new spring clothes or time away from school and no homework —or the time to start cutting grass. For a few in college, it is spring break in the Caribbean to party.

But for Christians, it is the celebration of the greatest event in history: the resurrection of Jesus from the grave.

The Easter story is the cumulating of the three-year ministry of Jesus, God’s one and only Son. Jesus is God and claimed to be God when He said: “I and my Father are one” (John 10:30). “When you have seen me you have seen the Father” (John 14:9). “Before Abraham was I am” (John 8:58).

His miracles over sickness and calming a storm on the Sea of Galilee — and feeding of thousands of people with a child’s lunch of sardines and biscuits — demonstrate the power of God. Jesus walked on the water and raised three people from the dead. Jesus, after being crucified on Friday and being in the tomb the remainder of Friday and Saturday and being raised from the dead on Sunday morning, was alive.

The stone was rolled away to show that the tomb was empty, and Jesus was true to his word. The resurrection becomes the proof positive that Jesus was God. There are 10 resurrection appearances recorded in the Bible of Jesus, and one included a group of 500 people.

Easter is also about hope. Regardless of how bad things become, there is still hope. God is in control and nothing is impossible for Him – even to raise the dead. That is what brings people to church on Easter. This speaks to the greatest, most perplexing question of man: If a person dies, will he live again? Is there life after death? Yes, the resurrection proves this without a shadow of a doubt.

There is a story Jesus told about a rich man and a beggar named Lazarus who both died, and afterward they were very much alive, conscious and aware of their surrounding in Luke 16. The names in the story prove there were real people whom His listeners knew well. But they were in two separate places after death.

One was in the presence of Abraham, one of the Old Testament saints who trusted and believed in God. And the other was in a place of torment and suffering. There is life after death. Once you breathe your last breath, everyone will pass through the doorway of death either to the presence of God – heaven or the absence and separation of God. Our life on earth is the opportunity to choose where we will spend our eternal destinies.

We all have a choice of where we go after death, and it comes down to our relationship to Jesus Christ. Heaven is a perfect place and God will not allow any sin in heaven.

So what do we do with our faults, imperfections and sin? That is what Jesus did on the cross. He died for our sins and took our punishment. And if we would acknowledge Him as our Savior and ask Him to come live within our hearts and ask forgiveness of our sin and rebellion and turn from our sin, we are forgiven and adopted into God’s forever family. This is called being born again.

This is what we celebrate at Easter: new life and hope. As the trees come alive in the spring after being dormant all winter, so do believers come alive through the power of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Why not gather to worship the living Lord who was resurrected from the dead and is alive forever more at a church this Easter Sunday? If you do not have a church to attend, or are looking for a place that proclaims Good News with friendly people and a place to find answers to life’s most difficult questions, let me invite you to Courtland Baptist. We will have one worship service at 10 a.m. Easter Sunday. We would love for you to worship with us.