Message delivered March 25, 2018, at Crosspoint, North Crestview, to middle and high school students. Message developed from outline from Orange.
Hey guys, I’m Kat, and before I talk to you about important stuff tonight, I want to tell you a few things about me. I don’t want to just throw information at you; I want you to know a little bit about who I am, and maybe some of it is relatable to you.
First, the simple stuff. I lived in Evansville, Indiana, for the first 18 years of my life. Evansville is a lot like Crestview, but instead of being an hour from the beach, I was an hour from nothing but corn fields. Also we had a really cool theme park in Santa Claus, Indiana, called Holiday World, and each section of the park was named after a different holiday.
Speaking of holidays, here’s another fact about me. My parents got divorced when I was about 10, and once I started to get over the emotions that brings, I realized something very special about children of divorced parents. Guys… we get two of every holiday! It’s great! Ok, but honestly, growing up with divorced parents was hard, and it still comes up in my counseling sessions every now and then.
Alright, last fact about me, and I promise we’ll get started. Easter in every family looks a little bit different, right? Well in my family, Easter is insane. I don’t have much extended family nearby in my hometown, so my parents and siblings and I would pack up on holidays and go over to a friend’s house for their family dinners. We went over there for Thanksgiving, 4th of July; you name a holiday, and we were there. But probably the most eventful of the holidays we spent there was Easter, because at their house, they didn’t just have an Easter Egg hunt. They had a full contact Easter egg hunt. There would be hundreds of eggs all around the yard, and these eggs didn’t just have candy; they had quarters and dollar bills. And all eggs were fair game, even the ones already in someone’s basket! Guys, it was intense.
All that is to say, it’s Easter time, right? Next week at church we’re going to celebrate Easter, and maybe you’ll go home and have a full contact Easter egg hunt, or maybe your mom will make you dress up and take pictures with your siblings. I don’t know what Easter looks like for you, but when I was in middle school, it was way more about finding those dollar bills in Easter eggs than anything else.
But what’s Easter actually about? It’s one of those religious holidays that has gotten commercialized over the years. We see the Easter bunny and eggs and candy in stores and it sort of eclipses the real meaning of the holiday.
As it turns out, here’s what Easter is about: Jesus died on a cross. God sent his son not only to live with us on earth like we talked about back at Christmastime, but also to die for us, and take on the punishment that we should have received for our sins. Ok, that’s a huge concept, but that’s not what I want to spend time on today. After Jesus died, he was buried. The put him in a tomb and rolled a big stone in front of the opening and he was dead in there for 3 days.
But guys, get this — then he rose from the dead! And not as a zombie or a ghost. He actually came back to life! And Easter is the day that we celebrate that.
Ok, crazy, I know. Seems totally unbelievable. You’re going, Kat, there’s no way. But that’s what I want to talk about today. And that brings up two really big questions:
Did it really happen?
People don’t come back to life, right? That’s not a real thing that happens every day. So it’s understandable that there would be some disbelief about this fact. There’s not any visible proof. Like, no one was wandering around 2,000 years ago to take pictures of the whole thing and upload them to the cloud so we would have proof today. Right? That’s not a thing!
Luckily, though, we have eyewitness accounts. We have writings from people who were there, who saw Jesus die on a cross, and then encountered him later when he was alive. Matthew the tax collector wrote about it. Mark the evangelist wrote about it. Luke the doctor wrote about it. And John the fisherman wrote about it. That’s four different men with different occupations and different lives, who all wrote about the same thing. Not really a coincidence.
But there are actually non-biblical accounts that the writers of these 4 books are indeed who we think they are, and there are a ton of different copies of these books written in different languages, and there’s no way all of these documents could line up their facts if they weren’t true.
Again, I could go on about this, but I’ll spare you. Basically, a lot of smart people, scholars and historians, have determined that we can believe what these guys have written.
The apostle Paul, who lived around the same time frame, writes this in his letter to the people of Corinth: ‘I passed on to you what was most important and what had also been passed on to me. Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said. He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, just as the Scriptures said. He was seen by Peter and then by the Twelve. After that, he was seen by more than 500 of his followers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died. ‘ 1 Corinthians 15:3-6
That’s more than 500 people who saw Jesus after he was very publicly crucified and buried.
Paul wrote a lot of letters to a lot of different churches at the time, and he talked a lot about how important Jesus is in all of them.
Ok, so why does that matter to us? We know it mattered to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, right? And we know it mattered to Paul. But what about us?
Guys, the resurrection means that Jesus is who he says he is. Before he died, he told his disciples that he was going to die, and that he would be back in 3 days. There are so many promises that are made to us in the Bible, and because God followed through on this one, that his son would raise from the dead, we get to believe all of his other promises, too. That’s crazy! That’s so exciting! All those verses about God having a plan for us and Jesus conquering sin and death and the power of the Holy Spirit, we can believe there’s truth in all of those because Jesus raised from the dead!
AND John 3:16 tells us that whoever believes in him — in his promises, in what he says, in the fact that he rose from the dead — will not die, but have eternal life. Guys, just like Jesus rose from the dead, we get a new life when we die too, and all we have to do is believe that Jesus is who he says he is!
Ok, so what’s your next step? What does all of this mean for you?
Maybe this is all news to you. Maybe you’re like I was at Easter, and you’re really just in it for the dollar bills and candy. If that’s you, maybe it’s time you believe that Jesus is who he says he is. I didn’t start believing in him until I was 12, and it was actually on Easter Sunday that I decided to take that step and believe he is who he says he is. I’d heard the stories, but I just didn’t get it until then. Guys, Jesus didn’t just die for us, he came back to life! And don’t take my word for it! Go home and read to book of John in the Bible. Read what these guys tell us about Jesus.
Or maybe you already believe in Jesus, but you need to trust him. Maybe you’ve been coming to church for a while, and you pray every now and then, but you haven’t given Jesus control of your life yet. You’re still holding on to your past, your problems, your preferences. Guys, that was me until I was in college. One day I heard a message a lot like this one, and the preacher asked, what part of your life have you not surrendered to Jesus, and I knew right then and there that I needed to give up my own ways and follow him instead. Maybe you need to take a step past believing, and start trusting him to be Lord of your life, to take the lead.
Or maybe you need to live like Jesus. Maybe you believe, and you trust him, but you haven’t gone all-in. You’re cool with the whole Christianity thing, but you haven’t taken the plunge. Maybe your next step is to live a life that screams the truth of God, that shows his love to everyone you encounter.
As we get ready to go to breakout groups, I want you to think about what your next step is. Do you believe that Jesus is who he says he is? Do you trust him to take the lead in your life? Do you live like him?
How would your life be different if you took that next step? What would change?
And then what would it look like if we celebrated Easter all year long? Our God defeated death! That deserves more than just one day a year, right?