For I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.
1 Corinthians 15:3–5 (NRSV)
This Sunday is Easter, or as I prefer to call it, Resurrection Sunday. Many people will flock to churches all over the world who have not been in church for quite some time. There is something special about the day that even entices nominal or cultural Christians to make an effort to attend.
If you are looking for the most important day to celebrate as a Christian, this would be it. Notice, that the Apostle Paul says that the fact Jesus’ resurrection is of “first importance,” and he is correct.
In the remaining verses of 1 Corinthians 15, Paul tells us why Jesus’ resurrection is of first importance; if it didn’t happen then our faith in Christ makes no sense. Without the resurrection, our faith is a fairy tale or worse a hoax.
In the opening verses of his letter to the Romans, the Apostle Paul says that Jesus was, “descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be Son of God with power… by resurrection from the dead” (Romans 1:2–4). Jesus’ resurrection was God’s stamp of approval on all that Jesus said and did.
The resurrection also demonstrates that God did something important in Jesus’ death on the cross. By taking upon himself the penalty of the sin of the world, Jesus released us to be who God created us to be all along.
It is very significant that Jesus was crucified on Passover rather than the Day of Atonement. These two Jewish holy days are important, but for different reasons. The Day of Atonement emphasizes forgiveness; the Passover emphasizes the Jews’ release from slavery to be God’s ambassadors in the world.
Easter is about atonement in a sense, but it is more about freeing us from the bondage of sin so we can be God’s ambassadors in the world – that is the Revolution! On the cross, God inaugurated a plan for the rescue of the world and the establishment of the kingdom of God. The Revolution continues when we personally join in and become God’s co-workers in the restoration of the world.
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Alan Cassady serves as Senior Pastor at Navarre UMC, and has been at the church since 2011. When he's not preaching and teaching, he enjoys sci-fi movies and FSU Football. Read more about Alan here.