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"The Meaning Of Easter - Tell it with a card" by Jennifer Phillips

Notes for sermon at St. Margaret's Church, Nerang,  12/3/17

 

A question for the children: What is the first thing that comes into your mind when you think of Easter? When I was your age, it was all about hot cross buns [card 1] and Easter eggs. [card 2]

But are chocolates and buns a good enough reason for a national holiday?

[Show card.] The egg on this card hides the story of Easter. Sometimes Easter eggs still hide or obscure the true story.

What do they mean? Are they just reminders?
Do we eat hot cross buns just to remember Jesus death on a cross? Do we eat chocolate eggs just to remember new life?

What’s Easter all about? I remember ... I remember going to church at Easter and waving palm branches. [card 3]

But why did we do that? Why do we still do that? Are we just remembering?

When Jesus rode on a donkey into Jerusalem, the people wanted to make him king.

They said, Bible Reading 1 "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!" "Blessed is the king of Israel!" (John 12:13)

In other words “Hail, Jesus, King of the Jews. Reign over us. We want you to be our ruler and get rid of the Roman rulers." But Jesus didn’t let them make Him King right then. He had come to restore the Kingdom of God, not a worldly kingdom, not the kingdom of men, but His rule in people’s lives.

Jesus said, Bible Reading 2 "Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again" (John 3:3).

When we are born again, we can see the kingdom of God. That means we can see that Jesus is the rightful king over all things and that means he’s our rightful boss or ruler.

It’s easy to wave a palm branch and say "Jesus you are the king." The Hebrews found that easy enough. When things are going well it can be easy for us as well, to say, "Jesus be my King. Jesus You are my ruler. Rule over me". But who is He to us when things are tough, when someone dies? Is He still our Lord, our love, our saviour? [card 4]

Who is He when we see something that belongs to someone else and we want it so badly. Sometimes we don’t want to heed His commandment not to covet what belongs to someone else. Sometimes we think if we just had that thing, we’d be satisfied. Who is Jesus to us then?

Well, if we read the Bible, we will find some antidotes for coveting. One is asking.

James says this: Bible Reading 3 "You don’t have because you don’t ask." (James 4:2)

The Bible tells us about a very dissatisfied woman. She’d had five husbands. That sounds like a very dissatisfied woman to me. Listen to what Jesus said to her.

Bible Reading 4 "If you knew the gift of God and who is asking you for a drink, you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water." (John 4:10)

Can you hear the heart of God in what Jesus said? "Oh, if only you had asked me. I would have satisfied you with life water. It’s not things or even other people that satisfy, but I long to satisfy you. Ask me."

Easter is about a remedy, not only for our lack of satisfaction, but also our sin.

Bible Reading 5 "All of us like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way" (Isaiah 53:5-6).

We’ve all wanted to have our own way, to do things the way we like to do them, without even asking what God wants. That desire for our own wisdom rather than God’s word is what tripped Adam and Eve up too. We have all been like Adam and Eve, wanting our own wisdom rather than God’s word. We have all coveted and failed to love.

The Bible says: Bible Reading 6 "The soul that sins shall die." (Ezekiel 18:20)

We have sinned and we deserve to die. Sin has a ripple effect. It doesn’t just affect ourselves when we sin. It affects others around us. It affects the world. it affects the heart of God. Well, something had to be done about Adam and Eve's sin and our sin, so God did what was needed.

The cross on the hot cross buns reminds us that Easter is about death and a cross.

[card 5] Easter cards sometimes have lilies on them and churches are often decorated with them at Easter. Why? Apparently the bulb of these flowers buried in the ground, represents the tomb of Jesus. The seed dies or is buried in the ground before the new life comes forth. They remind us that Jesus died and was buried and we too die to our own will, so we can live for Christ. This is sometimes referred to as being a living sacrifice.

Easter is about the restoration of something that was lost when Adam and Eve stepped out of God’s rule to have their own way, their own wisdom. When they did that, the earth, began to stop reflecting heaven. Did you know that water reflects what’s above it ... and we are mostly made of water? We were made to reflect heaven.

Bible Reading 7 "Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven" (Matthew 6:10).

The trumpet shape of the lily symbolizes the trumpet call to rebirth and new life.

Jesus said, he had come to call sinners to repentance [Mark 2:17] Our old nature and life is past. It’s time to turn. To leave our old way of living for self. It’s time to repent.

He bore our sins, not so we could live for ourselves and continue to sin, but so we might die to sins and live for righteousness; (1 Peter 2:24), live for Him.

Easter is not just about the cross. It’s also about the forgiveness of God.

Bible Reading 8 Isaiah said, "each of us has turned to our own way and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed" (53:5-6).

This means when we accept what Jesus has done for us, we don’t have to face God’s judgment for our sins. There may be consequences for our sins, but with open arms, God offers us forgiveness. It’s is a gift. It’s free for us because Jesus paid for it. He died instead of us. He is our saviour.

[card 6] but He’s more than just our saviour, because that first Easter, God tore the temple curtain from top to bottom. This was the curtain that stopped people from going into the holiest of places. It was such a holy place that no-one but the High priest, who had gone through a ritual cleansing could go in, and he could only go by appointment. If anyone else stepped into that holy place, they would have died.
Well, that first Easter, when the curtain was torn from top to bottom, it was possible for everyone to enter into the holiest of places and meet with God. Even though our sins are really bad, and we deserve to die, God doesn’t want that to happen. He wants us to be as close as possible to Him. He wants to be a true soul-mate, and Jesus, by taking the death we deserve, made this possible.

His pain means our gain!

Bible Reading 9 "remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ" (Ephesians 2:12-13).

But that’s not all. Easter is also about resurrection. [card 7]

Someone died and came back to life.

A few years ago, I died in hospital and heard God speak. He caused me to come back to life too. That was good news for my surgeon and family and friends. But it’s not such good news that every one celebrates it year after year, nor will people on earth be celebrating it for the next two thousand years, or how ever long it is until Jesus returns.

No. The Easter resurrection means so much more.

Bible Reading 10 Jesus said "I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die," John 11: 25.

I believed in Jesus, and He gave life to my dead body. We can spend so much time remembering His death we forget what His resurrection means. It means He conquered death. He is the resurrection and the life, and because of that He was able to speak life into my dead body so I’m alive today. This is amazing stuff and yet that’s not all. Easter is about so much more even than Jesus conquering death!

Bible Reading 11 "Nevertheless I tell you the truth: It is expedient for you that I go away; for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I go, I will send him unto you."

Easter is about Jesus ascending to the Father so the Holy Spirit could come; the Comforter. He is also called the helpmate. If Jesus had only died and not come alive again, we’d be no better off than before His death. We would have forgiveness for sins, but no means of living a better, post forgiveness life. Easter means we can now have God in us, our true soul mate, comforting us and helping us to live a life of Love, in love. God is not just with us, as Jesus was with the people 2000 odd years ago, but He is in us. He wants to fill us, complete us, and satisfy us. [card 8]

So is Easter all about us? Is it just about God making it possible for us to be comfortable, with the Comforter, giving us a satisfied life, now and in eternity? No. [card 9]

It’s about even more than His absolute devotion to us. It’s about God himself coming to earth. It’s about God in Christ humbling Himself because of the great love He has for everything He’s created. Not just us. God limited Himself in order to live among us, to be like us, to be able to feel the pain of human flesh. He did it for the whole world and the whole kingdom. Even creation groans as it waits for the revelation of the son’s of God.

Bible Reading 12 The kingdom of God is about "righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit." (Romans 14:17)

Part of God’s kingdom, the part we don’t often see, is watching to see this peace and joy, to see what the love of God is like. [card 10] They saw what it was like in Jesus and they are watching to see what God’s love is like in us today.

We so often think Easter is about us being saved, but there is more at stake than just our lives. Jesus came as a man so He could not only restore the lost territory, (the lost lands of God) that is, all God’s kingdom, but so that we could be empowered to be heirs with Him and co-workers, so He can give the kingdom back to His father.

Easter means we are co-workers with Christ in seeing all that is lost, restored, and saved. One day Jesus is going to give the kingdom back to His father. It’s not just about us.

Bible Reading 13 "Now if we are children, then we are heirs--heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory" (Romans 8:17).

Easter is not even only about us and Jesus. It’s about the Trinity too. It was about Jesus obeying His father, who sent Him. This is what true humility is. Although equal with God Jesus obeyed His father in order to serve Him and when he died it was the Holy Spirit who raised Him up.

Bible Reading 14 "And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you" (Romans 8:11).

It’s also about the restoration of God’s rightful kingship, over all His promised lands. It’s about His right to rule over all, and His right to be in all. Jesus’s Easter experience not only made this possible, but showed all the powers and principalities that He is the rightful Lord ... and that’s good news amazing news ... and what do we do with news? We share it. [card 11]

Maybe cards are one way we can do that.

 

References in brackets come from the Bible.