Easter Day is the most important festival in this world. It is the most significant festival for humans in every age. We cannot lessen its significance for humans by ignoring it or by ceasing to observe it. There is something about Easter that challenges us “to our back teeth” as they say. Why is it more important than other festivals? It is because of what happened at that first Easter and the implications arising from what took place then.
Easter is more important than Christmas. Jesus the Son of God (the Creator) was born into this world on that first Christmas Day in the form of an infant. He was to be called “Jesus” meaning “Saviour” for He would save His people from their sins. He was born to die for the whole human race. More personally He was born to die for you and me. But His lowly birth introduced Him into a more significant role.
Easter is more important than Good Friday. The latter was the day on which Jesus was crucified. He died as the Saviour on the cross bearing the sins of all the world. Paul described Him as the Passover lamb, 1Cor 5:7 …. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. But if he hadn’t risen from the dead it would meant that evil had triumphed over goodness; death had triumphed over life; and that death was the end for all people. There would be nothing beyond death. But St Paul reminded us that the death of Jesus was followed by His resurrection from the dead. 1Cor 15:3-8, (3) For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, (4) that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, (5) and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. (6) Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep.(7) Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles.(8) Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. He made the point that if Jesus had not been raised from the dead, life would have no meaning or purpose. 1Cor 15:17-18, And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. (18) Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.
Easter Day reminds us that Jesus who was born to die, did indeed die but He rose again as the victor over sin, over evil, over death and over the powers of darkness which try to destroy us. On Good Friday Jesus cried out from the cross, “It is finished”. His work of redemption had been completed. He had borne the penalty for the sins of whole world. As someone once said, “The resurrection is the ‘AMEN’ of the Father to the ‘It is finished’ of the Son (on the cross).” The resurrection was the evidence that Jesus had accomplished what He had come to do through His life and His death. God was satisfied with what Jesus had done on the cross to deal with human sin and rebellion. He raised Him from the dead. With that in mind we look at the reading from Acts 10 for a few moments.
In Acts 10 Peter had come to the home of a Gentile (non-Jewish) man. These Gentiles wanted to know more about Jesus. Peter gave them a thumb-sketch of Jesus’ ministry. He gave these salient points.
1). Jesus Was Anointed By God To Minister On Earth. Acts 10:34-48. (34) Then Peter began to speak to them: “I truly understand that God shows no partiality, (35) but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. (36) You know the message he sent to the people of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ–he is Lord of all. (37) That message spread throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John announced: (38) how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power; how he went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. (39) We are witnesses to all that he did both in Judea and in Jerusalem. Jesus’ ministry was done under the anointing and the empowering of the Holy Spirit. He healed the sick. He healed all those oppressed by the devil. “Oppressed” is katadunasteúō (“dynasty” is from the same root) meaning to rule, tyrannize, control harshly). How did He accomplish this victory? For God was with Him. As Jesus explained in John 14:10, the Father was behind every facet of his ministry in His words and works, Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works.
2). Jesus Was Killed By Humans. 39b. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree. That was the meaning behind the events on Good Friday. Jesus became a human so that He might live as a human, and die as a human at the hands of humans, for humans. But that wasn’t the end of Him. Death could not hold Him down.
3). Jesus Was Raised From The Dead. 40-41. God raised him on the third day and allowed him to appear, (41) not to all the people but to us who were chosen by God as witnesses, and who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. He was really alive on that first Easter day. He was no phantom or ghost. Hundreds of people saw Him as risen from the dead on different occasions. Jesus was and is a living Saviour!
4). Jesus Wanted Everyone to Know He is Going to Judge Them. 42-43. Peter told his hearers, (42) He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one ordained by God as judge of the living and the dead. Jesus is the Creator of this universe. He is the Saviour of all who put their trust in Him for salvation. He is to be the judge of every human being ever born. God’s judgment isn’t the topic you would normally introduce initially to those looking seriously at the faith. But Peter immediately added the good news, that Jesus is the one who brings forgiveness to those who believe in Him, (43) All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”
Remember that Peter was in a Gentile (non-Jewish) home sharing the good news about Jesus with Gentile people. They had gone to all the trouble to find out about this Jesus by bringing Peter to this home to tell them about Jesus. They were open to the gospel, open to the good news about Jesus. Open to all the good news including the fact that Jesus saves believers from the coming judgment of God.
Something amazing happened as Peter was speaking. It often happens when people are open to the gospel message, and open to Jesus. We read what happened, (44) While Peter was still speaking, the Holy Spirit fell upon all who heard the word. (45) The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astounded that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles, (46) for they heard them speaking in tongues and extolling God. They had sovereignly been born again of the Spirit of God. They now had forgiveness of their sins in Christ. They now belonged to the people of God. As such they could be baptised into the faith and into the family of God. Then Peter said, (47) “Can anyone withhold the water for baptizing these people who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?”(48) So he ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Peter was saying, “They belong to God. We as Jewish believers and they as Gentile believers belong to the same family of God. We belong to one another in Him.” So they were baptised as a sign that they already belonged!
Historically it meant that Jesus (who had risen from the dead and ascended back to heaven) had poured out the Holy Spirit on the first disciples on the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2. He had then poured out the same Holy Spirit on the Gentiles who believed in Him in Acts 10. He continues to pour out His Spirit on those who are open to the gospel and open to the living Christ even today. He is ALIVE and He can become ALIVE IN US as we believe in Him and ask Him into our lives.
Blog No.069. Jim Holbeck. Posted on (Easter Day) Sunday 8th April 2012