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When Easter Becomes Just Another Holiday

 

I Corinthians 15
Related Sunday School Lesson, Bible Studies for Life, Apr 4

 

When I was a child the ideas and concepts behind syntax and grammar were uninteresting at best. However, as I have grown in age and hopefully wisdom I am discovering that punctuation, or the lack thereof, can change everything. As an example, in celebrating Easter, we need to realize the punctuation that God gave us with the Resurrection of Jesus Christ was not a period, question mark, or even a semicolon, but none other than a “dash.”

Why a dash?

According to Webster’s dictionary, the formal definition of a “dash” is as follows, “a punctuation mark – that is used especially to indicate a break in the thought or structure of a sentence.” Notice the phrase “break in thought.” The Christian faith and life that derives from it has a previous necessary concept – the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. If it were not for the Resurrection there would be no faith (see vs. 17) and there would be no Easter holiday, ultimately there would be no hope for tomorrow much less eternity.

 

Know where you stand - 1 Cor. 15:1-4

Every religious figure, Mohammed, Buddha, Confucius, Joseph Smith, David Koresh, to name a few, with the exception of Jesus Christ, has one thing in common. No, not the fact that they wrote, had a following, and established mass movements of beliefs; rather, they are all dead. The life and ministry of Jesus Christ stands in direct opposition to every other religious figure because of the Resurrection.

Often skeptics or the curious will debate the validity or historical significance of the Resurrection; however, 1 Cor. 15:1-4 verifies that it was not just the apostles or women that saw the resurrected Jesus, but over 500 others.

The issue of faith in Christ may have as its foundation and “stance” the Resurrection, but if it were not for humanity’s sin and rebellion toward God then there would be no need for the incarnation (virgin birth), much less the Resurrection. We need to stand on the fact of the Resurrection because of the reality of the sin in our lives.

 

Imagine faith without the Resurrection - 1 Cor. 15:12-19

If Jesus Christ had not risen from the dead, today would be a day of questions: Do people still need to follow the advice of Jesus? Do you think he will ever come back like he said? Were the witnesses to his miracles simply deceived? According to verse 17, the faith known as Christianity would be beyond fruitless, it would be pointless without the Resurrection.

“Worthless,” “vanity,” and “futile” are some of the words utilized to describe the necessity of the Resurrection to the Christian faith. Thus the consequences, according to this passage, are multifold: we would still be in our sin (no hope of forgiveness, salvation, or heaven); we would not have the hope of our resurrection (eternal death, hell, and judgment), and misery in this life (absence of joy, hope, and the promise of tomorrow).

Not only would the Christian faith be considered historically and philosophically false (the entire message of Jesus was centered on the Resurrection) but there would be no reason to preserve its teachings much less gather for times of public worship and study. Imagine what you would be doing today had it not been for the Resurrection, chances are great you would not be in church.

 

Live like the Resurrection matters - 1 Cor. 15:54b-58

It is one thing to “believe” something, it is another to “live” it. For example, many people through the ages have “believed” that Jesus Christ lived, died, and rose again; however the Scriptures claim that salvation comes by belief and “confession” (Rom.10:9-10). When one confesses Jesus Christ as their Savior it is not merely an academic or mental assertion, it is a life transformation (2 Cor. 5:17; Rom. 12:2).

One’s passion for the Christian faith is a “mirror image” of one’s grasp of the Resurrection. When one has a “take it or leave it” mentality regarding their faith, in essence they are saying, “the Resurrection may be important but it’s not that important.” When one has an apathetic disposition toward their faith they are stating, “I do not grasp the extent which Jesus undertook during the crucifixion and resurrection.”

On the other hand, when one fully embraces the Resurrection as 1 Cor. 15:54b-58 reiterates it – “death swallowed up,” and “victory” in Jesus – then apathy and double mindedness will not occur. In its stead passion and perseverance will manifest.

Easter is the central “holiday” for the Christian faith (as a reminder, if it were not for Easter we would not celebrate Christmas). It should be a day of celebration. It should be a day of remembrance. It should be a day of gratitude.

Additionally, it should be a day of personal reflection – how am I, if I am, living out the Christian faith? If your faith has slipped into apathy then today is the perfect opportunity to “re-center” yourself upon the foundation of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

If you have never embraced the truth and salvation contained in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ then today is the perfect day to believe and confess Jesus Christ as your Savior. Either way, Easter should be a perfect day – just like the life of the One whom it celebrates. Today is not just another holiday because Jesus was not just another man, or religious figure.

Possible discussion question: (It is designed to be thought provoking and hypothetical, not literal.) The goal is to establish the fact that all of our convicts regarding morality, ethics, and purpose in life derive because of the Resurrection, not in spite of it.

Would you be a “Christian” or would you adhere to a Christian lifestyle if the Resurrection were not true?