The Good News of Easter!

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Mark 16:1-7,14-16

He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.” (Mark 16:15)

INTRODUCTION: After Jesus rose from the dead, he told his disciples to go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. Two thousand years later we are still doing that. We are doing that around the world, and we are doing that here in church this morning. We are sharing the good news of Easter. And let me share with you this morning three reasons why the message of Easter is such good news.

1) Good news – Jesus rose from the dead! (Mark 16:15)

Easter is good news first of all because Jesus rose from the dead. I want you to stop and think for a moment what an amazing thing that is. The whole human history is one of death. Everyone has a birth date, and everyone has a death date. Some die young, some live long, but everyone dies. It has been that way from the beginning.

The Bible says that the wages of sin is death. (Romans 6:23) God told Adam back in the garden: “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.” (Genesis 2:16-17) And sure enough, when Adam and Eve disobeyed God by eating of the fruit people began to die.

Their son, Abel, was the first to go, murdered by his own brother, cut short before his time. But in a sense we are all cut short before our time. Because God did not originally create us to die. He created us to live: to live and to love and to serve and to worship him. God is the giver of life. He created the world with light and air and vegetation and all sorts of living creatures. And then he created men and women in his own image and breathed into them the breath of life.

You were not created to die. God created you to live. And yet every single human being from the beginning of history dies.

And so when we read that Jesus rose from the dead, that is good news! It means that somebody finally did it! Somebody finally beat death at its own game. Someone stared death straight in the face, died, was buried and rose again, never to die again. That is good news!

In fact, that would be good news no matter who it was. That would be good news if it were your Uncle Frank or Aunt Mary. It would be good news even if it were some stranger you never met before halfway around the globe. It would be good news because up to that point death had claimed every human being, and now finally someone who died had rose again.

I once saw a missionary video about a tribe that kept the dead bones of their ancestors in wooden boxes in their homes. They kept them there in hopes that perhaps some day one of them might come alive again. But no one ever did. Sometimes they would peak in the boxes but all they would see were the bones of their dead ancestors. They were filled with despair because they didn’t know what happened when they died, and no one ever came back to tell them.

And so when the missionaries arrived and shared with them about Jesus who rose from the dead, they were overjoyed. This was good news! Someone finally did it! Someone finally died and came back again. Easter is good news first of all because Jesus rose from the dead.

2) Better news – Jesus rose from the dead for you! (Romans 4:25)

But the good news of Easter gets even better than that. Because the good news of Easter is not only that Jesus rose from the dead, but that he rose from the dead for you. We read about Jesus in Romans 4:25 that: “He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.” (Romans 4:25)

We often hear that Jesus died on the cross for our sins, and that’s true. Jesus did die on the cross for our sins. We have all sinned against God. The wages of sin is death, and Jesus paid the price for us by dying on the cross for our sins. That is an important part of the gospel, an important part of the good news of Jesus Christ.

But the gospel or good news of Jesus is not complete if we only focus on the death of Jesus. The good news is not only that Jesus died for our sins but that he was raised to life for our justification.

So what does that mean – that Jesus was raised to life for our justification? It sounds pretty important, but what does it actually mean? Well, it is extremely important, because without justification, none of us would ever be saved.

Justification means that through Jesus God declares you righteous in his sight. It doesn’t mean you’ve never sinned. But through Jesus God gives you a righteousness that you never had on your own. Just as God took your sins and placed them on Jesus at the cross, so God takes Jesus’ righteousness and places it on you when you put your faith in Christ.

Think about that. God gives you the righteousness of his own son, Jesus. That means when you approach God in worship or prayer, he accepts you the same way he would accept Jesus. You are forgiven of your sins and made righteous in his sight.

That’s good news! And it was only made possible through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. “He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.” (Romans 4:25)

So how does Jesus’ resurrection bring about our justification? Why wasn’t Jesus’ death on the cross enough? One easy way to answer that question is to ask another: “What if Jesus had not risen from the dead? What if he had died on the cross for our sins, but he never came back to life again? What would that mean?”

It would mean that the sacrifice Jesus offered for our sins on the cross was not accepted by God. It would mean that when Jesus offered himself on the cross on our behalf, that it was not a perfect offering free from all blemish and sin. It would mean that Jesus was not perfectly righteous before God, and therefore he could not share his perfect righteousness with us.

But the fact that Jesus rose from the dead shows that he was righteous. Jesus lived a sinless life of perfect righteousness and then he offered up that perfect life as a perfect sacrifice for our sins.

I could write you a check this morning for $50, and you would be excited. You could take that check to the bank and cash it. Or I could write you a check for a million dollars, and you could take that check to the ATM and deposit it, and three days from now, guess what? You’re going to get a call from the bank telling you that check’s no good. And if the check’s no good, you’ve got nothing!

On Good Friday God wrote a check for the greatest amount in human history. He offered up his Son on the cross as full payment for all the sins of humanity. And three days later on Easter Sunday the check cleared! That’s what the resurrection is all about. The fact that Jesus rose from the dead shows that God accepted his sacrifice as perfect and righteous. And when you put your faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, God takes the righteousness of Christ and gives it to you. “He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.” (Romans 4:25)

So yes, it’s good news that Jesus rose from the dead. But it’s even better news to know that he did it for you. It’s good news that someone, anyone rose from the dead. But it’s even better news that it was Jesus who rose from the dead, because only Jesus lived a perfect, sinless life and offered that life up for you and me.

The good news is that Jesus rose from the dead. The better news is that Jesus rose from the dead for you. But wait, there’s more!

3) Best news – You can conquer death, too! (Romans 6:5)

Because the good news of Easter is also that Jesus shares his resurrection with you. Because Jesus conquered death, you can conquer death, too! Jesus didn’t rise from the dead simply to share his righteousness with you. Jesus rose from the dead so that you also could rise from the dead! And that’s the best news of all!

We read in Romans 6:5: “If we have been united with him … in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection.” (Romans 6:5) Notice that word “if” at the beginning of that sentence. There is a condition presented in this verse: “If we have been united with him … in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection.” (Romans 6:5) That means if we have not been united with him in his death, them we will not be united with him in his resurrection. If you want to share in Christ’s resurrection, you must first share in his death.

So how do you do that? How do you share in Christ’s death that you might also share in his resurrection? The Bible is clear on this point. You must die to yourself and turn to God through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. You must confess that you are a sinner in need of a Savior. You must believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross for your sins and rose again. You must turn away from your sins and commit yourself in faith to him.

And when you do that you are united with Christ by faith. You are united with him in his death, and if you are united with him in his death, you will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection.

We demonstrate this new life and faith in Christ through baptism. When we are baptized, we go under the water, we are buried under the water, symbolizing death to self and our old way of life. And when we come up out of the water, it is a symbol of the resurrection, bursting out of our graves with new life and power given to us through Jesus Christ. And it is a reminder that one day we will be raised from our physical graves to live with God forever in our resurrected and glorified bodies.

The good news is that Jesus rose from the dead. The better news is that Jesus rose from the dead for you! But the best news is that through Jesus you can conquer death, too. Whether you are buried in the ground or your descendants keep your bones in a box in the living room, you will rise again. One day they will peak in the box and the bones will be gone. Because when Christ returns, he will raise the bodies of all those who have put their faith in him. And so we will be with the Lord and each other forever. That’s the good news of Easter!

CONCLUSION: I would like to close this morning by sharing with you about a man named William Sangster. Sangster pastored a church in England in the 1940’s and 50’s. When he was 58 years old he was diagnosed with an incurable disease that was causing his muscles to atrophy. When he first learned of the disease he made the following four resolutions: 1) I will never complain. 2) I will keep the home bright. 3) I will count my blessings. 4) I will try to turn it to gain.

Over the next several years his body became paralyzed as he lost muscle movement and was eventually left with no voice and movement only in two fingers. He continued to use those two fingers to write and communicate. On Easter morning in 1960, just a few weeks before his death, he wrote the following words: “How terrible to wake up on Easter and have no voice to shout, ‘He is risen!’ Far worse, to have a voice and not want to shout.”

Folks, we have the best news ever to share. Jesus rose from the dead! Jesus rose from the dead for you! And through Jesus you can conquer death, too! That is the good news of Easter, and that’s worth shouting about. He is risen! He is risen indeed!

*Note: Story of William Sangster adapted from Vance Christie, “Shouting ‘Christ is Risen’ – William Sangster”, http://www.vancechristie.com/2016/03/23/shouting-christ-risen-william-sangster/

© Ray Fowler

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By Ray Fowler. © Ray Fowler. Website: http://www.rayfowler.org

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