EASTER 2024 Easter Facts & Easter Faith

Easter Facts & Easter Faith
Bill Giovannetti
Easter is the day when all around the world, Christians celebrate the most stupendous act of divine power ever recorded, the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.

He conquered death. He conquered the grave. He conquered every dark force in our lives.
He won for us, the tremendous gift of everlasting life. So that right now, today, Jesus Christ is alive. And we are going to see him someday, and be with him forever.
My topic today is: The Easter Facts and the Easter Faith.

And I do want to give you a heads up. At the end of my talk, I want to do something interactive. I'm going to invite you to do something more than just to listen to a message. I'm actually going to invite you to make a choice about the message you hear. I'll explain as we go.

I'm not going to embarrass you or single you out. I promise it won't be weird. But here we go.

Let's start with the Easter facts.

The Easter Facts
After Jesus died, he was taken down from the Cross, wrapped in linen cloths, and laid in a rich man's tomb, in a cave. A large stone was rolled in front of the tomb. The Roman authorities placed a guard outside that tomb, and sealed the stone with the Roman insignia.

After he was buried, all his followers gather in a large room called the Upper Room.

They're all depressed.

I can't live without him.

I thought he was for real, and he died.

I don't know what I'll do without him.

Fast forward to Sunday Morning, the third day.

On that day, Mary, not the mother of Jesus, but another Mary, has some spices. She wants to go anoint the body of Jesus. That's what they did back then.

She gets to the tomb, and the guards are gone, the seal is broken, the stone is rolled away, and the tomb is empty.

She runs and finds Peter and John, drags them to the tomb, they look inside and reach a brilliant conclusion: the tomb is empty.

Mary says, "I told you! I told you!"

What does this mean? They don't know.

Peter and John run off, and Mary falls to her knees weeping.

Suddenly a man is standing beside her. Mary figures he's the gardener.

"Please, sir, can you tell me where they put Jesus."

The man says, "Mary! Mary."

Immediately she realizes. "It's JESUS."

She jumps up, wraps her arms around Jesus, and says, "YOU'RE ALIVE! YOU'RE ALIVE!"

"Please let go, Mary,  I have a very busy day... Go and tell the disciples I'm alive."

So Jesus leaves.
The Disciples
Mary races to the upper room, runs up the stairs, and knocks on the door.

"Oh Mary. It's just you."

"I've seen the Lord!" she says. "He's alive! I've seen the Lord."

"Seen who?"

"I've seen Jesus!"

"Jesus who? Sit down, Mary! Boys, bring some wine!"

Well, the story spreads like wildfire!

Could it be? Could it really be true?
"We had to celebrate this happy day. For your brother was dead and has come back to life! He was lost, but now he is found!" (Luke 15:32)

Easter Facts & Easter Faith

Meanwhile two disciples, not the original twelve, give up on Jesus. They figure they'll head back to their home village, called Emmaus.

A man appears and joins them.

"Why are you looking so miserable?" the man asks.

"Are you the only tourist in town who hasn't heard about Jesus?"

The Man says, let me tell you about Jesus. And beginning with the first book in the Bible, called Genesis, he started teaching them everything the Bible said about the Savior of the world. He goes through the five books of Law, and then the history, and the poetry and the prophets, and ends at Malachi.

Did I tell you it was a 7 mile walk?

Well the little trio finally reaches Emmaus, and the man says, "I'll see you later."

They beg him to stay... "We live right around the corner, have some pasta with us." He says, "Pasta! Why didn't you say so!" They ask him to say grace. When he says grace, the Bible says it's as if the men's eyes were opened, and they realize it's Jesus! Jesus is alive!

One of the men jumps up, races back 7 miles to Jerusalem, flies up the stairs to the upper room, bursts in and yells, "I've seen Jesus! I've seen Jesus!"

Mary jumps up... "I told you! I told you!"

The disciples start to believe, and a party ensues.

Later on, one disciple who was out shopping, returns to a room full of commotion. Wine is flowing. Disco is playing. Disciples are dancing. A chicken is roasting on the spit. A good time is being had by all.

In walks this very confused disciple. His name is Thomas. "What's going on?" he asks.

Another disciple spits little gobs of hummus on his face as he tells Thomas, Jesus is alive! Mary saw him, and the women saw him, and Peter saw him! And men from Emmaus saw him. Thomas, isn't that good news?

Thomas says, "Not so fast. I don't believe it. It's too good to be true. Unless I stick my finger in the holes from the nails in his hands, and stick my hand in the hole from the spear in his side, I will not believe."

Unfortunately for Thomas, Jesus has a great sense of humor, he leaves Thomas hanging for 8 days. Mary is excited. Peter is excited. Hundreds of disciples are excited.
Thomas is the only one not excited.
On the eighth day, Jesus finally joins the disciples in the Upper Room. They are arguing with Thomas, when suddenly Jesus appears in the Room.

He says, "Thomas, reach here, and stick your finger in these holes in my hands. And stick your hand in this hole in my side... and quit doubting, and believe."

Thomas falls to his knees in worship. He says, "My Lord and my God."

Jesus said to him, "Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." (John 20:29)

He's talking about you. He is putting the blessing of salvation on people, who never actually personally see Jesus, but believe in him anyway.

I want to invite you to do that today. Not only that, I want to actually walk you through the simple steps of receiving Jesus as your Savior. I promise you it won't be weird and I won't single you out.

Because having the Easter facts is great, but it's not enough. My prayer and my hope is that you will walk out of here today with the Easter faith too.

So let's talk about that.

The Easter Faith
Jesus gave us a clear lesson of what this means in probably his most famous parable. Here's how that parable ends... and then we'll work backwards.

"We had to celebrate this happy day. For your brother was dead and has come back to life! He was lost, but now he is found!" (Luke 15:32)

This is the famous parable called the Prodigal Son, a parable that Jesus crafted about a father and his two grown sons.

This parable begins when the younger son, we're going to call him Junior, asks for his share of the inheritance early. He, in effect, asks his father to activate his last will and testament, as if he had already died, right then and there.

Which is a pretty horrible thing to ask, don't you think?

Which no self-respecting father would ever do, right?

Yet, that's exactly what Jesus has the father do as he creates this story. It's really an over-the-top, almost shocking kind of love.

The younger son takes a big wad of cash. He has a plan. His plan is to travel as far away as he can. This is a land Jesus calls "the far country." Junior travels there, and lives the life of his dreams.

He thinks.