The True Story of Easter

TEASER: “Do you see how polarizing the resurrection is?  That if we deny the resurrection of Jesus Christ, then you coming to church for one hour a week is a waste of your time.  But if you accept the resurrection of Christ then it ought to be of much larger and significant part of your life than just that.”

Pastor Dan Borgelt
Kirkmont Presbyterian Church
Beavercreek, Ohio 45434
http://www.kirkmont.com/

Sermon AUDIO (listen while reading TRANSCRIPTION BELOW:

THE TRUE STORY OF EASTER (verbatim transcription)
Pastor Dan: “So I was in college and I had met this girl, and we had become friends with each other, and started hanging out… we were doing a ministry together to teenagers… and in our time spent together during ministry I developed sort of an affection for this girl and so one night I finally got up the courage to go do something.
We had gone to a basketball game, and it was a Friday night, and the game ended early… and I finally got the courage and said, “Well would you like to go to a, to a movie with me?” And she said, “Yes… sure that sounds good, let me just pop in the restroom… and it took a couple minutes, there was a line for the ladies rest room you know, and so ah, I was standing there by the concession stand, and they started giving away all the leftover food for FREE… at the concession stand… I’m in college so I took advantage of this situation.

So I had 3 pieces of pizza, 3 Otis Spunkmeyer Chocolate Chip Cookies and 2 glasses of COKE in about a minute and a half (LAUGHTER).

OK… she comes out, says, “Ready to go?” …I don’t even think she knew what I had just done.

So we get to the movies and I’m sitting there and just HURTING BAD… abdominal pain, hurting so bad, I got up, started walking around the theater hallways, stretching and went back into the theater, I couldn’t get rid of the pain.  In fact it got worse; by the time the movie let out I could barely walk.

And so I said, “I think I need to go to the hospital”… you see, a few years earlier I had an appendix rupture and I was worried that I was having some sort of post-surgery problem of some kind.

So we went over to the hospital.. this girl said, “I’ll take you to the hospital”.  We get there about midnight and we’re there all night long; she’s in the waiting room with me in the hospital room.

About 4 in the morning she finally comes into the room like, “you know, what’s the status here?”   I said, “Well I’m just waiting for the X Ray results.  Just as I say that the doctor walks in with the X ray results.  So there I am with the doctor and this girl who I’m on a first date with and the doctor puts the X Ray up and she starts pointing to this part of the X Ray… which is like the equivalent of my entire midsection (laughter).

And she says, “YOU ARE FULL_A_GAS” (LAUGHTER)… full-a-gas.

That was one of the worst moments in my life and I look at this girl… and I’m thinking “I don’t know whether she’s laughing AT me… or WITH me… I’m not laughing at all”…   (laughter).

  (applause).

FULL… is usually a good thing… right? It’ the opposite of full, EMPTY that’s usually a bad thing. I mean if  your wallet’s empty that means YOU’VE GOT NO MONEY… if your gas tank is empty means you’re NOT GOING ANYWHERE; `if your fridge is empty, it means you HAVE NO FOOD… if there’s an empty seat at the table it might mean that there’s BROKENNESS IN YOUR FAMILY…

Empty is usually BAD… Full is usually GOOD.

I mean can you even think of ONE instance where EMPTY IS GOOD?

Pat stole my thunder.. that’s right, it’s EASTER friends. And if the tomb is actually empty, that’s not just good, THAT’S MAGNIFICENT isn’t it.. it’s life changing !!!

But if it’s NOT… then like the video said, we’re all kinda wasting our time here.

Ya know, we titled our sermon here at Kirkmont, “THE TRUE STORY OF EASTER”… that sounds kind of arrogant doesn’t it… like the other guys don’t have it, but we do (laughter).  That’s not what we mean.  All we mean is today we’re just committing to opening up God’s Word and sharing with you what we think the Scripture teaches about Easter and you can decide.

But we’re going to try to pull out THREE TRUTHS from the Book of First Corinthians Chapter 15… three truths about Easter. If you’ve got a Bible we’d love to have you turn with us; if not we’ll have the Scripture on the screen.

By the way, if you’re here this morning and you’re one of those people who is sort of skeptical of this gathering… or maybe you’re a believer generally, but you have your doubts from time to time. I want to put you at ease… that the reason truths exist in the Scripture is that there were people in the early church who were skeptics and had doubts themselves; and therefore God led someone to write the truths we’re about to address. 

So there’s 3 questions that came up in the passage and here’s the first truth, this idea, the most important  one, the idea that :
#1 – JESUS CHRIST WAS RAISED FROM THE DEAD – here’s what the Scripture says in 1 Cor 15:

The Resurrection of Christ

Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand.  By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, well then you have believed in vain.

For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance… “
Now look church, there are times and there’s certain issues that we can all agree to disagree on, and there are certain issues from one church to the next church that we can all agree to disagree on, BUT THIS ISN’T ONE OF THEM. Our first truth is not one of them,

He says, “it is of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, …”
OK, let’s pause there; we haven’t said anything controversial about Jesus up to this point. It’s not controversial to claim that there was a man named Jesus from Nazareth who a little over 2000 years ago was crucified at the hands of the Roman and buried.

There are folks who don’t believe in Christianity who are historians who have studied, who have written about the reality that is not a disputable historical fact: A MAN NAMED JESUS FROM NAZARETH EXISTED AND HE WAS CRUCIFIED AND HE WAS BURIED… it’s what he says next that speaks to our first truth here together this morning.

Not only was He buried, but he goes on to say, that

“… that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,
This is the first truth, THIS IS the heart of Christianity that Jesus Christ was not just buried but that He was raised from the dead as well.

Now the wonderful thing about this passage is that it’s going to tell us that while this is an incredible thing to believe and grasp you’re not forced to put your trust in one single person who saw Him. The Scripture goes on to say this,

and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve.  After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time,
We don’t even have total number that Jesus appeared to in his resurrected state.  What we do have from this passage we know it’s OVER 500 because at one point in time he had appeared to over 500 people at the same time. But the number could be WAY larger than that. Then it goes on to say,

“.. most of these people are still living, though some of them have fallen asleep.  Then he appeared to James (the half-brother of Jesus), then to all the apostles,  and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.
This is the one known as the Apostle Paul who’s writing this. And so he says that, ‘look, we don’t have to believe in just the eyewitness of one person, Jesus appeared to many, many people; and it was the fact that the SAW the resurrected Christ that literally transformed and changed the direction of their ENTIRE life.

We don’t have time to get into all of these people Paul mentions, but let’s just take a look at some of the Apostles and look at what their life looked like AFTER they saw the resurrected Jesus Christ. The were SO convinced that they had seen the resurrected Jesus Christ, they were willing to tell people about him even to the point of death; and this is what happened to them as a result of their being committed to telling other people they saw the resurrected Jesus:

SIMON, called PETER – was crucified upside down in Rome around 33 years after Jesus’ death;

JAMES, the son of Zebedee – put to death by Herod Agrippa about 11 years after Jesus’ death;

ANDREW – was crucified in Greece on a Cross Shaped X;

PHILIP – was impaled by iron hooks and ankles and hung upside down until he died;

BARTHOLOMEW – also known as NATHANIEL was killed in Armenian, he was killed by the flaying of a whip.

MATTHEW – killed in Ethiopia, he was speared and then beheaded;

THOMAS – he was killed by a spear in India;

JAMES – thrown from the Temple roof and then stoned at the hands of the Pharisees; 

SIMON, the zealot – was crucified

JUDE – killed in Persia

METHIAS – stoned and beheaded.


This is what happened to these people that they had seen the resurrected Jesus Christ, they were willing to die telling people about it.

Now I know, those of you who are up on your news are thinking, “Well, big deal, I’m in touch with sort of radical Islam, all kinds of people all over the globe are dying for their faith… what’s the big deal about this… it doesn’t prove anything.

Let me tell you why I think that these folks, [these followers of Jesus] are completely different about what you’re seeing on the news. What you’re seeing on the news are people who are willing to die killing other people… they’re at WAR. And their primary motivation is to EARN the love and acceptance of God and to atone for the mistakes that they have made in the past.

That’s VERY different than these apostles; these apostles weren’t trying to earn the love of God, they had seen the love of God for them, for you and I displayed on the Cross and it motivated them, convinced them that they ought to commit their whole life to telling people about Jesus Christ.

And THANKS BE TO THEM… right?  Because we’re here today because they were willing to do just that.

Our FIRST TRUTH – the idea that JESUS CHRIST ROSE FROM THE DEAD, we don’t have to believe in the eye witness account of just one person, but HUNDREDS of people, MANY of whom gave their own lives because they were convinced they has seen the resurrected Christ.

– – – – – – – –

Now maybe you’re here today and the first truth is not a problem for you, you’ve heard things about Jesus many times in your life, you’ve heard things like He was a PROPHET or a GREAT TEACHER, the SON OF GOD… or whatever it might be–the idea that some man 2000 years ago rose from the dead is something that you might be able to embrace.

But your problem today… is you’re sitting there thinking, WHAT DOES THAT HAVE TO DO WITH ME? What does someone being raised from the dead 2000 years ago have to do with ME?`

That brings us to our second truth, this idea that not only was Jesus Christ risen, but the Scripture tells us that WE have that hope in Christ as well.  Here’s what it says… you can see the objection in the beginning of this passage, moving into verse 12,

But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised.
You see, Paul is showing us that there is such a connection between Jesus’ resurrection and our resurrection someday that the Bible never leaves it open for the possibility that Jesus is risen from the dead but not us.

In fact he says the connection is so strong that if it’s true that WE aren’t raised from the dead, then Christ himself wasn’t raised from the dead… that’s what Paul’s saying about the incredible connection between Jesus’ resurrection and our resurrection.

And then he goes on to say.. again, if you’re someone who’s worried about YOUR own resurrection here’s what he says,

And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either.  And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.  Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.

So Paul says if we stop with the resurrection of Christ and don’t also include OUR resurrection then I’m wasting my time preaching and you’re wasting your time listening to me.  He says all of that is a complete waste then.

Do you see how polarizing the resurrection is?  That if we deny the resurrection of Jesus Christ, then you coming to church for one hour a week is a waste of your time.  But if you accept the resurrection of Christ then it ought to be of much larger and significant part of your life than just that.

It ought to shape then HOW WE DO MARRIAGE, it ought to shape HOW WE RAISE OUR KIDS, it ought to shape HOW WE GO TO THE WORKPLACE, it all to shape all aspects of our life once we embrace the resurrection.

The resurrection is polarizing, he’s forcing us to decide, ‘are we going to be the type of people who accept the resurrection or deny the resurrection’.

You know there’s no secret that here at Easter time the churches across America swell up in attendance; and I’m bringing that up not to embarrass anybody, not to make anyone feel guilty or anything, but just simply to help you see that the Scripture is trying to tell us that the resurrection is a polarizing thing.

And if you come to church for one hour out of the year on Christmas or Easter and there’s a LOT of reasons WHY we do that… some of us do it to get our RELIGIOUS FIX, some of us do it just to PLEASE MOM or dad or whatever it might be… Paul’s saying, if you do that and you don’t really believe in the resurrection then maybe you’re really wasting your time.  Quite frankly I might add making a mockery of our gathering.

But if YOU DO believe in the resurrection, then I’m inviting you to consider the idea that it ought to impact more of your life than just those two dates… and the same can be said for the rest of us as well.

The resurrection is indeed polarizing; you see he is writing to a group of people who are living like there is a resurrection, but are questioning whether there actually is… but we might also speak today to those people who are gathered here who in theory believe in the resurrection but aren’t LIVING like it’s a reality… he says we’re to be pitied then… MORE than all men.

– – – – – – —

Well maybe the idea of embracing the idea of Jesus’ resurrection is alright with you, and maybe in theory you’re OK to embrace the idea of YOUR resurrection as well, but when it comes down to it, you’re really just not that excited about that whole idea.

The whole concept of heaven and eternal life doesn’t excite you, doesn’t make you enthusiastic… OUR LAST TRUTH SPEAKS TO THAT… our last truth says this, moving into verse 35 and this idea of the Resurrection Body, he says this,

But someone may ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?” 


So again, the questions are being asked here at the church. Now Paul was pretty gracious in first two responses wasn’t he?  And now he starts to appear a little agitated.

How foolish! 


He’s not calling people fools who genuinely ask questions… you’re allowed to ask, you’re allowed to be a seeker. You’re allowed to say, “I’m just undecided”… that’s not who he’s condemning, he’s addressing a group of people who are raising questions for the purpose of persuading others against the resurrection, He says,

What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. But when you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else.  But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body.  Not all flesh is the same: People have one kind of flesh; animals have another, birds another and fish another. There are also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies; but the splendor of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendor of the earthly bodies is another.  
Ya know, I love this passage of Scripture because when it comes to the idea of us being excited about the resurrection and eternal life and heaven, what I find is that most people simply aren’t because that idea of eternal life is just so UNKNOWN to them.  It’s like, ‘THIS is what we know, and yeah, life might be difficult at times, but at least we KNOW it and so our affections lie here and that’s really where our hearts and minds are and they haven’t really moved on to eternity… and heaven and the idea of the resurrection.

I mean think about what we think of when we imagine heaven and talk about heaven in our culture… I don’t know about you but the most dominate image I grew up with for a long time is the idea that SOMEDAY WE WILL FLOAT AROUND LIKE MYSTICAL SPIRITUAL BEINGS IN HEAVEN, ya know like eternal ghosts… ya know, WOOOOOOO.. (laughter).

Who wants to do that?  Of course our affections are not in heaven and we’re not excited about the resurrection if that’s our impression of heaven. The other impression of course people get is that we all have seen the images of somebody sitting on a cloud playing the harp… well, I’m not very musical, I’m not that interested in doing that for all of eternity, and I’M AFRAID OF HEIGHTS… (laughter)… I don’t want to sit on a cloud and play the harp.. right?  No wonder we’re not excited about heaven, no wonder our affection is not there… but LISTEN TO WHAT HE SAYS, he says,

There are also earthly bodies and there are heavenly bodies;


Now you might be thinking, ‘whelp, there’s TWO different things.. but there’re NOT completely two different things as you might have imagined.  He still uses the word BODY to describe BOTH… and earthly body and a heavenly body.

If he wanted to say what many of us think, he could’ve said, “While you’re here on earth you will have a body, and then someday in heaven you will be Spiritual.  But he doesn’t say that; he says you will have an EARTHLY BODY and you will have a HEAVENLY BODY.

Friends, I don’t know about you but, I’M COUNTING ON A DIFFERENT BODY IN HEAVEN (laughter).. a little taller, a little less gassy.. Right? (LAUGHTER).. I mean I’ve got some HOPE in that and he’s saying, ‘we’ve got an earthly body but then there’s also a heavenly body; and this earthly body is fit and appropriate for this temporary time here on earth but our heavenly body is designed to be in the most glorious place that we could ever possibly imagine for all of eternity… is what he’s saying.

Some of you are smart, you’ve read on a couple verses, you say, “Well it says a couple verses later, “SPIRITUAL BODY” … what does THAT mean? Here’s what it means… that the moment we were conceived God not only made us in SPIRIT, but He gave us a body as well… an EARTHLY body.

And some of our earthly bodies don’t ever leave the womb; and some of them last for a hundred years; but THEY ALL DIE. But we are more than just an earthly body, we are also Spiritual. And that part of who we are will last in eternity.. either WITH GOD or without God.

We are not eternal beings, because we have a definite beginning. But we are everlasting beings because WE HAVE NO END.

And by Spiritual body he means, that while we have an earthly body that will come to an end, when that happens our Spirit will be connected… who we are will be connected with a new body, a heavenly body, a spiritual body that is designed to last for all of eternity for who we are.. just like we are Spiritually.. and I’ll say it again, IN A PLACE THAT JESUS IS PREPARING RIGHT NOW FOR US THAT IS MORE GLORIOUS THAN WE CAN EVER POSSIBLY IMAGINE.

I know there’re some of you, as we gather together for Easter this morning… some of you are gathering together withOUT a loved one for the first time. Some of you maybe are gathering here having heard news about your health or the health of a loved one making you wonder, will YOU or will THEY be here next year at Easter?

I hope our passage this morning has brought some comfort to you and perhaps you might be comforted by something I thought of once that comforted me…

Ya know as a father one of my greatest moments as a father has been when my children fall asleep somewhere other than their bed. Right?  Because, what do we do when that happens?   We approach them sound asleep, completely peaceful, we pick them up in our loving arms and move them to the place where they belong and they wake up and it just had “happened”. (smiling).

Now of course as they get bigger I’m losing affection for that (laughter). 

But in some way, I don’t mean to imply that it take 9 or 10 hours of sleep, but I think our Scripture is quite clear, “to be absent from the body is to be present with Christ” is IMMEDIATE. But in the same way, those who are in Christ are able to fall asleep peacefully knowing that their Father will bring them to the place that He has prepared for them.
This morning, we’re going to come to the communion table together… and ah.. we had some discussion, some debate as to whether we would have communion on Easter… we normally have it on the first Sunday of the month and it happened to be on Easter this year.  And we decided we would have communion together because this table reminds us that the resurrection idea wasn’t an afterthought… that Christ was not a helpless victim on the Cross, that HE PURPOSELY OFFERED HIS LIFE AS A SACRIFICE FOR OUR SINS.

– – – – – – – –

ALL Pastor Dan’s Sermons:
http://www.kirkmont.com/sermons.htm

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