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March 27, 2005
Why are we here today? Let’s face it: The reason we are here is because nearly 2000 years ago, Jesus arose from the dead. His resurrection is our hope and the reason we do all that we do. If it were not for Christ being raised from the dead, we would be as Paul said, “of all men most pitiable” (1 Corinthians 15:19). If it were not for His resurrection, assembling together and committing our lives to serving Christ would be an exercise in futility. But He did rise from the dead and each time we assemble together we are reminded of that.
This leads us to another observation that needs to be made. To much of the religious world, today is a special Sunday known as Easter. There are many who place special emphasis on this day above the rest. Because Jesus arose from the dead on Sunday (the first day of the week - See Matthew 28:1-2, Luke 24:1, etc.), after the Passover feast, they observe a particular Sunday in Spring based upon rules adopted in the 7th century AD. This day is observed with special Sunrise Services, pageants, various religious and secular traditions and other activities which commemorate that great occasion. But in this I have a great concern. I ask - where in the Bible is the authority for such special services? Where in God’s word do we find Christians setting aside a special Sunday to celebrate His resurrection? The answer is – there is no command, example or inference. Such a special assembly is NOT authorized.
History reveals that this special observance was not observed until around 154-155 AD, between 60 and 85 years AFTER the New Testament was completed. In the New Testament there is NO mention of Easter (The King James Version mentions it once in Acts 12:4 where the proper rendering should be the Jewish observance of the Passover) either in name OR in observance. This holiday actually represented a convergence of THREE different events – the Passover (Jewish), the “Christian Passover” – commemorating the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus occurring about the same time as the Jewish Passover AND the pagan festival of Spring which was observed in early spring. The name Easter is actually from the pagan goddess of the Saxons, Estera, goddess of spring and light. (International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, & Nelson’s Bible Dictionary). Because of its secular origin and silence to its observance in the New Testament, we do not celebrate this day as a special holiday.
This is not to say that we do not commemorate the resurrection of Jesus. We do. In fact we are reminded of His death and resurrection EVERY Sunday as we follow the example of the first century church as they partook of the Lord’s Supper. Acts 20:7 tells us, “Now on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul, ready to depart the next day, spoke to them and continued his message until midnight.” 1 Corinthians 11:17-34 records Paul’s observations about the proper and improper observance of this memorial. After noting their abuses he reminds them, “For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; 24 and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, "Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me." 25 In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me." 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death till He comes.” (23-26). We also remember His resurrection often in our studies - It is interesting to note as you study the book of Acts how virtually every lesson addressed the resurrection of Jesus (see Acts 2:24,32; 3:15,26; 13:30-37, 17:31, etc.). We remember His resurrection when we obey the gospel in baptism. Romans 6:3-6 says, “Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection,” We realize the importance of this event as the very central point of our Christian lives. But in all that we do we seek to follow the pattern He has prescribed for us. Colossians 3:17 says, “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”
Sadly, for many in the religious world today, this is the ONLY time of the year they “go to church”. I am convinced that such is insufficient to please God. We are expected to be an active part of His church assembling as we come together. In Malachi 1:6 the Lord said, “A son honors his father, And a servant his master. If then I am the Father, Where is My honor? And if I am a Master, Where is My reverence? Says the LORD of hosts to you priests who despise My name.” The condemnation of Malachi was a result of mediocre service to God. This well illustrates that our heavenly Father expects more than occasional service in our lives. He expects our all. When asked “What is the greatest commandment”, Jesus answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all you heart, with all your soul and with all your mind.” (Matthew 22:37). As you study the Bible you can clearly see God accepts nothing less than total commitment to Him.
Why are we here today? The members of this congregation are here, not because it is Easter Sunday, but because we are supposed to remember His death and resurrection every Sunday. And what we do today is no different than any other Sunday. Doesn’t God deserve that? Why are YOU here? If your presence today is an exception rather than the rule, let me encourage you to repent and resolve that from this day forward, you will give God and the Lord Jesus Christ the place of prominence He deserves in your life. Think about it.