1 Corinthians 5:6b-8 – Easter Is More Than a Day

All Creation Sings His Praise by Jen Norton

Your boasting is not good. Don’t you know that a little yeast affects the whole batch of dough? Clean out the old yeast so that you may be a new batch of dough—you are, in fact, without yeast. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. So then, let us celebrate the festival, not with the old yeast, the yeast of vice and evil, but with the bread without yeast, the bread of sincerity and truth. (New English Translation)

Easter is more than one day. It’s as if a massive spiritual 10.0 earthquake occurred on that day with a great tsunami of life powerfully overwhelming all of history.

Today begins the Christian season of Eastertide. It is a time of realizing we are without yeast, that is, without any old unhealthy ingredients which may work through the whole batch of dough. We are to live into the new reality given to us by means of Christ’s resurrection from death.

Eastertide spans the next fifty days until the Day of Pentecost. That’s a hefty seven weeks of bringing the new life we enjoy to the forefront. Eastertide’s intentional focus is to acknowledge and celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ, exulting in our own new life in him.

Now, you might say to yourself, “Why do we need to have some liturgical season about Christ’s resurrection? Shouldn’t we be living like we recognize this every day?” Yes, of course we should. 

Yet, consider this: If we only sing songs of resurrection on Easter Sunday and only occasionally think of Christ’s resurrection outside of Easter Sunday, then perhaps, its sage to bring a highlighted focus to the resurrection in a special season. 

Just as it is necessary to take more than one vacation day in the year for renewal, so it is essential to observe more than one day to enjoy Easter. If nothing else, Eastertide gives believers an opportunity to let Christ’s resurrection percolate in our hearts so that we experience new life, as people who exhibit an alive-spirit. And, God knows, we could use much more of that in our congregations and our world!

If eternal life and being fully alive are needed for us, then it only makes sense that we take advantage of what Eastertide has to offer: A deliberate look at Christ’s resurrection, exploring its implications and impact for us. 

Simply assuming we all know about resurrection simply will not do, any more than my wife assuming I love her without looking her straight in the eye and telling her so. 

If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile (1 Corinthians 15:17). Being people of sincerity and truth comes with a purposeful eye on a new resurrected life. Without an Eastertide, there’s a sin-as-usual kind of approach to life with a shoulder shrug that says, “Meh, what’s a guy to do?” 

Methinks that unhelpful boasting and sinful pride are directly related to moving on from Easter Sunday and backsliding to the old life. Like a dog returning to its vomit, so is a church who puts away sin on a Sunday, then goes back to pre-resurrection living – which is no life, at all.

Instead, with Eastertide’s full focus, we have the hope of life everlasting because Christ has risen from death.  We have the hope of individual renewal, corporate revitalization, and worldwide revival because there is a risen Savior.

Therefore, this is the perfect time of year to engage in some renewal practices, or even make a few simple changes that show signs of life. Here are just a few ideas for lifting Christ’s resurrection into the next few months:

Pray for a revival of spirituality. Christ brings life, so praying to God for revival is a deliberate way of connecting with God.

Squarely address the leaven of harmful and unhelpful bread. Gossip, back-biting, slander, injustice, oppression, gaslighting, and hate are all poisonous yeast that kills those who are hungry. Casually sluffing-off someone’s acerbic speech and actions as “That’s just the way they are,” will not do, unless you want to exist in a pro-death culture.

Serve unleavened bread. Promote healthy practices of living. If guilty acts and shameful actions bring death, using our words and deeds for encouragement, love, mercy, forgiveness, and building up one another promotes growth, health, and life.

Proclaim resurrection.  I believe the church is meant to be the hope of the world because Christ is the risen Lord. Graciously proclaim the resurrected Christ and how the spiritual life makes a difference in daily existence.

Start a new ministry you always believed would make a difference. It is the appropriate season to take a risk. After all, if you have eternal life, can you really fail? Host a new in-person or virtual small group. Take initiative to up your knowledge of technology. Read some significant books and start a book club. I’m willing to bet you have some idea(s) rolling around inside you about blessing the world. Now, during Eastertide, is the time to turn that idea into reality.

Eat spiritually nutritious bread. If you would not think of skipping meals for days at a time, then consider the erosion to your soul and your church which can occur when folks don’t read their Bibles on a regular basis or pray with any kind of consistency. Stick to a plan. It will not only bring growth to your own life but will impact those around you.

Just keeping the word “Eastertide” in front of you for the next few months can be a simple yet powerful way of reminding us that God has called us to new life. Let the reality of Christ’s resurrection strengthen your heart so that new life informs all your thinking, speaking, feeling, and acting.

Holy and righteous God, you raised Christ from the dead and glorified him at your right hand. Let the words of Scripture, fulfilled in Jesus your Son, burn within our hearts and open our minds to recognize him in the breaking of bread. Amen.

The Wonder of Christ’s Resurrection

Welcome, friends! In the New Testament Gospel of Luke 24:1-12, we find an account of women approaching the grave of Jesus, only to find an empty tomb. Today, people search for reality in all kinds of empty places. There is, however, hope, because Christ is risen! He is risen, indeed! Click the videos below and let us enjoy and be in awe that Jesus is alive!

Pastor Tim Ehrhardt, Luke 24:1-12

May the glory and the promise of this joyous time of year bring peace and happiness to you and those you hold most dear.

And may Christ, Our Risen Savior, always be there by your side to bless you most abundantly and be your loving guide. Amen.

Luke 24:1-12 – The Wonder of Christ’s Resurrection

Women at the empty tomb of Jesus encountering an angel

On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 

While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’” Then they remembered his words.

When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles. But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense. Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened. (New International Version)

“The message of Easter is that God’s new world has been unveiled in Jesus Christ and you’re now invited to belong to it.”

N.T. Wright

The disciples were stuck in the yesterday of Holy Saturday and the grief of Good Friday. Christ’s death was nothing but bad news, leaving them with an awful wondering about what could have been.

And now, an empty tomb. What does it mean? The disciples did not yet discern the reality and impact of what had happened. Their perplexity and curiosity eventually turned to a different kind of wondering: The amazement that Christ is alive! That Jesus has taken care of the sin issue once for all. That a new order is now in force that forever changes everything!

We, too, have the chance to be amazed and in wondrous awe over the resurrection of Jesus. Because the resurrection of Jesus is not just a doctrine to be believed; it is a powerful reality to be lived, and a source of eternal wonder and praise.

Women Arriving at the Tomb by He Qi

The Wonder of the Female Disciples

Do you wonder why women were the first disciples to encounter the empty tomb and the risen Lord?

Women are central to Luke’s resurrection account because women are central to the gospel. They play a significant role, along with men, in the ministry of the good news of Jesus. Within an ancient culture, and religious milieu, in which men were prominent and women were not regarded as reliable witnesses to anything, God used the female disciples as the very first witnesses of the empty tomb. 

Women now play an important part alongside men in ministry. 

This fact was not lost on the early church, who commissioned both men and women as apostles, serving in the highest ranks of the ministry. For example, Junia was a female apostle – an eyewitness of Christ’s life, ministry, and death, as well as a leader who helped build the Church. (Romans 16:7) 

If you ever “wonder” what role women ought to play in the church, the answer is: They ought to serve in the highest offices of leadership because the female disciples were prominent witnesses to the resurrection, on purpose.

The female disciples were curious about the empty tomb. While they were wondering about it, a couple of angels show up and ask them a question designed to lead them to a proper interpretation of Christ’s missing body:

“Why do look for the living among the dead?”

He Is Risen by He Qi

Many people today seek Jesus among the dead. They look for him in empty places.

Some look for Jesus in good ideas, as if knowledge or education save us. We may reason: If we have all the right information, express right belief, and sign-off on right doctrine, then we are okay. However, we are not saved by thoughts, even understanding, as if our brains are what deliver us from sin, death, and evil. We are saved by the person and work of Jesus Christ (Romans 6:1-23).

Many look for Jesus through their efforts, as if I can work my way into the good graces of God. We believe that action is the key. So, whenever we mess up, we seek penance by beating ourselves up, in some way, to somehow atone for the mistakes. However, Jesus finished the work! We participate with Christ in his death and resurrection through faith, not by works. We cannot do for ourselves what Christ has already done for us. Our “work” is to believe, and to be in wonder. (John 6:28-29)

Folks might search for Jesus in the heart – feeling that if our belief is sincere, if I’m basically a good person, if my heart is in the right place, that’s what matters. Yet, we are not saved through sincerity, or by warm-fuzzy feelings about God, as if our hearts save us.

Our hearts can be desperately wicked and are in need of redemption. Through repentance and faith, people find Jesus. Since Jesus is in the heart transplant business, you will find him wherever there are people with critically low heart function.

To find Jesus, in the ancient world, one needed to find the tax collectors, the lepers, the blind, the poor, or even a Roman Centurion. Today, if you want to find Jesus, he will still be found among the poor, the diseased, the refugee, the immigrant, the prisoner, and those who are despised by others.

The last place you would look, in Christ’s day, is with the religious leaders. And today, whenever we look for God to show up with all the answers and all the heart transformation in church, we then wonder why we cannot see Jesus. That’s because Jesus is not in the grave but, as the risen Christ, is out bestowing new life to the people with sick and hard hearts.

Why do you look for Jesus in church? Rather than asking Jesus to come to us, let’s go to where he is.

Since Christ is alive, we are alive.

We need not be perplexed about the empty tomb because Jesus is alive!  He is risen!  This reality is to impact our lives forever:

Since then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. (Colossians 3:1-4, NIV)

This is the gospel, the good news of Christ. It’s no secret. Jesus made this plainly known. The gospel is not insider news. It’s freely available to everyone. Early in his ministry Jesus said to his disciples:

“The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.” (Luke 9:22, NIV)

A few years later, before heading for Jerusalem, Jesus laid it out again for them:

“We are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written by the prophets about the Son of Man will be fulfilled. He will be delivered over to the Gentiles. They will mock him, insult him and spit on him; they will flog him and kill him. On the third day he will rise again.” (Luke 18:31-33, NIV)

The Wonder of Peter

The women hurried to tell the disciples. But the men were clueless; they didn’t believe the women. Peter, always the impetuous one, hurried to see the tomb for himself. He left wondering (thinking hard about) what all this empty tomb stuff means.

So, why (since the disciples were told what was going to happen) were they left wondering what in the world the empty tomb was all about? 

Its meaning was hidden from them. They did not know what Jesus was really talking about. But this would all change. After appearing to them…

Jesus opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” (Luke 24:45-49, NIV)

Conclusion

Present-day Christians know of Christ’s redemptive events of cross, resurrection, ascension, and the giving of the Spirit at Pentecost. We do not need to wonder (be perplexed). We are clothed with power from on high to accomplish the mission of Christ on this earth.

We can now revel and rejoice in wonder and awe over the person and work of Jesus.  We possess forgiveness of sins, the Holy Spirit, and one another because of Christ’s mighty resurrection from death. 

Perhaps we need a newfound sense of wonder (awe) about Christ and his rising from death so that the resurrection of Jesus is not only a doctrine to believe, but a source of joy and wonder that impacts our daily lives.

Here are some ways we might cultivate a sense of wonder that will help us better connect with the risen Christ:

  • Watch kids play, learn, or do anything. Kids approach life with a sense of wonder. Everything is new, bright, and exciting – from being excited with a new toy to smiling at the simplest things – and even responding to Holy Scripture.
  • Read Scripture as if it were your first time. A great way to do this is to get together with someone or a group of people who aren’t familiar with the Bible. Spend some regular time reading through a book of God’s Word together, observing the wonder of the biblical characters.
  • Pay attention to God’s creation. All that we see is a window to the unseen. Whether taking a walk in nature, or traveling to other places, observe the changes of seasons and geography that elicits awe, reminding us of Christ’s resurrection.
  • Learn something new. Learn or rediscover a musical instrument. Research a topic you have always wanted to know something about. Take up a new hobby. Learn a new language. Doing anything new helps us to know new life in Christ better.

“Our Lord has written the promise of resurrection, not in books alone, but in every leaf in springtime.”

Martin Luther

All new life is wondrous and points to Easter, Resurrection Day. Whenever we lose our awe, we get stuck. Then, it’s hard to be excited about unseen spiritual realities. So, let us work at cultivating a sense of wonder so that the resurrection of Christ remains existentially fresh and alive.

Christ is risen!  Christ is risen, indeed!

1 Corinthians 15:20-34 – That’s Weird

“Nonsense” by Wanidaem, 2016

But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have died. For since death came through a human being, the resurrection of the dead has also come through a human being; for as all die in Adam, so all will be made alive in Christ. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father, after he has destroyed every ruler and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For “God has put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “All things are put in subjection,” it is plain that this does not include the one who put all things in subjection under him. When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to the one who put all things in subjection under him, so that God may be all in all.

Otherwise, what will those people do who receive baptism on behalf of the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized on their behalf?

And why are we putting ourselves in danger every hour? I die every day! That is as certain, brothers and sisters, as my boasting of you—a boast that I make in Christ Jesus our Lord. If with merely human hopes I fought with wild animals at Ephesus, what would I have gained by it? If the dead are not raised,

“Let us eat and drink,
    for tomorrow we die.”

Do not be deceived:

“Bad company ruins good morals.”

Come to a sober and right mind, and sin no more; for some people have no knowledge of God. I say this to your shame. (New Revised Standard Version)

There was a lot of goofiness going on with the Corinthian church.

That’s why the Apostle Paul’s first letter is long and filled with addressing a variety of problems. Some of those issues we can understand and relate to, and some we don’t have much of a clue what’s really going on. I tend to think that because the Corinthian believers tended to keep some bad company, a lot of weird stuff pops up, like vicarious baptisms for the dead. Where the heck did that come from?

“Weird Blue Painting” by Matthew Freese

Well, what we do know is that when Jesus told good old Peter the fisherman to leave his nets behind and become a fisher of people, catching them was only half the work. Cleaning them takes a lot of work, too.

I have done my share of fishing in life (both real fish and real people), and I can say that cleaning fish is a messy affair. Just as a fish gets gutted, so a person, caught for Jesus, needs to be eviscerated of all the worldly entrails of sin. And that didn’t completely happen with the Corinthians.

Rather than hanging out with the goofy weird dudes who are saying and doing only God knows what, Paul brought the Corinthians back to the center of the gospel. He reeled them into Christ’s resurrection.

The resurrection of Jesus Christ from death is the penultimate event of securing victory from sin’s guilt and shame, as well as death’s sting. It’s the resurrection which enables every Christian to realize the power of cutting out the weird and goofy stuff of worldly sin for the meat of Christ’s words and ways.

Because Christ arose with a real physical body, we, too, will experience a bodily resurrection. This means, as believers in Jesus, we are not to have a goofy approach that resurrection is all spiritual with nothing physical going on, as if the body were just some weird container for the soul that we have to put up with here on earth.

Whenever that weird thinking takes place, people do goofy things, believing they can do whatever the heck they want, since the body is like a paper plate that we’ll just toss in the garbage when we’re done with it. Christ’s kingdom ethics and physical morality ends up taking a back seat to ethereal philosophical musings. Leave it to the Greek Corinthians to do mental gymnastics in order to live however they want. Sometimes, when I read Paul’s letter, it feels like I’m watching an old “Leave It to Beaver” episode where Beaver is having all kinds of goofy thinking and doing weird stuff because of Whitey and Larry’s bad advice.

Jerry Mathers as the Beaver

Coming back again and again to the redemptive events of Jesus helps preserve us from the esoteric bunny trails of theological goofiness. Yet, if we continue to keep company with a bunch of folks who are into power and control through the ungodly means of mistreating the body (and other people), making comparisons between the physical and the spiritual, (as if they were two completing separate identities), obsessing over their weird and unintelligible philosophies, and refusing to take responsibility for their physical actions – then, we’re going to turn goofy, just like them.

Come to your senses, Paul would say, and get your head screwed on straight. Fill the space between your two ears with proper knowledge of Christ’s resurrection, and pay attention to your hands and feet, because they are the tangible means of putting the will of God into practice.

There’s a goofy and weird “ha, ha,” and then there’s a goofy and weird “uh, oh.” Keep the “ha, ha,” avoid the “uh, oh,” and you’ll be just fine.

Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy on us, your people, and grant us your wisdom and peace. Amen.