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Slate magazine re-published an article from two years. The author, James Martin, was explaining why Easter has not succumbed to commercialization like Christmas and why, despite bunnies and chocolate eggs, it maintains its religious significance.

The Easter story is relentlessly disconcerting and, in a way, is the antithesis of the Christmas story. No matter how much you try to water down its particulars, Easter retains some of the shock it had for those who first participated in the events during the first century. The man who spent the final three years of his life preaching a message of love and forgiveness (and, along the way, healing the sick and raising the dead) is betrayed by one of his closest friends, turned over to the representatives of a brutal occupying power, and is tortured, mocked, and executed in the manner that Rome reserved for the worst of its criminals.

Martin continues by examining the meaning of the resurrection ...
More shocking than the crucifixion is the resurrection. ... Even the resurrection, the joyful end of the Easter story, resists domestication as it resists banalization. Unlike Christmas, it also resists a noncommittal response. Even agnostics and atheists who don't accept Christ's divinity can accept the general outlines of the Christmas story with little danger to their worldview. But Easter demands a response. It's hard for a non-Christian believer to say, "Yes, I believe that Jesus of Nazareth was crucified, died, was buried, and rose from the dead." That's not something you can believe without some serious ramifications: If you believe that Jesus rose from the dead, this has profound implications for your spiritual and religious life—really, for your whole life. If you believe the story, then you believe that Jesus is God, or at least God's son. What he says about the world and the way we live in that world then has a real claim on you.
Easter (The cross and the resurrection) is an event that demands a "yes" or a "no." There is no "whatever."

We believe that Jesus was crucified once and for all.
We believe that his body was placed in the tomb.
We believe that God raised him from the dead and now he lives and rules.

But do we live in a “whatever” sort of way with that belief? Believing these things is not simply a matter of checking a true or false on an exam. If you believe this, you acknowledge a reality that changes everything. You must live it out, or reject it outright.

Read Hebrews 10

Four Ways the Cross/Resurrection Change Us and Certainly Cannot Be a “Whatever” Event

  1. The Sacrifice of Jesus is “Once and For All” – 10And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
    1. Sometimes we leave Jesus on the cross. Perhaps we want him to remain there so that he can take the punishment and we don’t have to. Maybe Jesus’ willingness to take our place allows us to get on with our own life.
    2. Once – Not again. The violence in our world is revealed. God has lifted the façade off of our twisted notions of civilization. There is no need to continually crucify Jesus
    3. For All – Too often we concern ourselves with who isn’t saved. We get caught up trying to find the limits. Let’s just leave it at “For All.” Keep yourself pure, God will purify the church.

  2. Gratitude, not Guilt is the Proper Response – 22let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.
    1. The Risen Jesus has no need for us to be consumed with guilt. He died once for all so that we might be reconciled to God.
    2. Guilt is the proper response to our sins. Gratitude is the proper response to God’s Grace
    3. Too often we use guilt to control others or to excuse ourselves from right living. Don’t squander the blood of Christ on selfishness or self-doubt.

  3. Hold on to Hope, Let Go of Sin - 23Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.
    1. The cross and the resurrection work together to expose the violence in the world and replace it with hope and love
    2. Hope is Trust in God's justice – We have better and more lasting possessions than anything this world offers. We should not have a “whatever” attitude about this.
    3. Because Jesus died once for all we do not have to be angry anymore. We can live in love.
      1. Some of you have had some truly wicked things done to you. Real injustices not of your doing. Jesus is your friend. Look to him. He shares in your suffering. Lean on him and trust in God.
      2. But sometimes God’s people are the angriest people in the room. We are angry about our government We are angry about our work We are angry with school
      3. What right do you have to be so angry -- did you go through what Jesus did?
      4. We get angry with one another. We are angry because the church is changing too fast. We are angry because it isn't changing fast enough. We’re angry over worship styles. And if we don't say angry we will say concerned.
      5. Look to Jesus. Look to the cross and try to hold on to your anger. Try to justify it. He chose love and God raised him from he dead. Thank God he loves and forgives.
    4. How can we not love others. How can we not forgive. Easter would be a good time for some of you to forgive someone. Forgive means let it go. Not to treat it lightly but to release it. Jesus trusted his life to god and god did right by him

  4. We Look Forward to His return – 35So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. 36You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. 37For in just a very little while,
    "He who is coming will come and will not delay.
    1. We move forward
    2. We encourage one another until the Day comes
    3. We know that he is risen and alive

Jesus died once so that you don’t have to be angry anymore.
Jesus died once so that you can be free to love.
Jesus died once so that you can live forever.
Jesus died once so that you can live a life of freedom.

Chris Benjamin

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Morning Sermon, 4 April 2010

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