Apr 11, 2020
Rev Peter Taubner explores the Easter Story as History, Mystery and Victory.
This Sermon was recorded for Easter Sunday online worship during the lock down due to the COVID19 virus Pandemic in Ipswich Australia.
For a video version of this sermon go HERE.
Full text of Sermon
Message – Uniting Churches of Ipswich
Easter Day Service – April 12th
Rev Peter Taubner
Good morning. Welcome, as you have heard, to this Uniting Churches of Ipswich presentation of an Easter Day Service. I’m a little disappointed. Not that it’s Easter Day – I’m elated. But I know where I might have been, a couple of days ago, and earlier this morning. Those people listening and watching this morning, who are connected with the Rosewood congregations that I also serve, may have an inkling of what we have all missed out on this morning.
But, that’s not to take away from what others in the room with me, may have shared in their own buildings, and particularly in this majestic place.
I want to to you about HISTORY, MYSTERY + VICTORY, and as we heard from Matthew 28: 1 – 10, read to us by Andrew - that first morning, that Easter dawning, was a very special time.
On Palm Sunday, Jesus entered Jerusalem on a green carpet.
On Good Friday that carpet turns to red with his shed blood, and then
On Easter Day, it’s like there is a new beginning and new growth and hope begins.
I’ve brought along a special cross which I often use in the
congregations I share with, and I will place on the altar today. It
was designed by a Christian woodworker on the Sunshine Coast. He
calls it ‘Comfort and Joy’. Let me explain to you it’s purpose -
Palm Sunday – arms outstretched, head raised up – joyful and celebrating.
Good Friday – arms ready to encircle us, head lowered – sad but comforting + loving.
Easter Day – turned around again – celebrations of wonder, joy and hope.
Like me, perhaps you have missed watching some sport of late, due to the shut-down of many events related to the Corona Virus. Let me refresh your memories of one of the most ironic of all sporting commentator’s ‘catchphrases’ because it is also a catch-cry for the whole of the Easter story, which is interwoven and joined together to make it a stronger story and a more powerful story. Perhaps the most powerful story ever told.
The catchphrase comes to the fore when Jesus ‘snatches victory from the jaws of defeat’. In one sense, the resurrection of Jesus Christ is a fact to be accepted by faith. To say that a person died and was buried is simply to acknowledge the experience of most of humanity. But to say that one who died rose bodily from the grave, is to announce a miracle demanding faith.
The resurrection of Jesus Christ is therefore history, for it
happened; it is a mystery, for it cannot be fully explained; and it
was a victory, for He conquered sin +
THE RESURRECTION IS HISTORY - No one really doubts the fact of Christ’s death. Since the time of Adam, death has been an appointment for all people except two Old Testament characters, Enoch and Elijah. Jesus also had an appointment with death, and He kept it.
Only a week before, he had entered Jerusalem riding a donkey,
and even though the crowds welcomed him with praise and
celebration, he knew that he was riding to his death. Then came
that day when the sun hid its face at noon, the earth shook, and
the veil of the Temple was torn in two. Everyone who witnessed the
crucifixion said, “He is dead!”
How do we know He was dead? Well, in John’s Gospel 19:33-36 we are told that the soldiers came to Jesus to break his legs so he would die before the end of the day, but He was already dead when they came to him.
The resurrection of Christ is as factual as His death. Those who question it do so in the face of irrefutable evidence. Evidence exists of the empty tomb; the repeated appearances to as few as one and as many as more than five hundred; and the dramatic change that took place in His disciples.
The authorities of the first century could not refute the historicity of the resurrection by disproving the claims of the apostles, and neither could the skeptics of any century since then.
In the early part of the 20th century, a group of lawyers met in England to discuss the biblical accounts of Jesus’ resurrection. They wanted to see if sufficient information was available to make a case that would hold up in an English court of law. When their study was completed, they published the results of their investigation. They concluded that Christ’s resurrection was one of the most well-established facts of history!
And, of course, if we look at the list of central figures from all the major world religions, we find these truths:
Confucius’ tomb - occupied; Buddha’s tomb - occupied; Mohammed’s tomb - occupied; Jesus’ tomb - empty! The resurrection of Jesus Christ is a reality.
THE RESURRECTION IS A MYSTERY. The disciples couldn’t understand the resurrection. They heard Jesus foretell of it but when it actually took place they were bewildered.
The resurrection of Christ is still a mystery. We have the
Bible, which reports the event, but we are unable to fully
understand it. The return of life to that broken and brutalized
body is a mystery. The manner of His exit from the tomb is also a
mystery. It is most likely that the stone was rolled away from the
entrance of the tomb so that people could see that it was empty,
not to actually let Jesus out.
The Lord rose bodily from the sealed tomb, but who can explain that? Furthermore, the nature of His post-resurrection body is also a mystery. The Lord’s body was physical, for people could both see and touch it; yet the Lord was not limited by physical barriers. Who can explain that?
The mystery of the resurrection must be accepted by faith. To do so is not unreasonable, for God has given evidence that Jesus did rise from the grave. Since the fact of His resurrection is firmly established, people of faith can accept the seemingly inexplicable aspects of the event.
THE RESURRECTION IS A VICTORY. The resurrection meant
victory for Christ. Jesus died as a criminal. He was arrested,
tried, and executed as a criminal. The fact that He was innocent
doesn’t alter these facts. Thus, His resurrection was an event of
personal vindication. It proves that the Lord is who He said He
But more than that, by His resurrection the Lord became a conqueror. He became the sort of Messiah and Saviour figure that he was expected to become. In the resurrection He became the victor over sin and death.
The resurrection of Christ also means victory for Christians.
One day all the believers will also die. What then? Because of
Christ’s resurrection, death is no longer an enemy which ultimately
wins, and the grave is no longer humanity’s final destination.
Because of the resurrection of Christ, we also have hope in death
and victory over the
Apart from the Resurrection of Jesus, and Lazarus who Jesus also raised, no one has ever returned from death to tell us what’s on the other side. After His crucifixion, eleven terrified men sat in a locked room afraid they too would be killed. From their perspective, when Jesus died so did their dreams for the future. The hope of His Resurrection wasn’t something they seemed to take very seriously. Yet in a short time, their lives would be transformed as Mary Magdalene and some other women came running with the startling news that the Lord’s tomb was empty.
The Resurrection is -
A piece of history – in fact, all of it is a part of HIS-story, and the Resurrection was perhaps the most pivotal moment in all of history.
A thing of mystery – we can only understand the events of the Resurrection through faith, but that is enough.
A sign of victory – one that allows us hope for the future, and an acknowledgement of our salvation for eternity.
So again, let us share the Easter response – Hallelujah. Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed!
No – I don’t think I could hear all of you. Hallelujah. Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed!
I’m going to join this time. Yes, that was a little better – lets’ give it one more go - Hallelujah. Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Amen.