The Easter Difference

Text: Colossians 3:1-4

Grace, mercy, and peace to each of you from our risen Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen

I read an article the other day, it was an interview with a former bishop in the Church of England actually who has written a book called, “The Day the Revolution Began.” I haven’t read the book, I only just heard about for the first time just a day or two ago, but the title of the book intrigues me. “The Day the Revolution Began.” I find that title intriguing because the author isn’t talking about what we normally think of as revolutions (The French Revolution, American Revolution, Industrial Revolution). Instead, he argues that Easter, the death and resurrection of Jesus, was a revolution, a decisive turning point in history. In short, the book argues that Jesus rising from the dead changes everything.

That’s a nice thought, that Jesus rising from the dead changes everything, but is it true? Does Jesus rising from the dead really make a difference? You might be thinking to yourself, “Of course it makes a difference, why else would I be here!” or you might be thinking to yourself, “I’m not sure that Jesus rising from the dead actually makes a difference at all, to be honest.”

If you fall into that latter line of thinking, if you are not sure sometimes (or all the time, for that matter) whether or not Jesus rising from the dead actually makes a difference in your life I don’t blame you. I don’t blame you because it doesn’t always look like Jesus rising from the dead makes much a difference in my life either. Contrary to what some people might tell you, Jesus rising from the dead and you believing in Jesus does not mean that there are no more bad days. It does not mean that you will always feel happy and never struggle with anything in life because you believe in Jesus and He is risen from the dead. It does not mean that no bad things will happen to you or to people you care about. For this reason, it is not outside the realm of possibility and it should not be unexpected for every Christian to ask themselves from time to time, “Does Jesus rising from the dead actually make a difference?” Because it sure doesn’t feel like it sometimes.

Maybe it doesn’t feel like it, but Jesus rising from the dead does make a difference. In our epistle reading today from Colossians 3 Paul says this about Jesus being raised from the dead and what it means for you: “If you then have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set you minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” Yes, Paul is saying, Jesus rising from the dead makes a difference.

Jesus rising from the dead makes a difference because you have risen with Jesus. Our epistle reading starts off with Paul saying “If then you have been raised with Christ…” “If you have been raised.” The implication is that you have been raised with Christ. You have been raised from the dead already with Christ to be a new person; a person set free from sin and death; a person who has been perfectly and totally forgiven; a person who lives a life filled with the love of Jesus. Anyone who believes and is baptised has died with Jesus and has also risen with Jesus. You have died with Jesus and you have risen with Him. That makes a difference.

Jesus rising from the dead makes a difference because it changes our perspective on life in this world. Jesus rising from the dead reorients the way we think about life in this world. Dead people don’t rise, that is not how the world works, but Jesus is risen. Jesus rising from the dead opens our eyes to a new reality that we could not have seen otherwise.

In our gospel reading we see the difference that Jesus rising from the dead makes in the lives of people like us who believe in Him. The women go out to the tomb early in the morning to finish the job of burying Jesus. You can imagine that there is a degree of grief and sorrow in their hearts as they make their way out to the tomb. But before they can get there the earth under their feet starts to shake and an angel of the Lord appears and rolls away the stone from the tomb. The guards posted to keep an eye on that tomb fall, brave men who should stand strong in the face of danger, down like dead men they are so afraid. If the soldier are falling down with fear the women were likely scared too. The angel says to them, “Do not be afraid, He has risen.” The women rush away from the tomb still afraid, Matthew tells us, but also filled with great joy. Jesus being alive makes a difference for these women. Their fear remains to a degree, but with that fear is great joy. Their joy comes from knowing that their Saviour, the one on whom they had pinned their hopes for salvation, is not dead. He is alive and He brings joy. Jesus rising from the dead makes a difference.

What difference does Jesus rising from the dead make for you?

Before we stumble around trying to make up an answer to that question for ourselves, Paul provides us with the answer in our epistle reading. “If you have been raised with Jesus (which as we talked about already, we have) then set your mind on the things that are above.” Jesus rising from the dead sets our mind on things that are above and changes how we see our lives day by day in this world. We still live in the world, but our lives are oriented around the central, joyous fact that Jesus is risen from the dead. That makes a difference.

When we struggle in life, when we suffer, when we get sick, when every thing seems to be going wrong, when life goes off the rails and nothing makes sense anymore Jesus risen from the dead makes a difference. We see in Jesus risen from the dead that this life and the stuff that burdens us here and weighs us down is not worth comparing to the future glory that has been prepared for us in Christ (Romans 8:18). On Easter we see the glory of Jesus, a glory that will be ours on the day when He raises our bodies too. We also see here that because Jesus is risen from the dead we have no reason to doubt God’s love for us. Trials and tribulations will not take away the love that Jesus poured out on the cross or that shines forth from the empty tomb.

When we grieve Jesus risen from the dead makes a difference. As Christians we do not grieve like other people. We still grieve but we grieve with hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13-14). Like the women running from the tomb our grief is paired with great joy. Our hope and joy in the midst of grief comes from knowing that we will be reunited with those we loved in this life in the life yet to come.

When we mess up and fall short of God’s glory, when we sin, Jesus risen from the dead make all the difference. Jesus paid the price for our sin on the cross and His resurrection is like the receipt that confirms that full payment has been made. To show us that our sin is taken away God the Father raised Jesus from the dead. He lives and we know we are forgiven.

As we live our lives in this world Jesus risen from the dead makes a difference. He has already raised us to new life and has set our minds on things above. He sets our minds on things like compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, patience, bearing with each other in love, and forgiving one another (Colossians 3:12-13). Jesus risen from the dead changes how we see each other and lifts our heads up above the anger, hatred, and violence of this world to see the new reality that is ours because our Saviour lives.

When we die Jesus risen from the dead makes a difference. We likely still fear death. I think that anyone who says that they don’t fear death at all is lying at least a little bit. But our fear is combined with joy, just like the women at the tomb. Our fear is combined with joy because we know that Jesus will come again and give life to our dead bodies. When Jesus comes again our bodies will probably be lying dead in the ground and may have been there for a long time. But on that day Jesus will call out our names and our bones will get up from the ground and Jesus will breathe the breath of life into our dead bodies and we will live. This knowledge, this good news changes everything.

Jesus rising from the dead changes everything. It changes everything for you right now and forever. It may not seem like much has changed, it may not feel like it, but it has. You have risen from the dead with Jesus and you have changed. In Jesus name. Amen.

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