Maybe the whirlwind of everything we have been dealing with surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic prevented it from fully hitting home with me. In the last couple of days, it hit home. Our church and almost all churches will not be meeting on Easter Sunday 2020. Yes, we will be having online worship and using technology to connect. Thank the Lord for that ability! It’s been good to worship together as families in our living rooms and connect with our Sunday School classes over ZOOM. However, as good as these are, they have served to reinforce to us all over again the beauty of actually gathering with the people of God on the Lord’s Day. This week, my heart has ached in a fresh way to gather with the people of on the Lord’s Day. How I long for the day when we can gather again.
It’s Easter Sunday, and we are not meeting at Lakeside. At almost all churches, there is no Easter Sunday service to attend. Many families have great traditions surrounding the Easter Sunday service. Many families attend the Easter service together at the same church each year. They make family pictures after the service and they gather with family and friends for a meal and fun. Easter traditions abound for families. For a pastor, there is no Sunday like Easter Sunday. Yes, the increased attendance is always nice, but most pastors love Easter Sunday for other reasons. It’s the one Sunday of the year when the entire focus of attention is on the resurrection of Christ. The choir seems to sound even better on Easter Sunday. The people are joyous. There are more people in the service who are new than any other service of the year. The pastor studies longer, prays more in preparation. Easter Sunday is special. For the first time in my life, I will not be gathering on Easter Sunday with my church family. For many reading this blog, this will be the first Easter Sunday of your life when you will not gather with your church family.
However, an Easter without a service is NOT an Easter without a Savior.
Yesterday afternoon, my mind went to “the resurrection chapter”: 1 Corinthians 15. This great chapter defines the gospel, shows the necessity of believing in Christ’s resurrection, and explains what His resurrection means to us.
“Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,” (1 Corinthians 15:1–4, NASB95)
There it is, the gospel defined in all of its simplicity and beauty. Did you see what is at the heart of the gospel? The resurrection of Jesus Christ.
“Now if Christ is preached, that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain. Moreover we are even found to be false witnesses of God, because we testified against God that He raised Christ, whom He did not raise, if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.” (1 Corinthians 15:12–18, NASB95)
The resurrection of Jesus Christ is a linchpin of the Christian faith. No resurrection = no salvation.
If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied.” (1 Corinthians 15:19, NASB95)
Without the hope of the resurrection, we have no hope to find in this life.
“But now Christ has been raised from the dead…” (1 Corinthians 15:20, NASB95)
Verse 20 is a transition statement. In the preceding verses, the Apostle Paul dealt with the hypothetical….”if Christ has not been raised.” Now, in verse 20, he turns to the FACTUAL. The resurrection HAS happened. Now Paul moves to bring to light the powerful truth of the salvation brought by our risen Savior. Let the beauty of scripture speak us powerfully in these words….
“But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ’s at His coming, then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be abolished is death. For HE HAS PUT ALL THINGS IN SUBJECTION UNDER HIS FEET. But when He says, “All things are put in subjection,” it is evident that He is excepted who put all things in subjection to Him. When all things are subjected to Him, then the Son Himself also will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him, so that God may be all in all.” (1 Corinthians 15:20–28, NASB95)
What incredible truth!!! The resurrection of Christ HAPPENED. We have a risen SAVIOR. Absolutely NOTHING can take that reality away. No pandemic. No job situation. No sickness. No family pain. No depression. No set backs. No persecution. NOTHING.
Today, we are not having an Easter with a service like we are accustomed.
We will NEVER have an Easter without a Savior.
Think about it. Drink that truth deep into your soul today. Look up. Worship.