I. Video Then What
A. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living...1 Corinthians 15:3-6 (NIV)
B. Slide: So What?
A. So What? It's a fair question.
B. Answer it one way and you have Easter every day
C. Answer it another way, and it makes little difference.
D. Greatest threat to fully understanding what Easter is all about is not the Easter Bunny.
E. Greatest threat is religion.
1. Reading Easter story reminds us. (easy to miss)
2. It was the religious people that crucified Jesus
3. Men who believed in God spent a lot of time going to church, studying and obey the law, trying to be viewed as leaders
4. The one's who were supposed to recognize the Messiah, missed him, and then crucified them
5. Story surrounding Resurrection: Religion can be dangerous.
6. Cause you to miss God and his purpose for your life
7. Religion led them to oppose the God they claimed to worship.
8. Many of you, like me, resist being called religious.
9. Rather be called believer or follower of Christ
10. The more doctrinally correct from an intellectual standpoint religion is, the more dangerous it is.
III. Am I religious?
A. Ask: Am I kind of religious or kind of think like a religious person thinks even if I don't act like a religious person acts. You need to have a heads up, because religion incredible capacity to cause you to miss God. And what God has for you.
B. Religious thinking people boil the God and Jesus thing down to
1. A routine: the rules I keep
2. A script: the things I say: Ocassional prayers and prayers for each occasion
3. An event. Are you a Christian? I go or used to go to such and such church
C. Will consider themselves as being formerly religious because they don't go to church anymore.
1. I'm here under duress.
2. Don't want to come, but may want to reconnect with God at some point
3. Hesitate because you you think of the routine, script and event you were so inconsistent with
WARNING: You are thinking like a religious person
D. You say, Of course I'm going to be here Easter. It's the event. YOU ARE THINKING LIKE A RELIGIOUS PERSON
E. Or you say, I'm okay with God and believe in Jesus, but when people start talking about Jesus in a personal way outside of church, I cringe.
F. This is my annual visit to church because I used to do the whole thing but got burned. The church people weren't what they appeared.
IV. Religion can be a dangerous thing and can cause you to miss God and miss what he has for you.
A. Those who crucified Jesus were so caught up in the signs pointing to Jesus, missed Jesus
B. So caught in a system that was foreshadowing the Messiah, they missed him
C. Had an event like Easter
D. Jesus shows up on the way to event and was in the way of the event.
E. Whole story around the resurrection is religious people trying to get Jesus out of the way so they could have their event.
F. Religion is dangerous thing
V. John. Jesus was arrested and they took him to who was actually the former high priest but still held influence and the title.
VI. Meanwhile, the high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching. “I have spoken openly to the world,” Jesus replied. “I always taught in synagogues or at the temple, where all the Jews come together. I said nothing in secret. Why question me? Ask those who heard me. Surely they know what I said.” When Jesus said this, one of the officials nearby struck him in the face. “Is this the way you answer the high priest?” he demanded.John 18:19-22 (NIV)
A. Standing before God and saying how dare you talk to the religious man that way. Don't you know the system?
VII. Then the Jews led Jesus from Caiaphas to the palace of the Roman governor. By now it was early morning, and to avoid ceremonial uncleanness the Jews did not enter the palace; they wanted to be able to eat the Passover.John 18:28 (NIV)
A. Picture: Beginning of Passover week, a seven day festival and the Sabbath is coming up
B. Religious people know rules require them to be ceremonial clean
C. If they went in Pilate's home they would be unclean and couldn't participate in the Passover.
D. We have the Son of God bound, but we don't want to miss the Passover
E. Religious people trying to maintain religion: Can't come into your house, you come out.
VIII. So Pilate came out to them and asked, “What charges are you bringing against this man?” “If he were not a criminal,” they replied, “we would not have handed him over to you.” Pilate said, “Take him yourselves and judge him by your own law.” “But we have no right to execute anyone,” the Jews objected.John 18:29-31 (NIV)
A. Well you see, we want to kill him and our law won't allow that, but if we bring him to you and you (wink wink) kill him then we're still good to go.
B. Not atheist but religious people who couldn' t stand Jesus invading their formality and traditions
IX. Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head. They clothed him in a purple robe and went up to him again and again, saying, “Hail, king of the Jews!” And they struck him in the face. Once more Pilate came out and said to the Jews, “Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no basis for a charge against him.” When Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe, Pilate said to them, “Here is the man!” As soon as the chief priests and their officials saw him, they shouted, “Crucify! Crucify!” But Pilate answered, “You take him and crucify him. As for me, I find no basis for a charge against him.”John 19:1-6 (NIV)
A. Secular leader, Pilate: I don't see a problem. He's done nothing wrong.
B. Religious leaders say: Yes he has, and He must die.
C. RELIGION CAN BE A DANGEROUS THING AND CAUSE YOU TO MISS GOD AND WHAT HE WANTS TO DO IN YOUR LIVES.
D. Pilate kept trying to set Jesus free, but the religious people kept shouting: "Take him away! Take him away! Crucify him!
E. And they did nailing Him to a cross and hanging him between two criminals.
X. Now it was the day of Preparation, John 19:31a
A. Day before Sabbath and not just any Sabbath but Passover Sabbath
B. Last day to get ready for it. Hurry, Hurry, Hurry
1. Get kichen clean
2. Wash up
3. Feed cattle, clean the stall.
C. We've got to be ready to keep God's favor. We do the same with God. Church attendance is a good luck charm, a rabbit's foot. If I miss something bad will happen.
D. We've got to get ready. What a terrible time for Jesus to allow us to arrest him.
XI. and the next day was to be a special Sabbath. Because the Jews did not want the bodies left on the crosses during the Sabbath, they asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken down. The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Jesus, and then those of the other. But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. John 19:31-34 (NIV)
A. Can you imagine how this looked from heaven?
B. We can't have these bodies hanging on the cross, we've got to go to church.
C. Do us a favor and break their legs, so we can get these guys out of the way and get on with the program
D. Religion can be a dangerous thing. It can cause you to miss God. You've been there, done that and don't want to be religious again. You miss what God wants to do in your life in a personal way.
XII. At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid. Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation And since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.John 19:41-42 (NIV)
A. Time’s running out, we better get this guy burried quick.
B. Unbelivable? Those supposed to be closest to God missed him entirely.
C. Their problem is our problem. Don't know what to do with a living Savior. We are more comfortable with a God is distant or dead.
D. We can manage the routine, the script, the events
E. But a savior who is alive and personal and wants to get involved in your marriage, dating, finances, business, morality, ethics, it's easier to push him aside and be religious.
F. Religion inoculates us to the real thing. Pretty soon it looks enough like God, feels enough like God, and enough people are doing the same thing...
G. Our experience with religion keeps us from experiencing God.
XIII. Huge difference between religion and knowing Jesus Christ. Religion is cold and impersonal. Christ is real and relational. He's the author of life, not religion.
A. A personal relationship with Christ will mess up your religion.
B. It will change you, in a good way.
C. Pray like you are talking to somebody.
D. Read the bible because you want to.
E. Go to church because you love God.
F. Easter celebrate that we have lost all excuses for not having a personal relationship with God.
XIV. Easter: Celebrate that Jesus didn't stay in the tomb but rose from the dead
A. Angel moved the stone and he was resurrected.
B. Some ladies found out about it and told Peter and John
C. They run, John gets there first but doesn't go in, Peter get there and goes on in.
D. They see his grave clothes. The cloth around his face was folded up neatly.
E. Before long he starts appearing and word gets out. He is alive.
XV. My question: So What? Churches are filled all over the place this morning for "the event". But Jesus didn't rise from the dead so we could have an event to go to or a routine to follow, or a script to learn but so we could have a relationship with him that is real and personal.
XVI. And with him you were raised to new life because you trusted the mighty power of God, who raised Christ from the dead.Colossians 2:12b (NLT)
XVII. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives.Romans 6:4b (NLT)
XVIII. He rose so that we could share in that resurrection. The power that raised Jesus from the dead is the same power God want's to bring knew life to you.
A. Everybody has something at the center of your lives. Those who have the resurrected Lord at the core of their being.
B. Those who have religion have a revolving door at the core. They will put anything there to make life work or bearable.
C. Those who have a relationship with Christ identify themselves by who they are in Him.
D. Those who have religion identify themselves by what they do. Sooner or later, often in mid life, the emptiness surfaces. A mid life crisis set in. I’ve got to fill the void. I’ve got to numb the pain. They jump into wrong relationships, affairs, bad habits, develop dependencies.
E. And sooner or later, you may try the church, try religion. And if you get religion instead of a relationship with Jesus at church, you will learn how to compartmentalize the whole thing. It will be what you do on Sunday, but when the alarm goes off on Monday, it’s a clean break from Sunday. It has no real bearings on how you treat your wife or your kids or anybody else. Religion masks the sense of emptiness for a while, but it always comes back. The sense of purposelessness returns.
F. But a relationship with a resurrected Christ doesn’t allow you to compartmentalize. He walks into the rooms of your soul unannounced. He pilfers through the closets of your soul without your permission. He jumps right in the middle of your relationships, finances, business and if you let him will bring order out of chaos.
G. He will jump right in the middle of your problems and bring his grace to your pain.
H. He will step right in the middle of your inadequacies and give you purpose and power.
I. He will surface in the middle of your despair and give you hope.
J. Religion can do none of that. It’s Easter, So what? That’s what: A relationship with a living, real, personal Lord.