The Easter Story: What It Is Not
2 Peter 1:16-1:21
16For we were not making up clever stories when we told you about the power of our Lord Jesus Christ and his coming again. We have seen his majestic splendor with our own eyes. 17And he received honor and glory from God the Father when God’s glorious, majestic voice called down from heaven, "This is my beloved Son; I am fully pleased with him." 18We ourselves heard the voice when we were there with him on the holy mountain.
19Because of that, we have even greater confidence in the message proclaimed by the prophets. Pay close attention to what they wrote, for their words are like a light shining in a dark place--until the day Christ appears and his brilliant light shines in your hearts. 20Above all, you must understand that no prophecy in Scripture ever came from the prophets themselves 21or because they wanted to prophesy. It was the Holy Spirit who moved the prophets to speak from God. 2 Peter 1:16-21 (NLT)
1. It is not about bunnies. (v.16)
-“For we were not making up clever stories when we told you about the power of our Lord Jesus Christ and his coming again”
Illus: How do I know the war in Iraq is real? Could it be made up? No, because the eyewitness account is too compelling. Real people, real blood and guts, real names, real bombs, real soldiers, with real weapons, real death…
Went to Universal Studios – props – all make-belief –readily admit that it is staged, larger than life. Façade were made by people that look like the real thing.
You want made up stories I can pt. You to a master – remember this guy in the past few weeks?
Iraqi Information Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf.
MSNBC writer called him “He’s the mother of all press secretaries.”
From “Today, the tide has turned, we are destroying them” to “Be assured Baghdad is safe, secure and great. There is no presence of American infidels in the city of Baghdad, at all,”
— “They are sick in their minds. They say they brought 65 tanks into center of city. I say to you this talk is not true. This is part of their sick mind.”
And he’s not afraid to bring God’s character to testify — “Their forces committed suicide by the hundreds. ... The battle is very fierce and God made us victorious.”
“They are superpower of villains. They are superpower of Al Capone” Another doozy - ‘They are beginning to commit suicide at the walls of Baghdad and I encourage them to increase the rate of suicide. Their columns are being killed in the hundreds at the walls of Baghdad. We have fed them hell and death.’
Then we see Saddam’s statue being hauled down – lies that were to the Iraqis were made apparent.
Cleverly made up story - easter bunny from legends of fertility cults – no one really knows the pre-Christian pagan roots of the Easter tradition. Scholars seem to agree came from the worship of spring dedicated to goddess “Eastre”
2. It is not from Jesus’ imagination. (v.16b-18)
CS Lewis, noted scholar and professor of Medieval and Renaissance literature at Cambridge University once commented on the idea that the Gospel which tells the easter story as myth: “If he (the biblical critic) tells me something in a Gospel is legend or romance, I want to know how many legends and romances he has read, how well his palate is trained in detecting them…I have been reading poems, romances, vision-literature, legends, myths all my life. I know what they are like. I know not one of them is like this.”
My family and I were in Disney’s Fantasyland – the land of Snow white, Pinocchio, Cinderella, Peter Pan – we know it’s fantasy, because no one in history is anywhere close to those characters. They don’t even lived in real places. Their stories begin “once upon a time” or like fiction of Star wars “long, long ago in a far, far away galaxy”
But the Easter story it’s totally different. Because it is based on concrete events of history in real places, with real people with names and dates involved, and real eye-witnesses and real executions performed by the Romans. We know Lord of the Rings is fantasy because there is no evidence for the existence of beings called elves, and hobbits and ring wraiths. There is no such thing as that One ring that rules them all, or a world called “Middle Earth” but the Easter Second-century Roman historian Tacitus confirms that Christianity was founded by a man named Christus, whom he says was "put to death as a criminal by Pontius Pilate, procurator of Judea, in the reign of Tiberius." You don’t use real names of real people, executions of people and real governments to describe a fantasy, a myth. Easter story is rooted in the real world of real people, real places, real conflicts,
Don’t think Jesus imagine real nails driven thru His flesh. Did he dream up opposition? If it was all in his imagination wouldn’t he dream up a better story than the bloody mess he found himself in, tortured, unimaginable pain, hanging on the cross. Robert Capon in "Hunting the Divine Fox" maintains that the typical American paradigm of the Messiah is not Jesus, but Superman. We don’t want a saviour who does a stupid thing like dying a messy death with his followers and friends deserting him and then a real doozy - rising from the dead. We want one who never dies. Want one who could take own bullets and feel no pain.
That’s what Palm Sunday reminds us of – our expectations – Hosanna – save us – help us avoid pain – but we find at the end of the week on Friday – a suffering Messiah who died and offered life on the other side of pain, on the other side of a mortal existence into immortality, eternal life!
We have seen his majestic splendor with our own eyes. 17And he received honor and glory from God the Father when God’s glorious, majestic voice called down from heaven, "This is my beloved Son; I am fully pleased with him." 18We ourselves heard the voice when we were there with him on the holy mountain.
Jesus did not dream this up. No conspiracy here. They saw the splendor and they heard a majestic distinct voice from heaven. Countless witness attest to it. Not just one misinformed Minister of Information who said When news broke that U.S. troops had taken the Ministry of Information, al-Sahhaf said, “Absolutely that’s not true. I can tell you that because I am here at the Ministry of Information.” Can anyone here say that the Easter story is a bold-faced lie?
3. It is not an accident. (v.19)
Not random, illogical, or chance or coincidence “…message was proclaimed by the prophets”. Confirmed in long history OT. Read Ephesians 1. •
4Long before he laid down earth’s foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. 5Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) 6He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving by the hand of his beloved Son... 8He thought of everything, provided for everything we could possibly need, 9letting us in on the plans he took such delight in making. He set it all out before us in Christ, 10a long-range plan...
•“If you want to know why you were placed on this planet, you must begin with God. You were born by his purpose and for his purpose.” – Rick Warren
Like the Grand Canyon evidence is seen in the deep canyons cut by the river that runs through it.
4. It is not humanly possible (v.20-21)
•The consistent witness of the prophets
•Who can raised a dead person?
•Statistically impossible that any of the Bible’s specific prophecies could have been fulfilled by chance or good guessing or deliberate deceit
5. It is not a waste of time
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God did not send his Son into the world to condemn it, but to save it.” John 3:16-17
1. Great love – like fathers who love who plan for their kids future. Love for us? Imagine that? Relationship? He thinks we are worth his long range planning? Worth dying for?
2. Great forgiveness -
3. Greatest message on planet earth Challenges us to recognize the trouble God went through to redeem us
Sample the Seven Last Words of Jesus as recorded in the Gospel tradition.
Father, forgive them . . . (Luke 23:34)
This day you will be with me in paradise (Luke 23:43)
It is finished! (John 19:30)
On Palm Sunday, Jesus emerged on the public scene - an overnight sensation. As one preacher described it:He would try to go off to be alone and the people would still follow him. The masses lined the streets as he came into town. On Palm Sunday leafy palm branches were spread before him and there were shouts of Hosanna. In shouting Hosanna they were in effect saying “Save us now” Jesus. Great crowds came to hear him preach. A wave of religious expectation swept the country.
But the cheering did not last for long. There came a point when the tide began to turn against him. Oh, you didn’t notice it so much at first. People still came to see him, but the old excitement was missing, and the crowds were not as large as they had been. His critics now began to publicly attack him. That was something new. Earlier they had been afraid to speak out for fear of the masses, but they began to perceive that the fickle public was turning on him. Soon the opposition began to snowball. When they discovered that they could not discredit his moral character, they began to take more desperate measures. Before it was all over a tidal wave welled up that brought Jesus to his knees under the weight of a cross.
Why did the masses so radically turn against him? How did the shouts of Hosanna on Sunday transform into the shouts of crucify him on Friday?
1. Jesus Began to talk more and more about commitment. How about you?
2. Jesus dared to suggest that all people are worth loving.Do you know this personally?
3. Jesus began to talk more and more about a cross.
Do you believe there is a price paid for your sin?