“You need to ask yourself, “Am I willing to go on celebrating Easter if I’m not living what the true meaning of Easter is?” Ike Butterworth said during his powerful Easter Sunday sermon today, Sunday, March 31 at First Presbyterian Church of Wichita Falls, Texas.
Dr. Butterworth shared the story of Mary and Mary Magdalene and the Apostle Peter who went to Jesus Christ’s tomb on the first Easter following the crucifixion expecting to find his body there. The congregation at First Presbyterian Church sat riveted to their seats intently listening to the moving account the Bible tells of that day over 2,000 years ago..
“The women were bringing spices to embalm the dead body of Jesus, but were surprised to find the tomb empty,” Butterworth further said. The dead body of their Lord was supposed to be in that tomb. They feared His body had been stolen and hidden away.
Instead of seeing the corpse of Jesus they saw two angels that gleamed like lightning who asked them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead?” The presence of these two angels had such a profound effect on the women that they fell on the ground face down.
There was no corpse in the tomb. Jesus had risen from the dead as He had told them He would. They just could not grasp the fact that it was actually true.
Butterworth applied the dramatic story to people’s everyday lives in the modern world, saying, “Sometimes when heaven invades our world we don’t know what to make of it.”
The senior pastor emphasized that the seven key words to this situation are when the angels said, “He is not here. He is risen.”
Butterworth said the story is about us in that it should give us a different orientation in our lives after we know why that tomb was empty. He emphasized that we will never find true happiness from the things of this world no matter how hard we seek it. There are never enough possessions to make us happy. The new soon wears off and we want the next new thing or experience the world has to offer. But this kind of happiness never lasts. True happiness comes from the relationship we have with God and living the life He has secured for us with the ultimate sacrifice Jesus made giving His life and sealed with His resurrection. Sealed with that empty tomb.
Once we realize the true meaning of what happened that day when the body of Jesus was gone from the tomb and begin to live the life offered to us by that sacrifice we have a new true happiness. The thoughts occupying our minds should not be the same as before. We will love Jesus more than ourselves or the temporary things of this world. We will realize a new happiness we never found in the things of this world. God becomes the center of our life when we abandon a bland existence without Christ.
The essence of the passage in Luke 24 is that the direction of our lives should be changed.
Butterworth urged the overflow crowd to “look at the direction of your life. Am I willing to go on celebrating Easter if I’m not living it?” Can we live that life without true change in our lives?
He further said, “There is no corpse here. There is no point in playing around empty tombs because Jesus won’t be there. He is risen. This is your life. Why settle for anything less?” Why settle for temporary happiness when you can have eternal happiness?
Butterworth began his sermon mentioning the popular television show entitled “This Is Your Life.” Famous people on the television show of the 1950’s were surprised when they were brought to the stage. Viewers were drawn to the program because they heard stories of the different setbacks and triumphs of that person’s life as related by friends, relatives and acquaintances over a lifetime. The audience could relate to that. They could see how different decisions changed that person’s life and the direction they took over the years.
Butterworth said, “But the Bible has something even better to offer than that show. The Bible offers Jesus Christ who can change our lives. We are not to try to see how the Bible applies to our lives, but to see how we fit into the Bible’s plan fror our lives.”
Only Jesus offers us eternal life in Heaven. What is so hard for us is to realize the true meaning of the empty tomb and take that reality and change the way we live and think every day. Not just when we celebrate Easter. Too great a sacrifice was made by Jesus that day and too great the opportunity for us to be forgiven and changed into the person God wants us to be. Yes we should celebrate Easter. Not just on Easter Sunday but every day of our lives. We should want to strive to be that changed person every day. Like Mary and Mary Magdalene and Peter we need to know why the tomb was empty.
Anyone who has questions regarding this message should contact Dr. Isaac Butterworth at email@example.com.
Services are at 11 a.m. each Sunday across the street from Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls, Texas.
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