'Easter and messages of hope to share' by Mal Calladine - April 21st 2019
Knowing and understanding the Easter story can give us hope and new life. In this Easter Sunday talk, Mal Calladine looks at what this can mean for us, and what can happen when we share its life changing promise with others.
We're going to ask what the Easter story says, what it means, and what we are going to do about it.
At Passover, people follow traditions with their families, including eating flat bread which has prophetic, symbolic meaning as it is pierced and broken. Jesus shared this bread with his followers and called it his body, broken for them.
Mal described the ways in which he shared this tradition with his family in person and over Facetime, using bitter coffee to symbolise death and sweet sugar mixed with egg white to symbolise new life.
7:30 Remembering and encountering God
Mal's daughter in Australia has strong memories of this experience linked to the Easter story. Encountering the distinctive taste over decades of repeating the story of Jesus at Easter has made the taste and the story unforgettable.
Mal also described the experience of teenagers in his former church in Sheffield having an encounter with God but having life experience which only made sense of people saying the word "Jesus" as swearing. They had no knowledge of the story we are celebrating today, so no way to understand what was happening as people around them called out to Jesus in prayer. But when we know and understand the Easter story, it can change our lives.
10:30 What is the Easter story?
On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ” Then they remembered his words.
When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles. But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense. Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened.
Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him.
He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?”
They stood still, their faces downcast. One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?”
“What things?” he asked.
“About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they did not see Jesus.”
He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.
As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going farther. But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them.
When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. (Luke 24:1-31, NIV)
Notice the moment when Jesus' followers recognised him, when they broke bread in a similar way to what they had done at Passover. Jesus had told them to remember him as they shared bread as if it were his body broken for them, and in this moment of sharing bread, they realised afresh who Jesus was, and that he was living, not dead.
15:10 What does the Easter story mean?
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16, NIV)
Gospel writer John declares Jesus to be life and the light of the world.
17:20 What does this message mean for us?
What is the message of hope and healing for each of us? A prayer said together at Passover declares to God that he has redeemed, freed, fed, delivered, saved and spared his people, and therefore we would praise and glorify God using the bodies he gave us.
And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. (Romans 5:2b-4, NIV)
Following Jesus can lead to good character, but this isn't the goal - it's hope.
20:20 Message of hope 1: Grace
It's God who does this, not us. Grace was described as "a thought that can changed the world" after they read this book by Philip Yancey.
Because of the events of Easter, we are defined the cross of Jesus and an empty tomb, that we can experience his life. This is nothing that we do.
If we are only defined by things we have done in our own lives, shame can end up being dominant in that definition. But Christians can boldly declare that "there is no shame" because of being redefined by God's grace. While we were still far off, God moved.
23:20 Message of hope 2: Being thankful
In a culture where it is common to complain about bad things going on, people notice when we are thankful, and we can become more thankful when we focus on what God is doing.
If we see nothing else good at the moment, we can still be thankful for the cross and the empty tomb.
When we speak out thankfulness for this, or any other thing, we can quickly start to see other things to be thankful for too.
25:00 Message of hope 3: Good news is generous
The most generous people we know are like good news to us - they go together. God's good news for us and generosity to us are invitations to share, live generously and be good news for others too. This is the life God wants for us.
One person gives freely, yet gains even more;
another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty.
A generous person will prosper;
whoever refreshes others will be refreshed. (Proverbs 11:24-25, NIV)
26:10 Message of hope 4: Hope and sacrifice can be good news
Our response to good news is not always easy. Change happened because of this protester's remarkable action in Tienanmen Square in 1989.
Prophecies about Jesus stated that he would know what it was to fellowship with suffering. But enduring hardship can point to good news that God is greater.
At Easter, we celebrate the ultimate sacrifice, Jesus' surrender of his own life for the sake of the higher claim of new life for all.
27:40 Message of hope 5: We can reconcile relationships by sharing a preferred future
When relationships are in difficulty, their best hope of reconciliation is if both parties share a preferred future with each other.
Good news from the Easter story includes the hope for our reconciliation with God, because Jesus shows that God has a preferred future with us.
All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:18-21, NIV)
Not only are we reconciled with God, we are given "the message of reconciliation" to share with others.
28:50 Message of hope 6: We can know God's peace and presence
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:7, NIV)
29:25 Message of hope 7: We are called to full life, fun and adventure
I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. (John 10:10b, NIV)
But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its rays. And you will go out and frolic like well-fed calves. (Malachi 4:2, NIV)
We can expect the life God wants for us to be fun! "Frolic" isn't a dull word. When people we know picture fulness of life, hope and a bright future, people expect this to be exciting and good, and it's good news that God seems to want it to be fun.
31:50 Receiving and sharing the good news
Which of these messages do we most need to receive?
When we receive this with an empowering spirit, do we expect God can enable us to share it with a broken world around us?
We can respond to this by bringing ourselves to God in worship, declaring his goodness, and expecting to receive empowerment and hope from him, for ourselves and to share.