Psst…It’s OK to talk about the Resurrection on Easter Sunday

Easter Question

Yesterday was Easter Sunday.  For most Christians around the world, the Resurrection of Jesus Christ our Lord was celebrated.  For most, you ask?  That’s right – for most.

I’m sure you’re wondering the same thing that others might be wondering – what do you mean “for most?”

Well, for those of us in attendance at the Northwest Tampa Church of Christ, we celebrated the resurrection of our Lord and Savior.  We also spent time talking about the last week of the life of Jesus – the Triumphal Entry, the Last Supper, His time in the Garden, His trial, His crucifixion, and finally, His resurrection.

Sadly, there were churches out there that did not spend time even discussing the resurrection of Jesus Christ on Easter Sunday.

Now, let me stop here and state that it is not a mandatory rule that we do this.  In fact, no where in the Bible does it mention Easter, or that we need to spend one Sunday out of 52 weeks celebrating the resurrection.

But let me ask you – why wouldn’t we do this?

I talked with several people yesterday and today about how their Easter church service went – and I had about 5 people who said “Our church didn’t even talk about the resurrection, except for in a prayer during Communion” – or something similar to that.

In the Churches of Christ – we take Communion/The Lord’s Supper every Sunday.  Somewhere along the way, members who were of the slightly more conservative persuasion decided that we didn’t need to celebrate the resurrection on “Easter” because we celebrate the death, burial, and resurrection every week during Communion.  They were afraid, I suppose, that if we talked about the Resurrection on Easter Sunday, that it would be too “denominational” and we would be erring.

That makes me sad.  It makes me sad that there are people who would specifically choose NOT to talk about the resurrection of our Lord and Savior on a certain day, basically because a church they disagree with is doing the same thing that day.

Sounds silly doesn’t it?

Its the same way at Christmas – you could sing “O Come All Ye Faithful” all year long until December, but then when December hits, you can’t sing it any more because its as if by singing that song, you’re saying that Jesus was indeed born in December.

Here are a few reasons why you SHOULD celebrate the resurrection on Easter Sunday, and perhaps even make it the emphasis of your Sunday worship:

1.  There’s nothing wrong with it.  Let me make one thing clear – it is NEVER not okay to talk about Jesus.  The resurrection is a great topic, and is always appropriate to discuss on a Sunday morning, a Tuesday afternoon, or a Friday night.

2.  People expect it.  Believe it or not, even non-Christians, visitors who have never been to Church, or anyone else you can think of have to make a decision to go to church on Easter Sunday.  I know, they should be more “faithful” in their attendance, but they made the decision to go on Easter.  They probably even know, since Easter is about the resurrection, to expect a lesson on it.

3.  Its a great opportunity.  You’ll have one of the largest percentages of unchurched, non-Christian visitors on this day.  Why would you not take time to tell them about how Jesus died, and then conquered death, and rose from the dead?

4.  It is one of the most, if not THE MOST, important things in the New Testament.  I read somewhere that the resurrection is the crowning proof of Christianity.  In reality – everything that Jesus did, the disciples did – is secondary in importance to the Resurrection.

If there was no resurrection, what we do now is in vain, its not true.

Death is a great enemy, and Jesus defeated it.  None of us can.  But Jesus can.

For those of you who use the idea that we celebrate the death, burial, and resurrection in the Churches of Christ every week, let me ask you this:  Do we really?

Sadly, I can count on one hand the amount of times we’ve discussed the resurrection during Communion time.  We’re so good about focusing on the pain and the sacrifice portion, but rarely do we bring up during Communion the part about how Jesus rose from the grave, and now lives forever.  You see, its not just that Jesus died, but he rose from the dead, and never died again.  And He won’t.  He’ll live forever, having defeated death.

Listen, I know we get nervous.  I know we want to make sure we do things right so we don’t stray from the Scriptures or the teachings of the New Testament.  But talking about the resurrection on Easter Sunday is not a sin.  It’s not wrong.  It’s a blessing.  It’s a blessing to talk about our risen Savior, and not just on Easter Sunday, but every day of the year.

Easter in the Holy Lands

I grew up in a home where we did the typical Easter things – egg hunt, new outfits (complete with saddle shoes), pictures by the blooming flowers, rush off to church, eat lunch with family.  While I grew up in a Christian home, we never talked about Easter being a holiday about the Resurrection.  Now, its not that we didn’t believe in the Resurrection, but in the Churches of Christ, its not typically “celebrated” that way.

While we do celebrate the death, burial, and resurrection each week while taking of Communion, let’s be honest – we do a poor job talking about that resurrection part.  I can count on one hand the amount of times the resurrection has been mentioned during communion/the Lord’s Supper. We do a good job talking about the death, but not so much about the resurrection.

When I was in Israel this past summer, I was taken down the “Via Dolorosa” –

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Now, what is the Via Dolorosa?  For those of who aren’t up to speed on our Jerusalem streets, the Via Dolorosa, means “way of sorrows.” While this is not the exact route that Jesus travelled on the way to the cross – it gives an idea of what Jesus did as he walked the long lonely walk. There are many stations, with the last one being the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, where it is thought to be the place where Jesus hung on the cross, and where his tomb is located.

When you get the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, it is truly a spectacle to behold.  There are at least 7 different “custodians” of the place – including the Eastern, Greek, Coptic, Ethiopian, and Syriac Orthodox Churches, and also the Armenian Apostolic and Roman Catholic Churches.  As you go from one section to another within the building, you can see the various artifacts and decoration change drastically.

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In the above picture, you’ll see the “Immovable Ladder” which has an interesting story.  Below that are two archways entrances, the only entrances, and one of them is bricked shut.  You can see them better below:

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As you go inside there are a few things of great significance – at least – they are thought to be of great significance.  Whether or not these things are the “actual items” is highly debated.  Such as this:

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The first picture is thought to be Golgotha or Calvary – the rock upon which Christ was crucified.  It is covered in glass, but when you get to the second picture, it is the Altar of Crucifixion.  The hole you see is for people to reach down and touch Calvary.

No one knows for sure if this is the exact spot or not.  Although, many people believe it is the place.

As you continue to walk through the church, one other thing you’ll see is this:

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This is called the Stone of Anointing – where they would have laid the body of Jesus before they buried him in the tomb.  There are many mosaics throughout the area, leading over to the  Aedicule, which is the area that contains the Holy Sepulchre.  For those of you who are wondering what the word “sepulchre” means – its basically a place to lay the dead, otherwise known as a tomb.

I didn’t get a good shot of the Aedicule – but here’s what I got:

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Its a very crowded area, and they don’t usually allow too many people to enter, but since it was less crowded that day, we were able to walk in it – but not allowed to take pictures.  In fact, I was getting some stares taking pictures of the outside.  On the inside, its just a small, cramped, empty space.

People flock from miles around to see this place.

But there is another location where people think Christ may have been crucified and buried:

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The Garden Tomb, to me, seems like a more logical place.  There is an area that looks like “The place of the skull” here.  Tell me what you think:

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Sadly, just below this is a bus station:

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They’ve also uncovered an area here where they feel may have been the tomb where Jesus was placed to rest:

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It was here that our group took Communion.

While we took Communion, it was the hour when the Muslims began to pray.  As the eery music came on, we were singing our own song.  As their song progressed, we got louder and louder.  It was a time I’ll never forget.

So how have my thoughts about Easter changed?

We take communion each week, and I’m grateful we do.  But sadly, its so easy for the death and the burial and the resurrection to lose meaning to us.  I want to grab hold of what these people have when they visit the Holy Sepulchre or the Garden Tomb.  I want to be reminded that this was a tragic, horrifying event, but had a miraculous, holy ending.  This isn’t just something we should remember and think about on Sundays for a few minutes while we take a cracker and drink a small cup of juice.

May God bless you this week as you remember the last week of Christ.