The Power of Easter

April 16, 2006

The Rev. Dr. Anthony J. Godlefski, Pastor

Montgomery United Methodist Church

 

John 20:1-18

The Easter Story

 

 

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, Happy Easter!  I’d like to begin today by telling you a story I heard not long ago. It seems that a minister and a taxi driver went to be with the Lord one day. They both went to heaven and they stood at the pearly gates. They went to see St. Peter. First to approach St. Peter was Dr. Baker, who had been preaching for 45 years. St. Peter said, “Name please?”

 

“I’m Dr. Baker, a minister.” St. Peter looked in his Book of Life and said, “Ah, yes, Dr. Baker. You’re the minister. Come on in, Dr. Baker. Welcome to heaven. Here is your cotton robe and your harp of wood.” Dr. Baker took them very gratefully, and he walked into heaven.

 

The next fellow walked up, and St. Peter said, “Name, please?”

 

“I’m Benny, the cab driver.” St. Peter looked in his book and said, “Ah, yes, Benny the cab driver. Welcome to heaven, Benny. Here is your robe of silk and your harp of gold.” He too took them gratefully.

 

Dr. Baker didn’t know what to make of this, so he went over to St. Peter and said, “Excuse me, St. Peter, I don’t mean to complain, but I got a robe of cotton and a harp of wood, and Benny the cab driver got a robe of silk and a harp of gold. Why is that? I’ve been preaching for 45 years.”

 

St. Peter said, “Ah, yes, Dr. Baker. Well, you see, when you preached, people slept. When Benny drove, people prayed.”

 

I’m beginning a series of sermons today on Easter Power. Today we’ll talk about “Easter Power – What Is It?” Next week we’ll talk about “Easter Power – How It Can Help You with Your Troubles and Your Worries.” And then we’re going to talk about “Easter Power – How You Can Be the Source of It.”

 

Let’s talk today about Easter Power –What Is It? What is the power of Easter? Let me tell you what happened on that first Easter. On that first Easter, we had a group of people gathered, like the people gathered in this room, but they were really scared; they were broken, and they were upset. Their beloved Jesus had been taken away from them and crucified like a common criminal. He died on the cross, and He was placed in a tomb. His friends were confused and frightened. A group of them got together and said, “Let’s go anoint the body. Let’s put sweet perfumes upon it. Let’s say goodbye again.”

 

So, early in the morning, they gathered up spices and perfumes and other symbols of love, and they went to the tomb, to the place where the body of Jesus lay. On their way there, they even wondered how they would approach the body because, you see, the tomb was sealed with a stone. What they did not know was what had happened just before they got there.

 

You see, there was a contingency of Roman guards placed to watch the tomb so that no one could steal the body. These were tough men; these were hardened soldiers. Not only that; the tomb was sealed with the seal of Rome, a wax seal that meant “Do Not Enter” and “Do Not Disturb” under heavy penalty. What no one accounted for is what happened next. The guards were there to keep people out of the tomb. What they didn’t count on was someone coming out of the tomb.

 

The ground began to shake and tremble; light spread its rays beside the stone that held the tomb shut. And the stone began to roll away. The piercing light that came from the tomb made the soldiers fall to their knees. And out of the tomb came the risen Christ. In a supernatural body, He came alive. He came alive with a body that we have not yet experienced in this life. It was a body that was recognizable, that could be touched, that could eat, but it was also a body that could pass through doors. It was an amazing thing. It was a demonstration of the power of God, the same power that caused Jesus to be able to raise Lazarus and be able to heal spontaneously. This resurrected body of Jesus came forth from the tomb in triumph and victory.

 

Low in the grave He lay, Jesus, my Savior,

Waiting the coming day, Jesus, my Lord.

Up from the grave He arose,

Triumphant over His foes.

He arose a victor over the dark domain

And He lives forever in our hearts to reign.

He arose! He arose!

Hallelujah, Christ arose.

 

The women went to the tomb, thinking that they would say goodbye. But when they got there, they got the biggest surprise of all. They went to say goodbye, but Jesus said hello. My friends, that’s the power of Easter. The power of Easter is that God has a big YES in store for you. I can summarize this sermon in one three-letter word: YES!

 

What is the power of Easter? It is YES! It is God’s YES to you. You see, my friends, Easter is witness to the fact that God is at the center of a conspiracy to do you good. God is at the center of a conspiracy to bless you. The forces of life are acting on your behalf. There is so much good coming your way. And all He asks us to do is have a little faith. Have a little faith in Him. Have a little faith in yourself. Have a little faith in knowing that God has a big YES in store for you.

 

For instance, don’t we tend to complain about things? Don’t we tend to say, “This isn’t going right” or “This appliance broke down” or “This store closed before I got there”? Don’t we act sometimes as if the world is focused around the thing that is broken? We also tend to beat up on ourselves and blame ourselves for many things. But the truth of the matter is that God has wonderful things in store for you. He has done and is doing great things for you.

 

For instance, I’m wondering if you can think of one good thing that happened to you so far today. Can you think of one thing that went well for you? Well, if you can’t think of anything at all – you got up, right? That’s a plus. What went well for you today before you got to church?

 

I’ve got good news and better news for you. The good news is the blessing you’ve just thought of. The better news is that you’ve had a thousand blessings just this morning. Just think – you got up, you were breathing, you opened your eyes, you saw, maybe you heard the birds this morning, you were able to get out bed, have some breakfast – so many blessings, before you even came to church.

 

My point is this: let’s think about the blessings, instead of the things that might have gone wrong, or the things you regret doing, or the mistakes you might have made. Let those things go, and concentrate on the fact that God wants to say YES to you. That’s Easter power. Friend, this week, let’s think about the ways in which God is saying YES to you, the ways in which God wants to bless you. Let’s have a little faith in God and in ourselves, because good things are coming your way. And one of the greatest of all is that Christ is risen, and that Christ is blessing you in this life and the life to come. Amen!

 

God loves you. I do, too. Have a blessed Easter. Amen.

 

© 2006 Anthony J. Godlefski