Easter Service

Easter Service

We don’t shelter-in-place out of fear. We do it out of wisdom. We don’t tempt God by being irresponsible. We act with wisdom by washing our hands, sheltering-at-home, and social distancing. 

Mat 28:6-7 “He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. 7 And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you.”

Today we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. When they went into the tomb, they saw an angel. There was some grave clothes in a pile and the napkin that was on Jesus’ face was folded up. 

John 20:7 “And the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself.”

The stone wasn’t rolled away so Jesus could get out, it was so Mary and the other disciples could get in. So, Peter and John ran to see if Mary was telling the truth. Peter went inside and saw the linen cloth lying there. 

In order to understand this ‘folded napkin,’ we need to understand Jewish tradition. 

Meals were done exactly as the head of the house wanted it. While the head was eating, the servant would not touch the table. When he was done, he wiped his face with a napkin, and wadded it up and threw it on the table. That was the sign that he was finished with his meal. But, if the master wanted to get up for whatever reason, he would communicate that he was coming back by folding his napkin. This communicated, ‘Don’t take the food,’ through a folded napkin. 

Back then, the message, ‘Don’t take the food,’ was a folded napkin, placed where the master was eating. Jesus got up, resurrected, and knowing this custom, He folded the cloth that covered his face. This meant that He would be back. Peter saw this and recognized it. Jesus is coming back for His faithful servants. Jesus said, ‘I’ll be back.’ Even though Jesus said on the cross, ‘It is finished,’ He is coming back.

Phil 3:10 “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;”

Why is christianity different? Because of the empty tomb! Founders of other religions have tombs with their bodies still in them. Only Jesus is not in His tomb.

  1. Jesus is a documented historical figure. This is practically universally accepted, including non-christian historians, even hostile historians agree that Jesus actually lived. This is documented as fact. The historical accuracy of the New Testament has been verified over and over again. 
  2. Jesus died. Of course if He lived, he died. Death is a fact of life. Heb 9:27 “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:” This is also documented historically. Also, he was hanged on Passover for misleading the people. An ancient Roman historian, writing 115 AD, wrote ‘Their [christians’] originator, Christ, had been executed by Pontius Pilot.’
  3. They could not produce the body of Jesus Christ. The tomb was empty. It was also published that somebody circulated that the tomb was empty. Mat 28:13 “Saying, Say ye, His disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept.” To refute the claim that Jesus rose again, wouldn’t it have been easier to just produce a body? How hard would it really be to find a hidden body, especially with all the zeal by His enemies? 

Peter preached that the outpouring of the Spirit is a result of Jesus being raised from the dead. 

Acts 2:32 “This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses.”

Paul said his hope wasn’t just in this life. 

Rom 8:11 “But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.”

We believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The apostles preach that the love of God and the salvation of God were all in the cross. 

Paul was determined to not know anything except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. He was a brilliant man. 

1 Cor 1:21-24 “For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. 22 For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: 23 But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; 24 But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.”

Phil 3:10 “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;”

There was a last supper. 

Mat 26:26 “And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body.”

Instead of reciting what is normally said, Jesus changed it, ‘this is my body.’ Jesus was saying, ‘I’m the temple. 

Mat 26:27-28 “And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; 28 For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.”

We partake in communion. It’s not about the bread so much as it’s about remembering what Jesus did for us. Communion is symbolic of the partaking of the Passover meal that Jesus did with His disciples before He died. 

There is a warning that whoever drinks guiltily will be cursed. It’s the telling of the Cross. Communion is telling, reliving, the story of what Jesus did. 

1 Cor 11:27-32 “Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. 28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. 29 For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. 30 For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. 31 For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. 32 But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.”

If you do this in an unworthy manner, irreverently, not concerned about the truth of this, there are consequences. 

Jesus said, ‘When you do this, do it in remembrance of Me.’

Jesus rose again and that is a beautiful story, but it is also beautiful the story of the Cross. An examination takes place. Repent of sins and do that today. Jesus wore a crown of thorns. Jesus was beat with a whip that had glass embedded in it to cut His back more. Jesus was hung naked in front of everybody. He took our shame. He paid our debt. For our wrong thoughts, we have blood. He was wounded for our iniquities. 

In Passover celebrations, children would ask four questions. One was, ‘Why is this night different from any other night?’ There are four times that they drink from the cup and lift up the bread. 

Jesus lifted up the bread and broke it. Jesus Himself, raised Himself. It was His body that was broken. 

There were four cups lifted up, the third cup was the cup of redemption. Jesus said that He wouldn’t drink again until we meet Him in heaven. 

Heb 6:1-3 “Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, 2 Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. 3 And this will we do, if God permit.”

The Israelites’ sins were transmitted onto the sacrificed animals through laying on of hands onto the animal. Moses transmitted leadership to Joshua through touch. We can have that same transmission through the sacrifice of Jesus, our sins for His sinlessness. 

We’re not worthy, but Jesus took on our sin. The blood is applied through water baptism in Jesus’ name. We receive His Spirit through Holy Ghost baptism, all because of Calvary, everything Jesus did for us. Remember. 

Every bit of sin and shame was removed because of what Jesus did! 

Faith is really trusting completely in Jesus and what He did. There is an exchange that must be made. We must make the exchange or our will for His will. He made the exchange for us, He took our sins, so we wouldn’t be condemned. If we fail to exchange our own will for His will, His character, His way. 

More Questions for Personal or Group Study:

  1. What did you do to celebrate Easter in light of COVID19? Were you able to watch a service online? How are you adjusting to these changes?
  2. What struck you the most in the sermon above? Why?
  3. Read Psalm 27. If you think of SIN as your enemy, how can you apply these verses to yourself? Taking these verses and the sermon above, what is our part in overcoming fear? What has Jesus already done for us?
  4. How can we better encourage ourselves to walk with Jesus (in His Spirit) every day and encourage others? 

Excerpted from a sermon preached by Pastor Anthony LoCascio. 

For the full YouTube audio/video, click here.