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April 16, 2017
Rev. Terry Martinson
John 20: 1-18

THEME: May the Lord bless you today with his Easter love.


  • Let me start my sermon this morning by pronouncing a benediction.
    • Benedictions, of course, usually come at the very end of the service between the closing hymn and the postlude, but they are appropriate elsewhere too…
    • The word benediction comes from two Latin words: bene, which means “good,” and dicere, which means “word”… so benediction means “a good word.”
    • Over time, the word benediction has come to be associated with the pronouncing of a blessing…
  • So let me start my sermon this morning, not with a joke, as I sometimes do, but by pronouncing an Easter blessing on you – on each one of youThough there are many folks here this morning, please hear this as a very personal blessing – a blessing intended for you, because it is:

“May the Lord stir in your heart an Easter faith;

May the Lord open your eyes to his Easter power;

May the Lord inspire you to sing today with Easter joy;

And may the Lord bless you today with his Easter love. Amen.”

  • I sincerely pray that the Lord will bless you – you personally – with an Easter blessing.


  • Easter is at the very heart of our faith…
  • In the church we have many special days – holy days – but none are more important than Easter.
  • If I had to make a list of the three most important days in the church’s life, I would choose:
    • First, CHRISTMAS: celebrating the Incarnation – the coming of God into our world in human form – the birth of the baby Jesus.
    • Second, GOOD FRIDAY: the day that Jesus died on the cross.
    • Third, EASTER: The resurrection – the day that Jesus rose from the dead.
  • Christmas, Good Friday, and Easter! Those three days hang together. We can’t have Easter without the others.
    • We couldn’t have Easter without Christmas – without the Incarnation – without God coming into our world in human form… Jesus had to be born in a stable in Bethlehem before he could die on the cross… In the Christian scheme of things, everything start’s with Jesus’ birth.
    • And we couldn’t have Easter without Good Friday – without Christ dying on the cross… death and resurrection go together! You can’t get to resurrection without dying first… Jesus had to be buried in his grave before he could break the bonds of death… he had to be laid inside the tomb before he could leave the tomb.
  • So we have three great days – Christmas, Good Friday, Easter: the day Jesus was born in Bethlehem… the day

Jesus died on the cross… and the day Jesus rose from the dead… and of those days EASTER is the greatest, because it was the resurrection that accomplished what Jesus came to do.

  • Jesus came into this world to save us from sin and death – and it was at the open tomb that he made that possible – that he opened the door for us to eternal life.
  • Easter is about LIFE… it’s knowing that death is not the end… it’s believing that death is not the end of the road, but a bend in the road.
  • The resurrection was a remarkable event, not just for Jesus, but for each one of us.


  • Easter – the resurrection of Jesus – opens for us the door to eternal life
  • These words, “eternal life,” deserve an explanation…
    • We usually think of eternal life as life that just goes on, and on, and on forever – a life that has no end.
    • But shortly before his death, Jesus prayed a great prayer – it’s found in the Gospel of John, chapter 17… Jesus’ prayer takes up the whole chapter…
    • In that prayer, Jesus acknowledged that it was time for him to “GIVE ETERNAL LIFE to all whom God had given him.” <John 17:2>
    • And then Jesus prayed – now listen very carefully – Jesus prayed: “THIS IS ETERNAL LIFE, that they know You, the only true God, and him whom you sent, Jesus Christ.” <John 17:3>
  • This is important – In Jesus’ prayer, he defined eternal life NOT as life that goes on and on and on, but as life lived in relationship with God.
    • That doesn’t mean that we won’t live forever…
    • It does not mean that we won’t experience life that goes on and on and on…
    • But here’s the good news – the happy news – it does mean that we can begin to experience eternal life NOW – TODAY!
    • It means we can start living the blessed Easter life NOW… we don’t have to wait until we die… That’s the good news…
    • We can begin NOW to really know God -  to let God’s unconditional love wash over us, cleanse us, change us, and to make us – the blessed people that God has created us to be… to do the blessed work that God created us to do… to be a blessing – a real blessing – to the people around us…
  • The eternal life that Jesus came to give us does not start when we die… for us, eternal life begins the very moment that we make Jesus Christ the Lord of our lives…
  • Jesus Christ invites us to live today!
  • We gather on this Easter Sunday and every Sunday believing that Jesus Christ has been raised from the dead and believing that because he lives, we shall live.  <John 14:9>
  • Easter is the day that Jesus defeated death, not only for himself, but also for us.


  • But how do we know that the resurrection is real? How do we know that Jesus was raised from the dead? What proof do we have?
  • The first great evidence of the resurrection is what happened to his disciples…
    • When they went to Jerusalem with Jesus, they were afraid, knowing that powerful men wanted Jesus dead.
    • Then, after Jesus died on the cross, the disciples went into hiding because they knew that the men who had killed Jesus were likely to come after them next.
    • But then, after they saw the risen Christ, they went out into the streets of Jerusalem… and Peter stood on a soap box and started preaching fearlessly… and people flocked to the disciples to be baptized… there was nothing to be scared of anymore…
    • The resurrection truly changed the disciples… they became new men, filled with new life!
  • The second great evidence of the resurrection is the people I have known – people whose lives have been turned around once they came to know Jesus… they’re in our congregation today
    • To the extent that we have embraced Christ as our Lord, he has transformed – changed – our lives.
    • To me, that is powerful evidence that Jesus is who he claimed to be.
  • Easter is all about life and love and the power of God.
    • You don’t prove love, you embrace it!
    • You don’t prove God’s power, you experience it!
    • You don’t prove life, you live it!


  • “Blessed are those to whom Easter is not a hunt, but a find… not a greeting, but a proclamation… not an outward fashion, but an inward grace… not a day, but an eternity.”  <Anderson>
  • He lives! He lives! Christ Jesus lives today!... You ask me how I know he lives, he lives within my heart!


“May the Lord stir in your heart an Easter faith;

May the Lord open your eyes to his Easter power;

May the Lord inspire you to sing today with Easter joy;

And may the Lord bless you today with his Easter love. Amen.”



*This sermon is based very closely upon the resources and the sermon in Sermonwriter  for Easter 2013 – Dick Donovan, editor…

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