Rarely a day goes by when I don’t receive an email trying to lure me into a scam. They range from Lotteries that I have won that I did not enter. Or beautiful Russian women that somehow got my email address and tell me how much they want to meet me. Then there are the banking emails from banks I don’t bank with. There are the Generals from Nigeria who want to sneak out an amount of money from their country and promise to share it with me if I give them my bank details. That last one always amazes me because it’s not just a few dollars but usually 10s of millions of dollars. Just like the solar panel phone calls that I get every evening – I get rid of them straight away. They are scams.
I wonder in this generation when there are so many people wising up to scams whether the Easter Story is going to fit into that category also. We have the story of a person, Jesus Christ, who is crucified, dies and is buried and then rises from the dead. There is a great earthquake; an angel descends from heaven rolls back the stone covering the entrance to the cave which was used to bury Jesus and sat on it. Then he announces to the 2 women coming to the grave that Jesus has risen from dead. Is this a scam?
We are so used to these sorts of offers that we are told – if it’s too good to be true then it probably isn’t true. And that’s what the Easter story sounds like – a story too good to be true. Jesus rises from the dead and promises us the same when we die at no cost. That’s the difference between the Easter story and a scam. Scams intend to take things away from you – your money, your passwords, your identity. The Easter story is the opposite. It intends to give at no cost to us but has been fully paid for by Jesus.
What always amazes me about scams is that no matter how far-fetched the offer is someone will always fall for it. You hear about it so often. People who have lost thousands sending money to people they have never met because they hope that maybe it might be true. What surprises me about the Easter message is that people don’t take that same chance. Let’s look again at what Easter is about. Easter is about what happens after we die. Everything in the Christian message is about that one detail. That when we die we rise to a new life in Heaven.
The Christian message is not about how to make people live moral lives. The Christian message is not about making sure that same-sex marriage doesn’t happen. The Christian message is not about complaining that the AFL is now playing football on Good Friday. But sadly this is the Christian message that has been heard. Too often we allow earthly things to distract us and we forget what it is that is important to our message. And that’s why Paul says; Seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
The Easter message is so beautiful, so simple, so complete. It’s everything everyone is wanting. That after we have lived our life here on earth there is a home in heaven waiting for us. But too often we allow ourselves to be distracted by earthly things that we forget what it’s all about. I think this year I have been asked more about my views on Same Sex Marriage, Hot Cross Buns so early, the commercialisation of Christmas and Easter and playing football than how I feel about so many people not believing in Jesus Christ. We are more concerned about people saying Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas than the amount of people who say they don’t believe in God.
Jesus dying on the cross for our sins and assuring us of eternal life after we die is all we should be concerning ourselves about. When the 2 Marys saw the angel they were given the message to take: Go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead.’ This is my message for you. When you lose a loved one or you’re facing your own questions about death, the other things don’t seem as important. It’s not to say they aren’t important but that’s not the message we are sent to proclaim. The message of the church is the same message given by the angels to the 2 Mary’s: He has been raised from the dead. That’s what people want to hear – that’s what people NEED to hear. Christ is risen – he has risen indeed.
That was the message of the first church before they became concerned about Hot Cross Buns, and Happy Holidays and Football. As passionate as we are about those things it can take away the reason why we are here today celebrating Easter: ‘He has been raised from the dead.’ Christ has risen – he has risen indeed – This is my message for you.