The Festival of the Resurrection of our Lord

Pre-Service Prayer  –  My victorious Savior, what joy is in my heart today!  I am alive;  I am forgiven;  and through faith in You I am an heir of everlasting life.  I know I can never repay You for all that You, in love have done for me.  Help me to grow in faith and love for You as I hear and meditate on Your Word today.  Assist me also, to use all that I am and have on earth as living proof to Your resurrection by my witnessing to and proclaiming the power of Your redeeming love to everyone I meet.  Take away any doubts, fears, or apprehensions I may have, and replace them with confidence, spiritual maturity, and courage so that I may faithfully do the work which You have chosen for me.  I ask this in Your name, and in the sure hope and confidence of my resurrection.  Amen.


“The Third Day He Rose Again From The Dead”

The ancient world boasted of seven wonders:  the pyramids of Egypt;  the hanging gardens of Babylon;  the temple of the pagan goddess Diana in Ephesus;  the lighthouse at Alexandria, Egypt;  the Colossus (huge bronze statue) in the harbor at Rhodes;  the statue of the pagan god Zeus at Olympia, Greece;  and the tomb of the Persian king, Mausalus, at Halicarnassus.  Of all those ancient wonders, only the pyramids are still standing.  All the others have crumbled, along with the ancient belief systems and world powers whose accomplishments they memorialized.  But another wonder from the ancient world is very much alive today.  And this wonder is far more significant that all the seven of these ancient landmarks put together.  This is the wonder of the empty tomb of Jesus at Jerusalem.  When the body of our Savior was laid into the tomb on the first Good Friday afternoon, the forces of evil were certain that they had won a great victory at last.  But Jesus was raised on the third day, and we celebrate that wonderful truth this morning!

This Easter Sunday worship service has been developed around the theme drawn from that phrase in the second article of the Apostles’ Creed which affirms the certainty of the bodily resurrection of our Lord Jesus:  “The Third Day He Rose Again From The Dead.”   And today we WILL be stressing the significance — and the very necessity — of Jesus’ physical (that is, His bodily) resurrection from the grave for us.        Why?  Because from the day Jesus rose from the grave until now, the doctrine (Biblical teaching) of Jesus’ bodily resurrection has been attacked by all manner of enemies both outside and inside the visible church.  In Jerusalem 20 centuries ago, the chief priests denied the reality of the resurrection even when the Roman soldiers who’d been guarding the tomb came and told them that Jesus had physically risen from the grave.   They “persuaded” those soldiers with a bribe to spread the lie that Jesus’ disciples came during the night and stole His body away.   So today, many “scientific” (and unbelieving) people reject the wonderful reality of Jesus’ resurrection, saying it simply couldn’t have occurred….since resurrections from the grave don’t happen in every day life.  Still others (including some so-called theologians and ministers), in an effort to “de-mythologize” the Biblical record (that is, they try to remove from the Scriptures whatever they foolishly believe is not historically, rationally, and scientifically accurate) claim that Jesus never physically rose from the grave.  Instead they maintain that while “He Lives,” He does so only spiritually in the hearts and minds of His followers. (Don’t forget, most of these blasphemous “theologians” do not believe that Jesus is God!)

However, you and I know the truth, and through Today’s Scripture Lessons, drawn from the resurrection accounts given us by the Gospels of Matthew and Mark, in addition to the Apostle Paul’s “Great Resurrection Chapter” in I Corinthians, we will remind each other of this simple, clear, certain fact drawn from Scripture:  Jesus physically rose from the grave on the third day….and many people witnessed it that very first Easter  (Mary Magdalene, the Women, Peter, the Emmaus disciples, the Apostles minus Thomas).  Later still others (James,  select apostles, and upwards of 500 people at one time) came face to face with and even touched (in Thomas’ case) the risen Lord.  There can be no doubt that He is Risen Indeed!  In our Final reading, Job expresses his confidence in the bodily resurrection. As we close with Job’s beautiful profession of faith, may we also be moved to sing loudly, faithfully and confidently our closing hymn for today (which is based on this text),”I Know That My Redeemer Lives!”  Because He does, for ever and ever!


The portions of God’s Word used in this worship flyer have been taken from

The Holy Bible, Evangelical Heritage Version    Copyright 2019,

The Wartburg Project, Inc.   All rights reserved.   Used with permission


Grace Lutheran Church of Northwest Arkansas

is affiliated with the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod, a church body which spans the United States and Canada, also operating a number of foreign missions.

Our Vision:      Extend God’s Kingdom through His Word, serving each Soul.

Our Mission:  Share the Gospel, Encourage Faith, and Prepare Souls

through Worship, Education and Fellowship.


“On His arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days.   When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet Him.   “Lord,”  Martha said to Jesus, “if You had been here, my brother would not have died.  But I know that even now God will give You whatever you ask.”   Jesus said to her,  “Your brother will rise again.”    Martha answered  “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”   Jesus said to her,

“I am the Resurrection and the Life.  He who believes in Me will live even

though he dies;  and whoever lives and believes in Me will never die.”

John, chapter 11, verses 25-26


We Praise Our God


The Introduction and Invitation to Worship – Pastor


The Invocation                                                                                                                                               


We begin this festival service

In the name of the Father, Who gave His Son into death

and raised Him in glory on the third day;

And of the Son, Who laid down His life and took it up again;

And of the Holy Spirit Who lives in us through the Word

and Who will one day give life to our mortal bodies.   Amen.


The Opening Prayer


O Almighty God,   +   Who for our redemption   +   gave Your one and only Son,  Jesus Christ,  +  to suffer shame and death upon the cross,   +   and by His glorious resurrection  +   has delivered us from the power of our enemies;  +   Grant that we may die daily to sin,  +   so that by Your grace   + through faith +  we will live forever with Him   +   Who died and rose again for us.   + We offer this prayer in the name of Jesus Christ,   +   Your Son, our Lord,   +  Who lives and rules with You and the Holy Spirit,   +   as the One true God,   +    now and forever.  +   Amen.



The First Hymn                                                                                                    “How Great Thou Art”

verses 1-2  Carl Boberg;  verse 3, cwh


O Lord, my God, when I in awesome wonder

Consider all the works Thy hand hath made

I see the stars,  I hear the mighty thunder,

Thy pow’r throughout the universe displayed.

Then sings my soul,   my Savior-God to Thee,

“How great Thou art!   How great Thou art!”

Then sings my soul,   my Savior-God to Thee,

“How great Thou art!   How great Thou art!”


And when I think that God, His Son not sparing,

Sent Him to die,  I scarce can take it in.

That on the cross my burden gladly bearing

He bled and died to take away my sin.

Then sings my soul,   my Savior-God to Thee,

“How great Thou art!   How great Thou art!”

Then sings my soul,   my Savior-God to Thee,

“How great Thou art!   How great Thou art!”


On the third day, our Lord His body raises,

Defeating sin, death, Satan, and the grave.

Today I bow and offer Him my praises,

For Jesus Christ alone my soul did save!

Then sings my soul,   my Savior-God to Thee,

“How great Thou art!   How great Thou art!”

Then sings my soul,   my Savior-God to Thee,

“How great Thou art!   How great Thou art!”



An Easter Proclamation of Faith in our Risen Lord!  

selected Scripture verses from Ps 118, Is 25; Eze 12;  Rom 4;  I Cor 1;  I Cor 15)


P:         God is faithful.

C:        He fulfills whatever He says.


P:         The Stone the builders rejected has become the Capstone;

C:        The Lord has done this and it is marvelous in our eyes.


P:         The Lord Almighty will destroy the shroud that enfolds all peoples, the sheet that covers all nations;  He will swallow up death forever.

C:        Surely this is our God;  we trusted in Him, and He saved us;    let us rejoice and be glad in His salvation.


P:         Jesus was delivered over to death for our sins,

C:        And raised to life for our justification


P:         Shouts of joy and victory resound in the tents of the righteous.

C:        The Lord’s right hand has done mighty things.


P:         Death has been swallowed up in victory.

C:        Thanks be to God Who gives us the victory +  through our Lord Jesus Christ.


P:         I will not die, but live and will proclaim what the Lord has done.

C:        I will give You thanks for You answered me;    +    You have become my salvation.


P:         Christ the Lord is risen today!

C:        He is risen indeed.  Hallelujah!


P:         This is the day the Lord has made;

C:        Let us rejoice, and be glad in it.  Hallelujah!



The Confession of our Resurrection Faith                                                          


I believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord;   +   who was conceived by the Holy Ghost;  +   born of the Virgin Mary;  +  suffered under Pontius Pilate;   +   was crucified, dead, and buried;    +    He descended into hell;   +   the third day He rose again from the dead;   +  He ascended into heaven;   +   and sitteth at the right hand of God the Father almighty;   +  From thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead.


What does this mean?


I believe that Jesus Christ, true God,   +    begotten of the Father from eternity,   +   and also true man,    +   born of the Virgin Mary, is my Lord.  +    He has redeemed me, a lost and condemned creature,     +    purchased and won me from all sins,    +   from death,    +   and from the power of the devil,    +    not with gold or silver,    +    but with His holy, precious blood,    +   and with His innocent suffering and death.   +  All this He did that I should be His own,    +    and live under Him in His kingdom,    +  serve Him in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness,   +     just as He has risen from death   +    and lives and rules eternally.    +   This is most certainly true.   +    Amen.



The Children’s Lesson                                                                                                 I Corinthians 15:20


But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the Firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep!


“He Really Did Come Out Of The Grave….Because He Lives!”



The Reality of Jesus’ Bodily Resurrection


…At the Empty Tomb…                                                                                                    Matthew 28:1-16


After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. 2 Suddenly, there was a great earthquake! For an angel of the Lord came down from heaven, and going to the tomb, he rolled away the stone and was sitting on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing was as white as snow. 4 The guards were so terrified of him that they shook and became like dead men. 5 The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid! I know that you are looking for Jesus, Who was crucified. 6 He is not here. He has risen, just as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. 7 Go quickly and tell His disciples, ‘He has risen from the dead! And look, He is going ahead of you to Galilee. There you will see Him.’ See, I have told you!”  8 They hurried away from the tomb, with fear and great joy, and ran to tell His disciples. 9 Suddenly Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!”  They approached, took hold of His feet, and worshiped Him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go, tell My brothers that they should   go to Galilee, and there they will see Me.”


11 As they were on their way, there were some members of the guard who went into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had happened. 12 After the chief priests had assembled with the elders and had reached a decision, they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers 13 and said, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came at night and stole Him away while we were sleeping.’ 14 If the governor hears about it, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” 15 After the soldiers took the money, they did as they were instructed. And this story has been repeated among the Jews until this day.

…Its Significance for Us…                                                                        I Corinthians 15:1-20, & 50-58


Brothers, I am going to call your attention to the gospel that I preached to you. You received it, and you took your stand on it. 2 You are also being saved by that gospel that was expressed in the words I preached to you, if you keep your hold on it—unless you believed in vain. 3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received:  that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4  that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,

5  and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the Twelve.  6 After that he appeared to over five hundred brothers at the same time, most of whom are still alive, but some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, and then to all the apostles. 8 Last of all, he appeared also to me, the stillborn child, so to speak. 9 For I am the least of the apostles, and I am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted God’s church. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not ineffective. On the contrary, I worked more than all of them (and yet it wasn’t my doing, but it was the grace of God, which was with me, that did it). 11 So whether it is I or they, that is what we preach, and that is what you believed.


12 Now if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how is it that some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 If there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is pointless, and your faith is pointless too. 15 Then we are even guilty of giving false testimony about God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise, if it were true that the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18 Then it also follows that those who fell asleep in Christ perished. 19 If our hope in Christ applies only to this life, we are the most pitiful people of all.  20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.


50 Now I say this, brothers: Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, and what is perishable is not going to inherit what is imperishable. 51 Look, I tell you a mystery. We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the blink of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For this perishable body must put on imperishability, and this mortal body must put on immortality. 54 But once this perishable body has put on imperishability, and this mortal body has put on immortality, then what is written will be fulfilled:   Death is swallowed up in victory.  55  Death, where is your sting? Grave, where is your victory?   56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!   58 Therefore, my dear brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the Lord’s work, because you know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.



The Sermon Hymn                                                                                                                       Hymn 143

                                                                                         “He’s Risen, He’s Risen, Christ Jesus, the Lord”


1 He’s risen, He’s risen, Christ Jesus, the Lord;

He opened Death’s prison, the Incarnate Word.

Break forth, hosts of heaven, in jubilant song,

And, earth, sea, and mountain, the praises prolong.


2 The Foe was triumphant when on Calvary

The Lord of creation was nailed to the tree.

In Satan’s domain did the hosts shout and jeer,

For Jesus was slain, whom the evil ones fear.


3 But short was their triumph, the Savior arose,

And Death, hell, and Satan He vanquished, His foes;

The conquering Lord lifts His banner on high.

He lives, yes, He lives, and will nevermore die.


4 Oh, where is your sting, Death? We fear you no more;

Christ rose, and now open is fair Eden’s door,

For all our transgressions His blood does atone;

Redeemed and forgiven, we now are His own.


5 Then sing your hosannas and raise your glad voice;

Proclaim the blest tidings that all may rejoice.

Laud, honor, and praise to the Lamb that was slain,

Who now sits in glory and ever shall reign.    Amen.


The Pre-Sermon Greeting


Grace and peace to you from Him Who is, and Who was, and Who is to come.   This is the day the LORD has made;  let us rejoice and be glad in it.   Hallelujah!



The Sermon Text                                                                                                                       Mark 16:1-8


When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so they could go and anoint Jesus. 2 Very early on the first day of the week, at sunrise, they went to the tomb. 3 They were saying to each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance to the tomb for us?” 4 When they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away.

5 As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed. 6 He said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. 7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’”

8 They went out and hurried away from the tomb, trembling and perplexed. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.


“The Certainty of Easter”


The Post-Sermon Blessing                                                                                                          Jude 24-25


Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you faultless in the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, be glory, majesty, power, and authority through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all time, now, and to all eternity. Amen.

We Offer Our Gifts and Prayers to the Lord


Our Offerings of Love to our Lord


Because we aren’t able to pass an offering plate today, as we would during a regular worship service, we offer you the following suggestions for providing God with Your thank-offerings through our ministry:


1) You can send a check (no cash) in the mail to the church address (415 N. 6th Place, Lowell, AR 72745)

2) You can go online to our website ( and use the giving option there.

3) You can also contact the Pastor about bringing your offering by the church during the week….

or, if you have a key to the church, by leaving it in the offering plate on the altar.

The Responsive Prayer for the Festival of the Resurrection


  P:       Blessed Savior of all mankind, this morning we have again heard about Your glorious resurrection from the grave and Your triumph for us over sin, death and hell.  In all this You were our Substitute.

  C:      The battle which You fought was our battle,   +   and therefore the victory which You won is our victory.


  P:       Because You rose from the dead, we know that all our sins have been paid for in full.

  C:      Like the stone rolled away from Your grave,   even so our sins have been rolled away from our hearts,    and our guilt and punishment have been forever removed from us.


  P:       Because You were raised from the grave by the glory of the Father, we know that we, together with all true believers, will also be raised to life on the Last Day with glorified bodies.

  C:      Help us, by Your Holy Spirit,   to always remember that we are Your dearly loved children,   having been spiritually resurrected by You.

  P:       Keep us from sin in every shape and form.

  C:      Help us to live our new lives in gratitude to You,   and for Your glory.


  P:       Through the power of the Holy Spirit, enable us to keep Your commandments faithfully.

  C:      Fill us with the same sacrificial love    for You and our fellow man    that You have demonstrated and continue to display toward us.


  P:       And finally, when that great Last Day arrives,  when You will return in all Your divine majesty, attended by Your angels to raise the dead and judge the world,

  C:      raise us all dear Savior,  and take us to the heavenly mansions     which You have prepared for us and all who believe in You    that we may forever share in Your glory.  


  P:       Hear us, for Your name’s sake, Lord Jesus Christ.  And in Your name we also join in praying:


  C:      Our Father, Who art in heaven;  Hallowed be Thy name;  Thy kingdom come;  Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven;  Give us this day our daily bread;  And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us;  And lead us not into temptation;  But deliver us from evil;  For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever.  Amen.



We Leave With The Lord’s Blessing


The Final Scripture Reading:  Job’s Confidence in His

Resurrection and our Confidence in our own Resurrection                                                                                                             Job 19:25-27


25 As for me, I know that my Redeemer  lives,  and that at the end of time He will stand over the dust.  26  Then, even after my skin has been destroyed,  nevertheless, in my own flesh I will see God.  27  I myself will see Him.  My own eyes will see Him,  and not as a stranger.   My emotions are in turmoil within me.

The Benediction                 


            The Lord bless you and keep you.

            The Lord make His face to shine upon you and be gracious unto you.

            The Lord look with favor upon you, and grant you His peace.    Amen.



The Closing Hymn                                                                      Hymn 152  “I Know That My Redeemer Lives”


I know that my Redeemer lives;    What comfort this sweet sentence gives!    He lives, He lives, Who once was dead;   He lives my ever-living Head.


He lives triumphant from the grave;  He lives eternally to save;

He lives all-glorious in the sky;  He lives exalted there on high.


He lives to silence all my fears,       He lives to wipe away my tears,

He lives to calm my troubled heart,    He lives all blessings to impart.


He lives all glory to His name!    He lives my Jesus still the same.

Oh the sweet joy this sentence gives.       “I know that my Redeemer lives!”  





Special Thanks to Dale Johannes and Ryan Bratton, whose offering of their indispensable technical skills has put this service (and our previous online services) on the internet – for God’s glory and for benefit of those who will watch it.  


Last Sunday at Grace Lutheran                                                                                                                                                                                    

Budget Offerings sent to church:    $3415          School Fund: $10

Capital Improvement:   $10              Benevolence: $100

(Some offerings that were left at church, or that arrived in this week’s mail have not yet been recorded.  They will be included in next week’s bulletin.)


This Week’s Birthdays            April 12 – Rachel Strackbein;     April 13 – Jimmy Clark;      April 15 – Kyla Huebner;


DO YOU KNOW ANYONE YOU COULD INVITE & BRING TO CHURCH?….  Perhaps there’s  someone from within your circle of friends, relatives, acquaintances, or neighbors who is not currently involved with a church.   Please consider encouraging them to find us on the internet at either our web site ( or through our YouTube page (Grace Lutheran Church and Academy, Lowell, Arkansas) and join in our online worship services.  

            Others among you might consider sharing a copy of our worship flyer and Sunday sermon with someone whom you think would benefit from it.   (We can mail these to them also, if you give us their names and addresses.)   

            And don’t forget that this “suspension” of public worship services across our country is only a temporary one.    Soon we will be back in church together, thanking and praising God for His grace to us….not only for His physical deliverance from the Coronavirus, but for the Spiritual deliverance His has provided us from the damnably-deadly virus that produces sin in us.   Be planning, praying about, and even encouraging others you know to join us at Grace Lutheran when we do resume meeting together again.  


A Few Closing Encouragements and Appeals from Your Pastor…..

*          I am praying for you.   Please keep each other in your prayers.   (Use your church directory….)   Please keep me and my family in your prayers too.

*          Continue to read your Bibles and have your devotions daily.

*          Call, email, text, and write your fellow members during this time.   Let’s keep “tabs” on each other to see how we are all faring during this time of social distancing, and let’s encourage and support one another as we are able.

*          Worship with us on line, or through the mail…..preferably on Sunday mornings, so that we are all keeping up the good habit and practice of worshiping together.

*          Encourage people you know outside our church to worship with us on line and/or share your worship materials with them as you have the opportunity.

*          CALL me anytime, if you need anything…..including if you’re facing any personal, health, Spiritual, or other challenges.


I am praying for you.   I miss you all very much (more than you might imagine!).   God bless you, until we meet again!                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Pastor Chuck Huebner

Some Facts Connected with the History

of the Church’s Celebration of Christ’s Resurrection


            An article written a few years ago reported that more than a third of high school students in the U.S. did not know the true reason for celebrating Easter.  That might be a surprising bit of news to most of us who’ve gathered here this morning specifically to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus, but we really shouldn’t be surprised given the social trends in our nation over the past generation.   The increasing variety of ethnic and religious groups that make up our population today, coupled with a rather aggressive effort on the part of secularists to remove as many Christian influences and symbols as they can from the public eye, have produced a vacuum of understanding concerning many of the Christian values and observances long a part of our American culture.

            We have come together on this Easter Sunday to celebrate the fact that three days after He died on the cross and was buried, Jesus physically came back to life, left His grave, and lives as our Savior-God today.    It is our conviction that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, through His bodily resurrection from the dead has broken the power of sin, death and Satan, and has secured forgiveness for all, and eternal life in heaven for us who believe in Him.   The fundamental reason for Christians to celebrate Easter, then, is because Christ lives   ! To quote His words to the Apostle John in Revelation 1:18, “I am the Living One;  I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever.   And I hold the keys to death and Hades!” Because He lives, Easter has always been a special occasion of celebration for the Christian Church, based on this certainty which fills us with the confidence that because Jesus lives, by faith we will live for ever and ever in heaven with our risen Lord.

Our date for Easter is established in relation to the same natural signs

which mark  the celebration of the Jewish Passover.   It generally occurs on the first Sunday after the first full moon of the vernal (spring) equinox.  As a result, Easter can come anytime between March 22nd and April 25th.   This year, it falls on April 12th.


            In the earliest days of the Christian Church, the events of Easter Sunday (along with those of Good Friday) were routinely commemorated every week in the worship service held each Lord’s Day (Sunday).   The first “festival-like” celebrations of Christ’s resurrection began to be held in the early second century.  By the third century, Easter was followed by a period of fifty days devoted to focusing on the resurrection  (which we continue to refer to on the Church Calendar as “The Easter Season;”  seven Sundays in length, it begins on Easter Sunday and concludes with our observance of Pentecost).  

            The first Nicene Council (325 A.D.) determined the method for setting the date on which Western Christian churches (Western Europe, most of Africa, the Americas and Asia….which follow the Gregorian Calendar) observe Easter.  (See the comments above about the 1st Sunday following the Vernal Equinox.)  In the Eastern churches (the Balkans, southeastern Europe, Russia, Ethiopia, and the Middle East….where the Julian calendar is followed) Jesus’ death is commemorated on the 14th day of the Jewish month of Nisan.  Consequently, in Eastern rite churches (e.g. Greek Orthodox, Russian Orthodox, Armenian Orthodox, Coptic Orthodox [in Ethiopia]) the celebration of Christ’s resurrection can fall on any day of the week.  In fact, the Eastern Church’s celebration of the resurrection can fall anywhere from one to four weeks behind  our Western observance of Easter.  The Eastern Church’s tradition-based practice over the centuries has been to emphasize the significance of Christ’s death on Good Friday over significance of the His resurrection on Easter morning. 

            In Western Churches, while the events of Good Friday — with Christ’s sacrificial death for the world’s sins — are appropriately highlighted, the celebration of the resurrection on Easter morning is given “center stage.”  The reason for this practice is that Scripture teaches us that Christ’s resurrection certifies that His death for sin was accepted by the Father in heaven as sufficient (I Corinthians 15:3; 17;  Romans 4:25), as it also proves that Christ is our God (Romans 1:4;  Acts 2:32), that there is a resurrection of the body  (I Corinthians 15:12, 16, 20)  and  we also will one day rise from the grave to newness of life (John 6:40;  14:19;  11:25,26).

            Historically, some controversy has existed as to the naming of this celebration——Easter.   In fact, on the calendar of the Church the day of Christ’s resurrection is more appropriately referred to as “The Celebration of the Resurrection of our Lord,”  since it was on this first day of the week that Jesus rose again from the dead and was first seen by His disciples (Matthew 28:1-20).   In connection with this we want to keep in mind that what we are celebrating this morning is the annual celebration of a reality that is actually reaffirmed by millions every Sunday.  Each “first day of the week” those who believe that Christ——the Messiah of Old Testament promise——has come in the Person of Jesus of Nazareth unite to worship Him.   Thus Christians proclaim week-in and week-out this precious truth:    that Jesus died for the sins of all mankind, and that He rose again as the manifest evidence of His being the Son of God and the Savior of humankind (Romans 1:1-4; 16, 17).

            It is interesting to note that the origin of  our English word “Easter” is uncertain.   It could  have come from “Eostre,” the Teutonic (ancient German) name for the goddess of spring, or from the Teutonic festival for spring called “Eostur.”   Other possibilities are that it has been derived from the Middle English word “Ostern,” which denotes the direction from which the sun rises, or that it is connected in some matter with the name of the Greek goddess Astarte.   (Some even trace the derivation to the Babylonian nature goddess Ishtar.)    In the  King James Version of the Bible, the word Easter occurs in Acts 12:4 but there it is actually a mistranslation of the Greek word  pascha, meaning “Passover.”  (This has been corrected in most contemporary translations.)     The pagan “connection” to the term  “Easter” has caused some Christians – in their Christian freedom – to protest against using the designation, although they still observe the event to which it testifies.    But for most Christians, the name holds no relationship whatsoever to the names of pagan goddesses.    For the vast majority of believers, Easter is a day of declaring Christ’s (and, through faith in Him, our eventual…) triumph over death through the power of the resurrection, and of our celebrating Jesus’ resurrection assurance that our sins are fully forgiven and that everlasting life and salvation are ours through faith in Him as our Lord and Savior.                   

            Spanish-speaking persons typically refer to the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection by the term “Pascua.”  In Italian, Easter is “Pasqua,” while the French word for Easter is “Paques”…..all are derived from the Hebrew word for Passover, “Pesah.

            The Lamb is one of our better-known symbols associated with  Easter.  This symbol, of course, is intimately connected with the Jewish Pesah (Passover) observance.  During Passover the Jewish people re-enact the events of the Exodus from Egypt, a part of which included each family killing an unblemished lamb at sprinkling its blood on their doorposts.   The unblemished lamb for Christians is a fitting Old Testament example (or “type”) of our sinless Savior, while the blood of the lamb represents the assurance that salvation has been secured for us through the precious  blood of the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, Who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29;  Isaiah 53).

            Finally, Jesus Christ has also made this announcement of assurance to every one of us:   “Because I live, you shall live also!” (John 14:19).    Eternal life-beyond-death is promised to everyone who believes Jesus is our God and Savior from sin.   He is not only an example of godly living that we can follow in this lifetime; He is, above all else…the Way to heaven, the ultimate Source of all Truth, and the Guarantee of Life everlasting for all who put their faith in Him.    Finally the consummate confidence that His resurrection gives us provides the Christian with an overcoming faith enabling us to endure life’s trials and stresses certain that a better life in heaven is ours through our Risen Lord.     Because Easter’s testimony is true, we have a hope for tomorrow, this week, and the rest of our lives…..a hope that will surely carry us through life, beyond death, and into heavenly glory.   In the words of songwriter Bill Gaither,


Because He lives I can face tomorrow.

Because He lives all fear is gone.
Because I know He holds my future,

 Now life is worth the living, just because He lives.