It was Easter Sunday for the Ibuga Christians of Western Tanzania.
In one village, a large crowd had gathered to worship.
Many came out of curiosity to hear about a God who conquered death.
While they were singing and praising God, they didn’t know the danger that awaited them.
At that moment, a crazed mother lion was stalking their village, not killing to eat, but just killing every living thing in sight.
She killed several goats, cows, and a woman with a small child. Then she turned toward the singing worshipers.
When they saw her standing ready to charge, the crowd froze in fear.
The village preacher shouted, “Pray, people, because we’re worshipping a living Lord. The God who locked the lions’ jaws for Daniel is here today!” Then he turned to the lion and said, “You lion, I curse you in the name of the living Lord Jesus Christ.”
That day had been partially cloudy, but with no storm.
Suddenly, a lightening bolt struck the lion, and she immediately fell dead!
The tribal pastor ran over, jumped up and down on the carcass, and used it as a platform for his preaching.
Before he could give an invitation, 11 people came forward immediately to be saved as did many others in the hours that followed.
They still call it the Easter miracle in Tanzania.
But, a far greater miracle had already taken place nearly 2,000 years ago.
Women, sad from the death of their leader and friend, approached his tomb in grief.
Suddenly, an angel appeared and said Jesus had arisen victorious over the devil who is like “the roaring lion” and victory over his ally, death.
Two disciples have left Jerusalem very disappointed – even devastated – that their leader and the One they had hoped was their Messiah and Saviour had died …
Luke 24:13-48 “That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, “What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?” And they stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” And he said to them, “What things?” And they said to him, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning, and when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.” And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.
So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He acted as if he were going farther, but they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent.” So he went in to stay with them. When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?” And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem. And they found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread.
As they were talking about these things, Jesus himself stood among them, and said to them, “Peace to you!” But they were startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit. And he said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. And while they still disbelieved for joy and were marvelling, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate before them.
Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”
As believers, we need to ask… ”Easter happened; so what? If it were true, what difference will it make in my life tomorrow?”
So, I want us to get a practical application of Easter.
As I read through these Scriptures … I noticed that Easter brings 4 qualities to make a difference in our lives tomorrow and every day we live as believers in the resurrection…
- 1. Peace
Luke 24:36 “As they were talking about these things, Jesus himself stood among them, and said to them, “Peace to you!”
Jesus knew they were confused and frightened.
He always understands our feelings and, at this time, the early disciples lacked peace of heart and mind …
This is the first and immediate application of Easter: Peace.
Everyone wants peace of mind.
If you’re afraid or worried, you can’t think straight and you aren’t yourself.
A lack of peace can drive people to commit terrible deeds, drive them to alcohol or drugs, or even to insanity.
Tradition tells us the fate of Governor Pilate who could have released Jesus but washed his hands of the matter.
History tells us … he died in an insane asylum trying to wash invisible blood off his hands!
But, at peace with themselves, people can stand alone against great odds.
They write songs about being able to pursue impossible dreams, climb every mountain, fly with the bluebirds beyond the rainbow! (I date myself)
Peace of mind with oneself is a wonderful gift, but peace with God is even better!
Easter also brings peace with God.
Romans 5:1 “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
As well, as believers we have the “peace of God” – supernatural peace
John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”
We can face our tomorrows with calmness, serenity, assurance, and confidence.
You will know that whatever you and God undertake will ultimately work out for your good because “… we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
Now, look at verse 41 and you’ll see an unusual statement: “While they yet disbelieved for joy…”.
The preceding verses tell us the disciples were confused and thought they were seeing a ghost.
They wanted to believe their joy; but their weak faith said, “This can’t be happening!”
Jesus let them feel him to see that he was flesh and bones, and he ate in their presence.
When Jesus settles our frustrations, peace brings it’s companion, joy.
Joy is a natural byproduct of peace when we understand the reason for our peace.
And, joy is always better than happiness.
The world wants happiness and fun.
Happiness depends on outside stimuli being right, but joy comes from inner peace.
Fun disappears when we’re sad, but we can have inner joy even in heartbreak.
When we lose a Christian loved one, we’re sad; but we have joy knowing they are with the Lord.
Jesus went through death and showed us it’s not a boxed-in canyon – it is not the end
But only the entrance way into something so much better
Jesus opened up death for us.
He beckons us to follow confidently.
In Revelation 1:18 Jesus holds the keys of death and hell; he’s unlocked death but he’s locked up hell for us.
Death is our ultimate fear; but, if it didn’t hurt Jesus, it won’t hurt us when we follow Jesus.
If we can face death unafraid, we can face anything and everything else with joy.
A third quality Easter brings is hope.
We can read this into verse 44.
If Jesus fulfilled all prophecies concerning his first coming, he’ll surely fulfill the promise of verse 49.
Luke 24:49 “And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”
That promise is the Holy Spirit.
Sure enough, Jesus has sent the Holy Spirit as promised and with the Holy Spirit comes hope
When Jesus was here in person he was limited by his physical body to once place at a time.
Now he can be with all his children all the time!
That gives us hope.
That also means all that Jesus promised will come true.
He’s promised to be with us and never leave us, to bless us, to comfort and guide us, to work all things out for our good, to protect us from evil, to answer our prayers, to come for us and take us home to live with him forever.
There we’ll hear our Heavenly Father say “Well done”.
Hope assures us we’re going to reign over all things along with Jesus!
Hope makes us not ashamed and gives us boldness.
You’ll have boldness to speak your mind and courage to make the right choices tomorrow if you’ve applied Easter’s hope today.
Easter brings peace, joy, and hope.
And, if you look at verses 47-48, you can see that Easter also brings purpose
Luke 24:47 says our purpose is to preach repentance and remission of sins to all nations beginning in our Jerusalem.
We begin by telling everyone around us the good news of Easter.
But, we don’t stop there; the ripples continue around the world through our going, praying, and giving.
Matthew 24:14 “And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”
Notice the order:
We preach repentance before we preach remission of sins.
Only the truly repentant will be forgiven.
You have to be sorry for your sins and be willing to stop those thoughts and actions that God opposes.
Then, He’ll give you the strength to change your life and He’ll remove those sins when you place them on Jesus’ cross.
And, of course, the change in our life demonstrates that we have been forgiven and become “new creatures in Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:17)
Because of Easter…
With peace, you will have confidence and assurance.
With joy, you will rejoice in whatever happens.
With hope, you can claim the Spirit’s guidance and power.
And, with purpose, you will have a reason for being where you are.
You’ll be purpose-driven to win your world for Jesus.
Your whole image – the way you dress, talk, and walk; your attitude and outlook; your reaction to people and things – everything about you will be different because you believe in Easter and the resurrection.