Today is Easter Sunday, Resurrection Sunday, the annual celebration of what we mark every Sunday, every Lord’s Day, and if we truly know Jesus, it is a reality that is ours every day of the year.
It is good to remember the resurrection and to celebrate, but we really must be careful not to mistake respectable religious forms for true, evangelical Easter joy. It is still relatively respectable to go to church on Easter Sunday. It is respectable to have big dinners, to buy new dresses, to give gifts, to hunt for Easter eggs. You can even put a Bible verse on a Hallmark card or invite a friend to church, and that is still considered respectable. But that is not necessarily the same thing as knowing Christ and the power of His resurrection.
To know Christ and the power of His resurrection is to know the joy of forgiveness, to know the joy of fellowship with God and those around you, to know the joy of confessing sins and making things right as quickly as possible, to know the joy of obedience, the joy of suffering reproach and slander and hatred for loyalty to Jesus.
Do you have that joy? Do not say, well, I’m in church aren’t I? Yes, very good, you are in church, but are you in Christ? Another way to ask the same question is: Are you rich in Christ? Knowing Christ means that you have come into unspeakable wealth, and now you find that you have love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, goodness, and self-control sloshing out of you at every turn. And the more you confess your sins and forgive and obey, the more you have to give.
So as you worship today, do not look at the songs, at the people, at the sermon, or at the table. You will not find joy in any of these things in themselves. They are all signs pointing to our Joy, pointing to the One who is our Joy. They are windows for you to look through. But if you came here to do something respectable on Easter, I’m afraid you’ve come to the wrong place. We are not here to do respectable religious things. We are here because a man named Jesus rose from the dead, and we have met Him. He is alive and He is here with us by His Spirit. He has forgiven us all our sins. And we are here to praise Him with all that we are.