Sermon 4-7-2013

Second Sunday of Easter –April 7, 2013
I Corinthians 15:51-57
Pastor Don Ninmer
 
“Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed – in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: Death has been swallowed up in victory.  Where, O death is your victory?  Where, O death is your sting?  The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.  But thanks be to God!  He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (I Corinthians 15:51-57)
 
We always had candy, lots of candy at Christmas time.  We seldom had candy the rest of the year, but we always had candy at Christmas time.  Somehow my mother saved enough money to buy us one or two Christmas presents and still had enough money left over for candy.  We always had candy for Christmas:  Angel food, chocolate covered peanuts, chocolate mint wafers, chocolate gum drops, in addition to bowls full of nuts, peanuts, walnuts, hazel nuts and almonds.  But we always had lots of candy at Christmas.
 
We always had lots of candy at Easter too.  In fact these were the only two times of the year that we had candy.  The candy at Easter was different.  There were marshmallow eggs which were big enough to see.  There were Brach’s eggs that were wrapped in a foil wrapping.  There were chocolate eggs and rabbits that were solid chocolate. And of course there were always jelly beans.  We always had lots of candy at Easter.
 
Why did we have candy at Christmas time and Easter time, when the rest of the year was pretty much candy-less?  Oh, we may have had some of those little hearts with printing on them at Valentines Day, but nothing like the candy at Christmas and Easter.  Why did we always have candy at Christmas time and Easter time?  There had to be a more important reason than that my Dad just loved candy. There had to be another reason.  It had to be that these two days were the most important days in our lives.
 
Ash Wednesday, Maundy Thursday and Good Friday are important days too.  But we never had candy on those days.  Those were days of mourning and repentance.  We would not want to fill ourselves with the sweet delicacy of chocolate. But we always had candy on Easter.  Why is that?
 
We all know the answer to that.  And just in case we may have forgotten, the Apostle Paul in our text for today reminds us why Easter Sunday and the season of Easter is such a great time of joy and celebration. Yes, it is a celebration of our Lord’s resurrection from the dead.  But it is more than that.  It is a day that affects our whole life on this earth, and what is more important than that, it affects our eternity.
 
What is going to happen to us when we die?  What is going to happen to us on Judgment Day?  Paul gives us the answers to these questions.  And that is why we always had candy at Easter.
 
I have some bad news for you this on this Second Sunday of Easter.  That news is that all of us are going to die some day, unless of course Judgment Day comes first. Paul uses certain words as a gentle reminder of this.  He says that we are “perishable.” He says that we are “mortal.” He talks about the “sting of death.” As we hear these words, perishable, mortal, and sting of death, it does not scare us.  We know that when we die, our souls will be with the Lord.  Isn’t that what Jesus told the thief on the cross when He said: Today  you will be with me in paradise?
 
But we also know that our bodies will live again.  He says: In a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. Our bodies will be changed.  Paul said:  For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. We are told that our bodies will be like the body of Jesus.
 
What change will take place?  For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. The definition of perishable is:  liable to spoil or decay (such as perishable products as fruit, vegetables, butter and eggs.)  To that we would add, the human body because of sin.  The definition of mortal is: subject to death, not immortal.
 
Do you understand what Paul is saying?  Our mortal bodies will be changed.  Our perishable bodies will be changed.  We will all be changed – in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. Our bodies will no longer be mortal.  They will no longer be perishable.   The perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality.
 
Paul adds:  Then the saying that is written will come true:  Death has been swallowed up in victory.  Where, O death is your victory?  Where, O death, is your sting?  For those who believe in Jesus, the sting of death is gone.  The soul continues to live forever.  The body, changed and free from sin, will also live forever with the soul in God’s kingdom of heaven.
 
What does this have to do with candy for Easter?  The fact that we will live forever goes back to Easter. It is based on Easter and supported by the Easter message, He is risen!  It is reinforced by the words of Jesus, Because I live, you also will live.
 
That is why we have candy at Easter.  It reminds us that Christ is risen. He is risen indeed.  It tells us that we have His assurance of our resurrection.  It tells us that we will never experience the bitterness of hell which Jesus did.  It tells us that we will enjoy the sweetness of God’s kingdom of heaven with Jesus. That is why we have candy at Easter.