Summary: A Sunrise Service Sermonette focusing on all four gospels and witness perspectives encouraging listeners to be a witness for Jesus Christ.
A MATTER OF PERSPECTIVE
I would like you to imagine standing at a busy street corner. You are standing on one corner waiting to cross. At each of the other corners of the busy intersection stand other pedestrians waiting to cross. Cars are whizzing past. The light changes to red. Cars continue to whizz past. The light is red! You hear screeching tires in the intersection and you look. You see one car smash into another. You hear the mangling of metal and the crashing of glass. People are yelling and pointing. Cars are honking. It is chaos.
You see all of the people get out of their cars and each of them are on their cell phones. You hear sirens in the background and know that emergency services are already on their way. You run into the intersection to make sure everyone is ok. No one is hurt. The fire truck, police cruiser, and ambulance arrive in no time and assess the scene.
A police officer comes up to you as you stand there and asks if you saw what happened. You of course point to where you were standing on the corner and answer yes. He points to a small group of people off to the side and asks you to join them. You are in the crowd of witnesses.
The police officer walks up to the group and asks a simple question: “What happened?”
I hope you realize that your perspective from your street corner will be unique. Yes you saw what happened, but what you saw may differ slightly from the person who was on the opposite side of the street. There was an accident. No doubt about it. Yet as people witnessed it, depending on their vantage point, their details may differ slightly. It is the job of the police officer to investigate each of the witnesses and piece together what happened based on the witness accounts. Only by getting all of the perspectives can the investigating officer put together the whole picture.
So, there are two basic truths then when it comes to something like this. First, witnesses are necessary to help make an event valid. Witnesses corroborate a story and attest to the truthfulness or false aspect of a statement or event. Witnesses make things true… especially in a court of law. Second, the more witnesses the better for it is when piecing together all witness statements that a whole view of an event can be reconstructed.
What does this have to do with Easter?
Jesus physically rose from the dead on Easter morning. There were witnesses. The witnesses recorded their recollections and perspectives in four Gospel Books: Matthew 28, Mark 16, Luke 24, and John 20. Jesus did in fact rise from the dead and there are witnesses to prove it. I can imagine the feelings and chaos that ensued when the body of Jesus was discovered missing. Most of the time when it comes to the Easter story, I pick a Gospel and focus on it. I study it and reintroduce myself to the facts of the Gospel message about Jesus’ bodily resurrection from the dead. This year though, I wanted to look at all of them all at the same time. You can do this in certain parallel books that are out there, but I wanted to read all the accounts in one. I wanted to read all the witnesses at the same time and get a full view of what happened that resurrection morning. So I did it myself. I read all four Gospel accounts and pieced each one together adding all the details that each of the Gospels report about the resurrection of Jesus. It does not change what I believe about the resurrection because I know it to be a true event attested to by witnesses, but it writing this out has helped me gain the whole perspective of what happened early in the morning on that first Easter.
I would like to share my small project with you this morning. I will read to you from Matthew 28, Mark 16, Luke 24, and John 20 all at the same time giving us a complete picture of Jesus’ resurrection.
SCRIPTURES (cut and pasted together from all 4 Gospels)
After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, Joanna, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus' body and went to look at the tomb. Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb and they asked each other, "Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?"
At that time there was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.