Summary: After Friday nobody expected what would happen on Sunday
Nobody had expected this.
It was only two days ago that the people of Jerusalem had watched as Jesus had been crucified as a heretic and a traitor to Rome.
For three years Jesus had travelled throughout Israel. Preaching, teaching, healing the sick and feeding the hungry. He had quieted storms and cast out demons. During that time, he had won the hearts of the people and alienated the religious leaders of the day.
And if there had been those present the previous Friday afternoon who were inclined to wager, they would have bet on Jesus being the loser.
After all they had watched him being beaten, they had watched as the crown of thorns had been pushed into his head and they watched as he was nailed to a cross and hung in the sun to die.
He was dead, and this was completely unexpected. They not only heard that he had died, they had seen him die.
When John listed those who stood closest to the cross at Jesus death this was his list, John 19:25 Standing near the cross were Jesus’ mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary (the wife of Clopas), and Mary Magdalene.
And if we read Luke’s account we read what happened next, Luke 23:55-56 & 24:1-3As his body was taken away, the women from Galilee followed and saw the tomb where his body was placed. Then they went home and prepared spices and ointments to anoint his body. But by the time they were finished the Sabbath had begun, so they rested as required by the law. But very early on Sunday morning the women went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. They found that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance. So they went in, but they didn’t find the body of the Lord Jesus.
Who were these women who went to the tomb? Well according to the other gospel accounts we know for sure that Mary Magdalene, Mary the wife of Clopas and Salome the mother of James and John.
And they went to the grave expecting to find the body of their friend which they intended to prepare for embalming, instead they found an empty grave occupied only by empty burial shroud.
And so, on that Sunday morning so many years ago victory was snatched away from the enemy. And tears of sorrow became tears of joy.
And so, a weekend that began in an unexpected way on Friday had An Unexpected Ending on Sunday.
Songs: In Christ Alone
Christ is Risen
Well they weren’t expecting that on Friday. On Friday the hopes and dreams of the apostles had been dashed. Because when they saw Jesus die, those hopes, and dreams died with him.
They had been expecting something else on Friday, perhaps the people rising up to defend Jesus, or a flash of lightening that levelled the Romans or maybe, maybe an army of angels descending out of the clouds to rescue God’s son just in the nick of time. But none of those things happened
Instead they watched as Jesus had been humiliated and beaten and ultimately he had died. And if Jesus could die then everything he said about being the Son of God, every promise he made about eternal life, every claim he made about forgiving people all of those things died with him and were all proven wrong.
It would be years before Paul would write to the Corinthian church, but I’m sure on the Saturday following Jesus death that these words were on the minds and weighing down the hearts and souls of the Apostles. 1 Corinthians 15:17-19 And if Christ has not been raised, then your faith is useless and you are still guilty of your sins. In that case, all who have died believing in Christ are lost! And if our hope in Christ is only for this life, we are more to be pitied than anyone in the world.
But listen again to Matthew’s account of the resurrection story, Matthew 28:1-7 Early on Sunday morning, as the new day was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went out to visit the tomb. Suddenly there was a great earthquake! For an angel of the Lord came down from heaven, rolled aside the stone, and sat on it. His face shone like lightning, and his clothing was as white as snow. The guards shook with fear when they saw him, and they fell into a dead faint. Then the angel spoke to the women. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead, just as he said would happen. Come, see where his body was lying. And now, go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and he is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there. Remember what I have told you.”