Summary: Sermonette for Easter Sunrise Service using the hymn "Christ Arose"
The hymn we just sung, I must admit, is one of my favorites. It was written in 1874 by Robert Lowry who also wrote “I Need thee Every Hour”, “Nothing but the Blood”, and “Shall we Gather at the River.” Robert Lowry was a Baptist minister for 51 years who lived and ministered with churches in Pennsylvania, New York, and New Jersey. His hymn focuses us on the promise of Easter Morning and the meaning that Easter Morning brings.
Verse 1: Low in the grave He lay, Jesus my Savior, Waiting the coming day, Jesus my Lord!
As we begin to look at these verses, I cannot help but note that over and over in the three verses of the song; Jesus is referred to as “Savior” and “Lord.”
1) Why is Jesus called “Savior?”
a) Because it is Jesus that provides forgiveness and salvation from our sins. Titus 3:4-7 tells us plainly, “But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.”
2) Why is Jesus called “Lord?”
a) Because in John 13:13 Jesus says, “You call Me ’Teacher’ and ‘Lord’, and rightly so, for that is what I am.”
Being “Lord” is Jesus’ identity.
Being Lord means He is the Son of God.
Being Lord means He has all things under His power.
It was this “Savior” and “Lord” that was crucified on Friday and now lay low in the grave… waiting for the coming day when He would rise from the dead.
Verse 2: Vainly they watch His bed, Jesus my Savior; Vainly they seal the dead, Jesus my Lord!
The verse speaks of two things that “vainly” happened while Jesus was in the tomb. Both of these refer to the Roman guards and religious leaders that wanted Him dead and got their wish.
1) The religious leaders and guards vainly watched the tomb to make nothing was amiss. The plain fact was… Jesus was dead. They had killed Him on purpose and now He was dead. The disciples fled. No one would come to take His body or do anything… Jesus was dead.
2) The religious leaders and guards also sealed the tomb in vain. We know that once Jesus rose from the dead, nothing would keep Him inside. Jesus would come out of the tomb and it would be earth-shaking… both literally and figuratively. Matthew 28:1-4 tells us, “After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. 2 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. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. 4 The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.”
Verse 3: Death cannot keep its Prey, Jesus my Savior; He tore the bars away, Jesus my Lord!
Verse three tells us of the victory that Jesus, our Lord and Savior, won that Easter Morning.
1) Victory over death. We now have nothing to fear the hour we take our last breath, Jesus has already been there and prepared a place for us. Romans 8:2 says, “Because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.” 1 Corinthians 15:56-57 tells us, “The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
2) Victory over eternal prison for us. Romans 6:23 promises us, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
And so because of all these wonderful truths in Scripture, put forth as poetry in this hymn, we can sing the chorus with strength of heart and hope in our spirits.
Up from the grave He arose, With a mighty triumph o’er His foes, He arose a Victor from the dark domain, And He lives forever, with His saints to reign. He arose! He arose! Hallelujah! Christ arose!