Summary: This is the fourth in a series but can be used stand alone. It looks at the bright new morning that dawns to dispel the shadows of the cross. A stone rolled away, a tomb standing empty, and a promise fulfilled.
Shadows of the Cross Pt 4
From the Shadows a New Day Dawns
It was early dawn – the sun not yet above eastern horizon. Three women make their way quietly toward the tomb of Jesus. As they make their way down the road their eyes might have been called again to a hilltop called Golgotha “The place of the skull”. There on that hill three crosses still stand. The Sabbath is just ending so no one has yet taken them down. As they see the hill bathed in the long shadows of the predawn morning their minds must have made the journey through those three long days spent in the shadows of the cross. From the dark shadows of Gethsemane’s brokenness, to the even deeper shadows of death cast by the cross under a Sun that hid it’s face, now to the shadows of a Tomb where lay all their hopes and dreams.
With each step the shadows seemed more ominous. Those three crosses standing on the Hill a stark reminder of pain and death not only of Jesus but of Hope itself. Who will move the stone they ask each other? How can we finish the job of burying Him? What will we do next? As with all of us for these women it was darkest just before the dawn. But friends at the moment when darkness and shadows seemed to have won – a new day dawns. The Sun peeks over the horizon – It’s light penetrating the shadows – night becomes day – shadows begin to receed – and hope is reborn.
In the light of a New Day these women find…
1) A Stone rolled Away v2– This stone holds one of the most wonderful promises of Easter. Who will roll the stone away from the tomb for us? They have good reason to be concerned – the stone that was placed in front of the tomb was a large boulder – probably weighing upwards of two ton. Not only that, the Romans had sealed it, so no one was allowed to move it without their permission. These women were on a mission – and it was truly mission impossible. They weren’t strong enough to move the stone – they had no authority to move the stone or to order it moved. They simply had a heart to minister to their friend. But when they arrived – the stone was already moved. One of the greatest promises of Easter is that no stone is too big for God to move. For these women they were facing larger obstacles than just a rock – they faced doubt, fear, frustration, pain, grief, and innumerable other things. All the things they faced were too big for them. But not too big for God. That’s true for us today as well – there is no stone in your life too big for God to move. As we face stones of sin, frustration, doubt, fear, financial health or emotional crisis, it doesn’t matter no stone is too large for Him to move. The stone was rolled away - Not so that Jesus could get out- He was in His resurrected body- He needed no open door to walk through- He walked into the room with the disciples through a locked door. No the tomb stood open so that we could look in - As proof that no body lay there. The great invitation of the angles to the women was “come and see” look where He was – He isn’t there anymore. He’s alive. This risen Savior is still in the stone moving business.
2) A Tomb Standing Empty v6 – In this empty tomb we find the power of our faith. Paul said it this way “if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied.” Louis Cassals wrote If you are irrevocably committed to the proposition that it would have been impossible for Christ to triumph over death, you may as well quit fiddling around the fringes of Christianity, because, as Paul bluntly said, the whole thing stands or falls on the fact of the Resurrection. Either it happened, or it didn’t, and if it didn’t, Christianity is a gigantic fraud, and the sooner we are quit of it, the better. The tomb stands empty as a testimony to the fact of His being the Christ. Look to all the so-called saviors of the world; Buddha, Mohammed, Moon. Look at the prophets and leaders of religion. Look at the atheists, the Stalinists, the Humanist, and the even the cultist. For each one you will find a grave – a dead body – a dead religion. But our faith is different – we serve the one – the only one – who laid down His life and had the authority to take it up again. The one who is the risen and living Savior of the world – not because He said it but because He proved it.