Summary: Now that you have seen His passion let me tell you about His purpose.
1Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark,Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. (John 20:1)
1What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 2By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? 3Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.
5If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. 6For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin—7because anyone who has died has been freed from sin. (Romans 6:1-7)
What if the next Mel Gibson movie from Hollywood was The Resurrection of The Christ? Could there be a greater story of victory and triumph? The movie could include scenes about Jesus restoring Peter and preaching to the 500. Who would not want to see His encounter with Thomas and the strengthening of his faith? It could end with the giving of the Great Commission and Jesus’ ascension.
What really excites me is not just the movie but imagine how people would leave the theatre. After The Passion of the Christ they left sobbing, somber, and shaken up. The sequel, The Resurrection of The Christ, would cause people to stand and applaud for five minutes as the credits were rolling. The shouting of victory would be heard in near-by theatres, disrupting concentration. Could there be a bigger surprise than the amazing news, “He is Risen Indeed!”?
Who Will You Follow This Easter?
Each day the young pastor stopped at a deli-market for fruit juice on the way to work. Each day, with kindness in his voice, he greeted the man behind the counter, a middle-eastern man with Islamic beliefs. On many occasions the young pastor shared his faith in Jesus Christ with the man behind the counter. The relationship was nurtured with love and consistency. The Islamic man could not understand why the young pastor’s God would be willing to suffer. There was no place for such an ideology in his belief system. Then The Passion of The Christ rolled into town.
Seizing the opportunity, the young pastor encouraged his middle-eastern friend to view the film. He did. A few days later the ritual was rehearsed for the dozenth time: A drive to work in Redmond and a stop at the deli for fruit juice. As the pastor navigated to the counter he noticed something different about the store employee; huge tears were streaming down his face. “Did you see the movie?” he asked. Pausing for a second, the middle-eastern man caught his composure and said, “Jesus is The Man!”
Brock Huard, former quarterback for the Washington Huskies, Seattle Seahawks, and Indianapolis Colts, feels the same way. This is one of the strongest quarterbacks in the NFL declaring his faith in Jesus Christ at a men’s event in our church. With strained voice he referred to The Passion of The Christ by saying, “I want to be like that man!”
The simple fact is this: there is something incredible, therapeutic, reassuring, and cleansing about Easter morning. There is nothing that Easter is unable to provide for. We pick up our story on a dark Sunday morning. John 28:1 says, “It was still dark…” It has been dark since Friday night.
Dark because disciples are struggling for places to hide.
Dark because the Savior’s prophetic word is about to come true; Peter will deny Him.
Dark because the Sanhedrin doesn’t realize that it is only a bit player in an evil plan.
Dark because Satan’s subtle hissings are being executed by the least suspecting.
Remember, it is still dark - early in the morning between 4:00am and 6:00am. A fresh set of footprints make their way to the tomb. They follow footprints of Roman soldiers who just a few hours earlier strolled to the tomb as the body was prepared for burial.
Mary and Mary, oh how their lives have been touched by Jesus. Now they go to minister to a lifeless Savior who has nothing to offer. They are unaware of what waits at the end of the path. An earthquake is generating seismic activity just below the surface. An angel is winging his way toward earth. An empty tomb lies just ahead. The first Easter is about to begin.(1)
Mary and Mary experience shock because they encounter something they were not looking for. Surprises come in many shapes and sizes. They enhance birthday parties and anniversaries. Kids love them at Christmas. Parents expect them, (Hey mom, I’m going to marry you some day). Teachers use them, (Take out a clean sheet of paper for a pop quiz), and politicians diffuse them, (Did you inhale?). We love them. We hate them: