Summary: I want to tell you this morning that the suffering and anguish Jesus Christ experienced was on Friday-- we live on the Sunday-side of the cross!
"In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulcher. 2And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. 3His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow: 4And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men. 5And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. 6He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay." [Matt 28:1-6]
Wouldn’t it have been marvelous to participate in that first Easter Sunrise service? Scripture records there were few in attendance that morning. Matthew lists 3: Mary Magdalene, out of whom Christ had cast 7 evil spirits; "the other Mary", identified by Luke as the mother of James; and then there was the angel of the Lord. To this list Mark adds Salome; and Luke speaks of "... certain others .."
I have tried to imagine how these dear ladies felt on that first Easter morning. Undoubtedly they were weary and dreary due to their lack of sleep. Their hearts had been crushed by the tragedy of Calvary. Fresh in their mind was the great suffering of their Teacher, Deliverer, Healer and Friend. Life would be unbearable without the comfort of the One they loved so dearly. The awful scenes of Friday were emblazoned on their hearts.
They rose early this first Easter morning with the sad task of anointing the body of their Master for proper burial. As they approached the tomb undoubtedly fresh on their minds was His brutal treatment at the hands of the cruel Romans. They could hear the cracking of the whip; they could see the flowing of His blood; they could feel the damp, foreboding darkness that covered the earth as it convulsed at the sight of its Creator crucified; and they could smell the sweet spices used to anoint the dead. They were re-living Friday, and so shall we this morning in a message entitled "It’s Friday, But Sunday’s Coming!!" (PRAYER)
SCENE ONE OF CHRIST’S PASSION DRAMA
Unfolds as we see Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matt 26:36-56; Mark 14:32-52; Luke 22:39-53; John 18:1-11) It is about 1:00 AM on Friday morning. Inside the walls of Jerusalem, the city had begun to come to life. On this night it was common for families to sleep four hours or less so that the joy of Passover could be fully savored.
Not far outside the city walls was a deep green grove of olive trees surrounding a garden known as Gethsemane. It is in that clump of small trees on the opposite side of the Cedron that we first see the figure of a man lying prostrate on the rocks, sweating great drops of blood. We recognize this man as Jesus Christ. It is here that His final great passion begins. Come along into this garden where Christ agonized for you and me. We see Him there -- all alone. This is His time of greatest need. I see Him as he tells His friends: "My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here and watch with me". Yet His friends failed Him. He has invited His Closest disciples (Peter, James & John) to pray with Him, yet they yielded to the flesh and slept. Christ struggles -- His disciples sleep! I can see Him as he struggles alone -- aware of the weakness of His disciples. Truly "the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak".
I see Christ as He arose from prayer and walked back to the three sleeping apostles. Now, after His agony of human loneliness he reveals His God-like compassion. "Sleep on now", He said. "Take your rest". He turned to walk away and, through the foliage, He could see the many torches and lanterns of the band that was come to hasten Him to His death. He could hear the clank of metal shields and the murmur of many voices. This band was being led by the traitorous Judas Iscariot.
Jesus turned back to Peter, James and John. "The hour has struck", He said. "Look, the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinful men". They looked up at Him dumbfounded. "Rise! Let us go. Look, my betrayer is close at hand"!!
The predetermined sign employed by the traitor Judas to identify Jesus Christ was a simple kiss on His cheek. This was a common gesture of greeting in the region. Yet Jesus knew the very thoughts and intents of his heart. He looked at His betrayer with eyes of compassion and asked: "Judas, betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss?"