Summary: How one can expereince the same joy the disciples felt on the first Easter Sunday morning.
TITLE: “JOY! (Easter)”
ILLUS: A missionary had arrived in a small Chinese town. After she arrived, she soon noticed that a gang of bandits had just destroyed the little town and everything in it. Then a native Christian, showed the missionary the ruins of his home; a burnt roof and structure, and furniture, all turned to ashes. Then, what appeared to be the last straw, the native Christian pointed to his hymnbook and Bible. He said, “They even burned my Bible and hymnbook!” And from the ruins, the native picked a single page of his Chinese hymnbook, the only thing to escape the flames! The missionary took up the piece of paper and it read “Joy to the world, the Lord is come!” What an apparent mockery, a note of joy in the midst of total destruction. But the missionary went on to say, that if you could have gone to the little chapel and seen the light on the faces of those native Christians, that evening. Those who had lost nearly everything were speaking of the home that Jesus has prepared for those who love Him. “Yes”, the missionary claimed, “There is joy to the world, but only because the Lord is come!”
The natives of the small Chinese town truly displayed the type of joy that I want to discuss tonight.
I believe that most of us are somewhat aware that Jesus Christ is a source of joy, while there are those who would debate whether He is the ultimate source of joy. But by studying the passages read earlier tonight, I believe we can easily come to the realization that True joy found in Jesus Christ is ours for the asking.
I would like to discuss three truths concerning joy that not only occurred in the lives of Jesus’ followers, but also happens in our lives today. First, is ....
MAIN POINT #1: “The Revelling in Joy”
John 12: 13 “They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting ‘Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the King of Israel!’”
In reading through the Gospels, we get a sense of joy building to a climax. Jesus started His ministry calling ordinary individuals to Himself and His ministry. Chosen followers sat under the ministry of this man - Jesus Christ. They have shared moments of laughter together. They shared moments of sorrow together. They ate together, slept together, and had fellowship together.
Jesus’ followers have seen Jesus cast out demons, heal the sick, restore sight to the blind, restore hearing to the deaf, and restore hope to the hopeless. Some followers even seen the transfiguration, where Jesus was glorified before their very eyes. They have even witnessed the impossible with their own eyes. They have seen Jesus raise people from the dead - Lazarus. Jesus had constantly taught His disciples and followers that He was indeed the Son of God. So based on what the followers heard and seen, at this point, I believe they were convinced that Jesus Christ was the true Messiah.
At the scripture portion, where Jesus makes His triumphal entry, His followers are experiencing their ultimate peak of joy. You see, their ‘master’ whom they loved and served faithfully for three years is now getting His so-called ‘recognition’ that has been long overdue.
They thought Jesus was entering Jerusalem to claim His Messiahship and become the Messianic ruler in Jerusalem. I can picture Jesus entering Jerusalem with the crowds shouting in excitement and waving their palm branches almost in a state of estacy. Jesus’ followers were witnessing for the first time large crowds accepting Jesus their master, as the spiritual/political leader of the Jews, with the exception of the Sanhedrin.
At this point, I do not believe that the followers of Christ could of been any more filled with joy, than is evident in this passage. They were ecstatic because the crowds were exalting Jesus Christ like never before.
Can you relate to the amount of joy that Jesus’ disciples must have been feeling that day (whether you’re a Christian or not)?
The second truth which we can all equally relate to, which
MAIN POINT #2: “The Removal of Joy”
Matthew 27: 65,66 “‘Take a guard’, Pilate answered. ‘Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how.’ So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting a guard.”
Christ’s followers have taken a ride on a emotional roller-coaster in the matter of hours. They went from a peak of joy, to where their joy had been crushed (taken away from them). Life fell from in under their feet and apparently there wasn’t too much, they could do about it.
In my own mind, I am trying to re-capture how the disciples must have been feeling at this point. Their leader/master was quickly taken from them, and they were left as abandoned orphans with no one or nowhere to turn to. Their master was brutally murdered for His beliefs by the Jews. Now they must have been afraid and lonely, wondering what their fate would be; if the Jews would come after them as well. Not only were they concerned with what would happen to them, but also their fellow-believers, their own families, and what would even happen to their faith in Jesus Christ.