Summary: An Easter Sermon comparing the feelings of Christ's followers at the time of the Crucifixion, and the similarities we have today, and lessons to be learnt.
Light In Dark Times
Mark 16:2 And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulcher at the rising of the sun.
"And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulcher at the rising of the sun..." (Mark 16:2)
There is a great contrast between light and darkness in the Easter story. Remember how God shut down the sun in midday as Jesus hung upon the cross? There was total darkness from noon till around 3:00 in the afternoon. At the crucifixion, God brought darkness in times of light. On resurrection morning, God brought light in times of darkness. I don't believe it is circumstantial that the women arrived at the sepulcher just at the dawn. Let us examine how the resurrection brought light out of darkness, and how these truths still today can bring blessing and power to God's people in times of darkness and suffering.
1. It Was a Time of Unexpected Death
We know the "rest of the story." We know that Jesus resurrected from the grave. Having not experienced it firsthand, we may easily forget that a traumatic event had just occurred in the lives of the disciples. Jesus had been crucified! They had walked with Him, ate with Him, slept beside Him! They had watched Him heal the sick and raise the dead. Jesus had spent quality time with each of the disciples and they had loved Him greatly. They had lived with this Man for 3 1/2 years and now He had been publicly executed before the whole nation of Israel. What a dark time!
Luke 23:27 tells us that some of His disciples had been present at His death, And there followed him a great company of people, and of women, which also bewailed and lamented him. Also in John 19:25-27, Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son! Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home. Most of the disciples had probably fled, unable to watch their Master and Friend die
Which of us have not endured the pain and suffering, some may be so fortunate as to have never experienced it. It is impossible to escape the darkness of death in this life. Many have walked through that dark valley!
Christ's Resurrection Conquers All Death!
Though death is following us closely in this life, it will be banished in the next! 1 Cor. 15:54-55 54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorrupt- tion, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The women and disciples who came to that empty tomb did not realize that death itself had been defeated at that very spot and that, one day, there would be no more death.
2. It Was a Time of Unforeseen Defeat
I am reminded of James and John, the sons of thunder. How tall they stood when standing by Christ! They were unbeatable, unstoppable. (Luke 9:54) And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did? James and John knew a winner when they saw one. Jesus was the answer to their life search; He was the One who met all their needs. There was no doubt in their minds that He would restore the kingdom and reign as King. Their mother came to Jesus with a proposition, Grant that these my two sons may sit, the one on thy right hand, and the other on the left, in thy kingdom. (Mat. 20:21) What an honor just to be on the same side as the Messiah! But with every seeming victory, there is the flip side of defeat. The victories of the past melted into humiliating defeat as Jesus died.
How James and John parallels our lives. We have our times of victory when it seems that nothing can go wrong. But in other times, defeat is our constant companion. Paul said, ...I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ. (Phil. 3:8) Paul's defeats in physical areas assured victory in the spiritual. We suffer loss in this life, but God assures us that our defeats are for His glory.