Summary: Sermon for Easter Sunrise Service
As I’m sure Ryan could attest, I think most pastors get more stressed out about their messages at Christmas and Easter than any other Sunday all year. Perhaps much of that added stress is self-induced since we feel the need to come up with some new approach or some innovative way to share the familiar accounts of Jesus’ birth and His resurrection.
I’m reminded of a young pastor who was going to be preaching his first Easter sermon and he wanted to make sure that he had a memorable introduction to get everyone’s attention. So he we to an older pastor he knew and asked him if he had any surefire introduction that was guaranteed to capture everyone’s attention.
The old preacher said, "Ss a matter of fact I have an illustration that works every single time." He said, "When you walk to the pulpit, make this statement: 'Some of the greatest days of my life I spent in the arms of another man's wife.'" He said, "Wait for a moment, and then say, 'My mother.'" He added, "Don't forget to pause before you say, 'My mother.'" And he also told the young pastor, "Incidentally, don't forget to tell your wife what you are going to do."
Well, Easter Sunday arrived, and as this young inexperienced preacher walked to the pulpit he had two problems. First of all, he was extremely nervous; secondly, he had forgotten to tell his wife what he was going to say. So he cleared his throat and said, "Some of the greatest days of my life, I spent in the arms of another man's wife." He waited for a moment and his wife, who happened to be a hot-tempered lady, got up out of her seat and stormed toward the pulpit. That so unnerved him he stammered and stuttered and said, "And for the life of me, I can't remember who she was."
This morning, I want to talk for just a few minutes on the importance of remembering when it comes to the resurrection of Jesus.
I know that many of you come here this morning with some burdens in your life. Some of you are grieving over the loss of someone that you were close to. Some of you are dealing was a serious illness or physical condition either personally or for someone that you love. Some of you have financial problems and you’re living under a pile of debt and just barely making it. Some of you hate going to work each day because frankly you just don’t like your job. Some of you are struggling in your marriages or with other relationships. Some of you have kids who have rebelled against God in spite of your best efforts to raise them according to Biblical principles. For some of you, your relationship with God is going through a dry spell and you just don’t feel very close to Him anymore. And if you’re not going through something like that right now, it is nearly a certainty that you’re going to encounter the same or similar problems in your life at some point, maybe even much sooner than you might imagine. And when we experience those kinds of circumstances in our lives and we can’t see a way out, it’s really easy to lose hope.
That was certainly true of a group of women who went to the grave of Jesus that first Easter morning. On Friday afternoon, they had watched the crucifixion of Jesus from a distance. They had followed Jesus for several years, providing what they could to sustain Him financially as He ministered to others. They had watched Him heal people and listened to Him teach about the kingdom of God and eventually came to believe that He was in fact, the Messiah they had waited for their entire lives. But as they observed Joseph take the lifeless, bloodied and disfigured body of Jesus down from the cross and wrap it in a linen shroud and place it in the tomb their hopes had been dashed.
So the women did the only thing they knew to do. Because the Sabbath was approaching quickly, they went back home and prepared the spices and ointments with which they would return to the grave to properly prepare the body for burial. But because the Sabbath was about to begin, they would have to wait until Sunday morning to return to the tomb to carry out that somber responsibility.
On Sunday morning, these women, who included Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary, the Mother of James, made their way to the tomb. There probably wasn’t much conversation on the way there. Their hearts were just too heavy for that. They couldn’t have been looking forward to the task that awaited them at the tomb.