Summary: This is an Easter sunrise service to celebrate and remember the resurrection of Jesus from the tomb.
Northside Christian Church
April 16, 2006
John 20:1-9 (NIV)
1 Early 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.
2 So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”
3 So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb.
4 Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first.
5 He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in.
6 Then Simon Peter, who was behind him, arrived and went into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there,
7 as well as the burial cloth that had been around Jesus’ head. The cloth was folded up by itself, separate from the linen.
8 Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed.
9 (They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.)
This morning we come here to celebrate the most glorious event in history. We come to celebrate:
• our risen Lord and Christ.
• our salvation.
• forgiveness of sin.
• victory over death.
• the gift of eternal life.
That’s just a few of the things we have to celebrate because Jesus rose from the grave.
We come this morning as did those who came to the tomb early that first Easter morning. We can only imagine the joy they felt as they learned of the resurrection of Christ from the grave. Not many hours before, they mourned the grisly death of Jesus. But their mourning turned to joy on that first Easter.
If we look at the events of that first resurrection morning from all four gospel writers.
• Matthew tells about the two Marys who came early in the morning to the tomb and saw the resurrected Jesus.
• Mark adds that Salome was with the two Marys who came very early on that morning.
• Luke also tells of the visit of the women to the tomb that morning.
• John tells of Mary’s visit and of the visit of Peter and John to the tomb.
In all of these accounts, the writers record that the first thing the visitors to the tomb saw was that the huge stone covering the entrance had been rolled away.
But what if the stone still covered the entrance to the tomb that morning. What if it had not been rolled away? How would these people have felt?
Well, they might have felt like Job after his family had been killed and all he owned had been destroyed. Job reacted like many of us would. He said:
Job 14:7-12 (NIV)
7 “At least there is hope for a tree: If it is cut down, it will sprout again, and its new shoots will not fail.
8 Its roots may grow old in the ground and its stump die in the soil,
9 yet at the scent of water it will bud and put forth shoots like a plant.
10 But man dies and is laid low; he breathes his last and is no more.
11 As water disappears from the sea or a riverbed becomes parched and dry,
12 so man lies down and does not rise; till the heavens are no more, men will not awake or be roused from their sleep.
Is that all there is? Is that all we have to look forward to? To lie down and rise no more? If it is, we could utter the words of Paul:
1 Corinthians 15:19 (NIV)
19 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.
If that stone had not been rolled away, then those visitors to the tomb that morning would have been pretty miserable.
But praise God, the stone was not still in place. It was rolled away.
But a question I ask today is “Why was the stone rolled away?”
Well, now, that’s a pretty silly question you might say. The stone was rolled away because Jesus came out of the tomb. The stone was rolled away because He had risen.
But I don’t think that’s the reason the stone was rolled away. After all, look what happened later that same Sunday evening.
19 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!”