Summary: It's hard not to use superlatives when discussing the Easter story. In this story we see...1) the darkest hour in all scripture; 2) the biggest discovery in all scripture; and 3) the loveliest word in all scripture (for one of it's characters).
Superlatives of the Easter Story
April 20, 2014
(A PowerPoint presentation is available for this sermon upon request at firstname.lastname@example.org).
TEXT: Please turn in your Bibles to John 20.
Illus. – A little boy had a tendency to exaggerate things in order to get attention, which his mom was earnestly trying to break him of because it really is a subtle form of lying.
One day he was playing outside and suddenly burst into the house yelling, “Mommy, I just saw a big, ferocious bear that just about ate me alive.”
His mom said, “Now Tommy, you know that wasn’t a bear. It was just a big dog and you know it because I saw it. Now you march upstairs this very minute and you talk to the Lord about your exaggerating and lying and ask Him to forgive you.”
Reluctantly he went upstairs and when he came back down about ten minutes later, she asked, “Did the Lord forgive you for your exaggerating?”
He said, “Yeah. He told not to worry about it though, because He said the first time He saw it, He thought it was a bear too.”
It’s one thing to exaggerate like Tommy…but how would you express yourself if your story were TRUE and it happened to be the most stunning, most significant event in history? The only words that would do it justice would be to describe it using “superlatives.”
If your English teacher were here this morning (thank God she isn’t!), she would remind you that a superlative is “an expression of the highest degree of something.”
If I say my wife’s pie is tasty, well, I’m using NORMAL EVERYDAY SPEECH. But if I say, “Honey, that’s the greatest, most delicious, most delectable pie that man ever sunk his teeth into,”…I’m using SUPERLATIVES.
The title of my message is, “Superlatives of the Easter Story” because it’s hard NOT to think in superlative terms when talking about the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Let’s look at three “Superlatives of the Resurrection Story” this morning as we try to contemplate the magnificent meaning of the resurrection:
I. NOTE WITH ME FIRST OF ALL, THE DARKEST HOUR OF ALL SCRIPTURE – John 20:1-2 – “The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre [i.e., tomb], and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre. 2 Then she runneth, and cometh to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and saith unto them, They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre, and we know not where they have laid him.”
It’s hard to describe how dark this hour was for Christ’s disciples. Though Jesus had tried to prepare them for His death, they had been deaf to His words. To the day of His death, the disciples saw Jesus as Messiah—but only in one way—that of the King who would RULE, not the SUFFERING Savior, both themes of which are found in the Old Testament prophecies concerning the Messiah. They heard only what they wanted to hear and tuned out what they didn’t.
So when Jesus was crucified, the disciples were devastated and disillusioned. They were also in great DANGER, and this produced a horrible sense of DEFEAT. They were truly experiencing THE DARKEST HOUR OF THEIR LIVES.
What makes a dark hour dark?
• First of all, SUFFERING WITHOUT A PURPOSE.
Their experience seemed to have no rhyme or purpose. Sometimes when WE suffer, we feel the same way. It’s hard to fathom God’s purposes—why He lets certain things happen to us.
• Second, what makes a dark hour dark is BETRAYAL WITHOUT A REASON.
The disciples apparently had no suspicion of Judas’s dark, treacherous heart. He had not only betrayed JESUS, but he had betrayed THEM ALL. And there seemed to be no REASON for it! What had Jesus or the disciples ever done against Judas?
How many of us have experienced the same thing—trusting someone, only to be stabbed in the back by a traitor without having done anything to prompt it?
• The third thing that makes a dark hour dark is FEAR WITHOUT PROTECTION.
The disciples were in great danger, but from their point of view, with JESUS gone, they had no protection, which only increased their fear.
Have you ever felt vulnerable like that?…You knew what was coming down, and no matter what you might do, you were helpless to shape the events about to unfold.
That’s what the disciples felt like.
• Fourth: DEFEAT WITHOUT HOPE makes a dark hour dark.
There was no hope at this point from their perspective. The cause for which they had labored by Jesus’s side for three long years had gone down the drain as far as they could see.