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Summary: For the unfaithful it is the worst of times. For the faitfhul it is the best of tiems.

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LIVING IN THE BEST AND WORST OF TIMES

INTRODUCTION:

One of the most powerful paragraphs in all of literature is found in the Dickens masterpiece, A Tale of Two Cities. Surely, you’ve heard it before,

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way”

DISCUSSION:

When Jesus began his final week on earth it appeared to the people around him that it was truly the best of times. As Jesus entered to city of Jerusalem the disciples would never have guessed what was coming at the end of the week.

Thousands of men women and children lined the streets to welcome him. “They brought the donkey and the colt, laid their clothes on them, and set Him on them. And a very great multitude spread their clothes on the road; others cut down branches from the trees and spread them on the road. Then the multitudes who went before and those who followed cried out, saying: "Hosanna to the Son of David! ’Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!’ Hosanna in the highest!" (Mat 21:7-9)

It was the best of Times!

As the week progressed the crowds saw Jesus work amazing miracles and flummox and confuse the so-called religious experts. It was the best of times!

They came together to eat the Passover and Jesus told them that one of the 12 would betray him. He was taken sectretly, falsely accused, humiliated, beaten and, crucified. As his mother Mary and a few of his friends watched him breathe his last, it seemed to be the worst of times!

Later that day, they tearfully placed his body in the tomb. It was surely the worst of times!

Overwhelmed with doubt, discouragement and despair, their faith had disintegrated and the disciples were dispersing. Surely it was the worst of times!

Only a few remained in Jerusalem on that fateful Sunday morning. Several women were on the way to the tomb to finalize the burial rituals and see the body of the one they loved so dearly for one last heart wrenching time. The 11 remaing apostles were cowering behind locked doors trying to decide what next. Surely, it was the worst of days!

But then, “there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat on it. His countenance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow. And the guards shook for fear of him, and became like dead men. But the angel answered and said to the women, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. "He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. "And go quickly and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead, and indeed He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him. Behold, I have told you." So they went out quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to bring His disciples word. And as they went to tell His disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, "Rejoice!" So they came and held Him by the feet and worshiped Him. Then Jesus said to them, "Do not be afraid. Go and tell My brethren to go to Galilee, and there they will see Me" (Mat 28:2-10) .

For the soldiers and those who had plotted to keep Jesus in the grave, it was the worst of times. For Mary and Martha it was a good day it was a very good day. But, the 11, will still cowering behind locked doors unable to believe the women’s report, it was the worst of times.

Then Jesus, “appeared to the eleven as they sat at the table; and He rebuked their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe those who had seen Him after He had risen. {15} And He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. {16} "He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. {17} "And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; {18} "they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover." {19} So then, after the Lord had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God. {20} And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs” (Mark 16:14-20).

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