Summary: The experiences and reactions of the women on Easter Sunday morn, in many ways mirror our reaction to the New Day that has come through Jesus’ resurrection.
Walkin’ with Jesus:
The Dawn of a New Day
Scripture Text: Mark 16.1-8
The Easter story is an amazing and moving-story ~ …but not-just-because it touches us emotionally. But, it’s incredible and powerful because it really did happen; …and-because of what-those-events tell us about God’s-heart and God’s-intentions toward each one of us!
Every one of the Gospel stories tells that the first visitors to the tomb came very early… At dawn. Maybe-even leaving their home before the first rays of sunlight had peaked over the horizon. Mark says-as-much. It’s very early.
This morning, some of us got up at the crack-of-dawn to gather for a sunrise service. We weren’t the only ones. Many believers, around the world, stepped into the shoes-of-those-women who went to tomb.
That-day began in darkness. It began with a cloud-of-grief, hangin-low in their hearts. It began with what seemed-to-be a continuation of the way things-have-always-been. “We get our hopes up; “…We think that things are gonna be better; “…We think that maybe, just-maybe, God has sent us some help.”
But-then, we end-up disappointed. We end-up on the dark-side of the next-day, …a day that is just-like-every-other day. Filled with broken-hearts, …and shattered-dreams, …despair over the future, …filled with regrets over what ‘woulda-been, shoulda-been, I wish it was’!
The women got up early. Their hearts were heavy. Their minds clouded with grief and disappointment. The smile of their Friend, …the compassion of His words, …the light that emanated from His eyes ~ …It was all extinguished a few-days-earlier, as Jesus breathed His last, …hanging on the executioner’s cross, …and He said, “It is finished!”
“Finished”, all-right! Finished hopes. Finished dreams. Finished relationships. Finished!
Can you imagine the heaviness of their footsteps as they made-their-way through the dark, empty streets of Jerusalem? I wonder if they walked past the Temple ~ …the place where the curtain was ripped from top-to-bottom the same-day that Jesus died! I wonder if they walked past the city-gate where Jesus rode on a donkey, while all the people shouted, “Hosanna!” I wonder if they thought of His words, “I am the light of the world” ~ …even as the sun’s-first-rays peaked over the distant horizon. Can you imagine the tangled-web of fleeting thoughts and memories streaming through their minds as they shuffled-along early on Sunday morning? Did they talk, or just move-along in silence? Did tears hang on the rims of their lids, …or were they wiping the sleep from tired eyes?
Whatever-their-posture, …whatever-their-thoughts, …whatever-their-physical-state, …they mustered one-question… After they bought the burial-spices from merchant who’d set up shop especially-early that morning, …as they drew-near to the tomb, …they wondered out-loud: “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?”
And with that-simple-question ~ …an understandable question, …a logical question, …entirely-reasonable ~ …with that-simple-question, the surprises began to unfold!
The darkness flees at first-light. It is a reminder that so-long-as light shines, darkness does not, …cannot prevail! When light shines, …darkness must flee. The dawn signifies that darkness has no hold, …no grip …no authority over the world.
And the women are about to see that the world-they-thought was-just-the-same as-it’s-always-been, …they were about to see that everything was different!
Hardly-had-they-gotten-the-question outta-their-mouth, …the women looked-up and saw that the tomb ~ …that huge rock, …that massive boulder, …that stone that had been sealed by Pilate and the Sanhedrin ~ …it was rolled away! Set-aside. Put outta-the-way. Unsealed. Opened-up. Removed. The stone is rolled-away to expose the emptiness of the tomb. This is the first sign that a new-day-has-dawned. This is the first clue that things aren’t-the-way they’ve always-been. This is the first indication that the darkness of grief and despair and broken dreams ~ Surprise!!! Things aren’t what you expected. Things are different, …beginning today!
There’s more-surprises to come, …but we’re already beginning-to-realize that we’re not burdened by the same heaviness that we’ve been carrying around, almost-since the beginning of time. “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?” ~ “You don’t-even have-to-worry about such trivial-matters! “It may seem overwhelming and impossible to you; “…but it’s taken-care-of! “Just look-up! “Open your eyes and you’ll see even-more wondrous-things! “The stone is outta-the-way, “…so you can see inside the grave, …and the dawn of a new day, …can rekindle-hope, …come in the magnificent Name of Jesus!”
The next surprise came a few minutes later ~ …when they peaked into the tomb. The door was opened, …they stepped in, …and what did they see?
An angel. An angel! Now, unfortunately, …our imaginations have been high-jacked by Hallmark-cards …silly-little drawings of angels that look like cupid! We’ve come-to-think of ‘angels’ as-looking-like chubby-little-children. They’ve got a cute-set of wings that helps them flutter-and-flitter, …and a toy bow-and-arrow that they use to shoot love-darts at unsuspecting young men-and-women.