Summary: A message on the resurrection for an early morning sunrise service
The First Sunrise Service
April 20, 2014
Easter Sunrise Service
The morning of the resurrection brought a message that was an end of fear. There is no longer reason to fear death. There is no longer reason to fear the wrath of God. There is no longer a reason to fear the trials of daily life. Jesus brought an end to fear through the resurrection.
5 The angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6 He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples: 'He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.' Now I have told you." Matthew 28:5-7
I. We do not need to be afraid
The message of the angel addresses the basic need of the human heart, the removal of fear. These women had multiple reasons to be afraid. The world that they knew had come crashing down over the last few days and everything they expected fell apart.
First, Jesus died is a series of events that was completely unexpected. The result was a lingering sense of personal fear. Their world was literally turned upside down.
Second, Jesus was not to be found. The women were heading to the tomb where Jesus was buried to finish the task of anointing His body. The events of the morning would only add to their sense of fear. There was an earthquake, just as there was on Friday afternoon. There can be no doubt that the women experienced this event. They arrive at the tomb to find the Roman soldiers lying on the ground like dead men. The stone was rolled away and an angel sitting on top of it. The sight would have been both glorious and terrifying.
It is for this reason that the first words of the angel are so vital. Do not be afraid. The angel understood the unnerving nature of the events of previous days and begins by putting their fears to rest. The message should do the same for us. We often come into situations in life that unnerve us and rattle our sensibilities. The words of the angel echo across the ages to our hearts – do not be afraid.
There is no longer reason to fear those things that often cause us the most problems – death. Our greatest fear was relieved at the empty tomb. Our greatest need was cared for through the resurrection. Jesus came to dispel the reality of fear in the hearts of humanity.
II. We need to be aware
The message of the angel was also to raise awareness. The women were at the tomb to look for Jesus. The angel speaks to make them aware of an unexpected reality: He is not here. The one that the women sought was gone. The body was not stolen or moved but instead was supernaturally removed. They did not expect to find the tomb empty and are shocked by the reality of the resurrection. Jesus would no longer be found among the dead because He had risen.
Jesus was dead – these women were there when He was nailed to the cross. These women were there when they too Him off the cross and prepared His body for burial. They were at the tomb when Jesus was laid to rest. They understood the reality that their king was dead. The angel intentionally reminds them of the words of Jesus and His promise to rise from the dead.
The truth of the resurrection is at the core of what we believe as Christians. The message of the angel is equally for us – we need to be aware of the resurrection. Without the resurrection, there is no eternal life. Without the resurrection, there is no hope. Without the resurrection, there is no forgiveness.
III. We need to be active
The angel gives the women two simple instructions: come and see and go and tell. The angel wanted the women to see the empty tomb for themselves. Come and see where he lay. The instruction is for them to look into the inner chamber of the tomb. The invitation to see inside the tomb is an invitation to become witnesses. God chooses these women to be the first witnesses of the resurrection.
The angel then tells the women to go and tell the others the good news. There is no way to be a witness to the resurrection without sharing it. We are all to be witnesses of the resurrection. The moment that we encountered Christ and came face to face with the reality of the empty tomb, we were charged with being His witnesses. We were given the responsibility to share the good news – He is risen.