The call to worship had just been pronounced starting Easter Sunday Morning service in an East Texas church. The choir started its processional, singing “Up from the Grave He Arose” as they marched in perfect step down the center aisle to the front of the church. The last lady was wearing shoes with very slender heels.
Without a thought for her fancy heels, she marched toward the grating that covered that hot air register in the middle of the aisle. Suddenly the heel of one shoe sank into the hole in the register grate. In a flash she realized her predicament. Not wishing to hold up the whole processional, without missing a step, she slipped her foot out of her shoe and continued marching down the aisle. There wasn’t a hitch. The processional moved with clock-like precision. The first man after her spotted the situation and without losing a step, reached down and pulled up her shoe, but the entire grate came with it! Surprised, but still singing, the man kept on going down the aisle, holding in his hand the grate with the shoe attached.
Everything still moved like clockwork. Still in tune and still in step, the next man in line stepped into the open register and disappeared from sight. The service took on a special meaning that Sunday, for just as the choir ended with “Allelujah! Christ arose!” a voice was heard under the church shouting…”I hope all of you are out of the way ‘cause I’m coming out now!” The little girl closest to the aisle shouted, “Come on, Jesus! We’ll stay out of the way.”–Contributed by: Darren Ethier
A man was walking down a street when he noticed in a store window a beautiful painting of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. He stood there gazing at the picture for the longest than realized that a little boy was standing beside him. He patted the little boy on the head and said, ”Son, what does that mean?” The little boy said, ”Doncha know? That there man is Jesus, an’ the woman that’s crying is His mother, an’ them others is Roman soldiers. They killed Him.” The man smiled and then started walking away. In a few moments he heard someone running, turned and saw that it was the little boy. He came running up to the man, out of breath, and said, ”Mister, mister, I forgot to tell you that he didn’t stay dead.”
And today we are here to celebrate the Living Lord—Resurrected, Crucified and buried in a borrowed tomb—but He didn’t stay dead. He arose! And today He is at the Right Hand of the Father Interceding for each of us, and someday soon He is Coming Again as King of kings and Lord of lords!
Over the years I have spent much time thinking about the events of Good Friday—how Jesus hung on the Cross, tortured to death for our sins. And, I have celebrated the fact of the Resurrection on Easter Sunday, and. contemplated the meaning of the Resurrection from many different perspectives. But I don’t believe I have ever spent any time thinking about the Saturday Sabbath that occurred between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. But I read a sermon this week that caused me to consider the mood of that Saturday
I. The Somber Saturday
a. In our Sunrise Service we heard monologues of Peter, John, Thomas and Mary Magdalene as to the thoughts they must have had just before the dawn of Resurrection Sunday. The Scriptures do not tell us anything about what occurred on that Saturday. On Friday we read how the body of Jesus was taken down from the Cross and placed in a new tomb owned by Joseph of Arimathea. Nicodemus supplied 70 pounds of spices for preparing his body and there were woman at the tomb who prepared those spices and perfumes. But they were not able to finish the preparation of His body because of the approaching Sabbath. Luke 23: 56 says, “”But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandments.”
b. The disciples were devastated. I’m sure Peter did not spend time on that Saturday thinking about what he was going to say to Jesus on Sunday—No, he believed Jesus was dead and it was all over. None of the disciples remembered how Jesus had told them on multiple occasions that he would be crucified and placed in a tomb but would rise again on the third day.I doubt that any of them thought to do the math—“Let’s see, He died on Friday, that’s one day. Today, Saturday, is the second day. Tomorrow will be the third day—that’s the day He said he would rise again.”No, Saturday was a day of gloom and hopeless despair. Jesus was dead. They had watched him die. They had seen his body placed in the tomb. It was over. All the hopes they had of Jesus leading a revolution to over thrown Rome and establish himself as King were crushed. The words, “”It is Finished” to them meant that all hope was gone. John the Beloved Disciple was heartbroken. Peter was in the torment of guilt because he had denied even knowing Jesus in that crucial hour. Thomas remembered the words he had said as they had returned to Judea –that they would go and die with him. Now Jesus was dead. Which of the disciples would be next?Mary Magdalene from whom Jesus had cast out 7 demons was in shock. Jesus, the One to whom she had devoted her life, was now just a recent memory. Hope was gone.The women who left before dawn to go to the tomb that Sunday morning fully expected to find his body lying on a slab, rigid in death, cold and lifeless. Total despair.No one was thinking of Jesus’ promise of rising from the death. No one was expecting a Resurrection.
c. I wonder this morning how many people are living their lives like it was that Saturday. Life has not been kind. Youthful dreams have long since been forgotten. Time has been cruel physically and emotionally as age and sickness has had its effects our bodies. Maybe tragedy has robbed them of a loved one. And now life is just an endurance marathon. No wonder Suicide ranks among the top killers in our world today. Why go on? All hope has been erased.
Such was the mood of that Saturday.
II. AND THEN CAME SUNDAY…
a. Early in the morning, just before Dawn, 3 women made their way to the tomb. They were coming to finish what they had started on Friday—the Anointing of His body so that it would be properly laid to rest. But when they arrived the Stone had been rolled away and the tomb was empty. And as they starred at the empty tomb, 2 men, obviously Angels, told them that Jesus wasn’t there-that he was alive. And then the angels told them to go and tell Jesus’ disciples.
b. Peter and John, both who probably had not slept very well that night, heard the women’s report and raced to the tomb. They had to see for themselves. John arrived to the entrance first, but hesitated. Peter stepped right in and John followed. The grave clothes were lying discarded to one side. The napkin that had covered his face was lying by itself. At that moment, John remembered what Jesus had said, and He believed. And Peter finally recalled the instructions Jesus had given them to return to Galilee where He would meet with the disciples there.Mary Magdalene lingered at the tomb, uncertain as to what had happened. In her heart she feared that someone had stolen Jesus’ Body. But when Jesus called her by name, all fear fled away. The hopelessness of Saturday was replaced with the thrill of Sunday. Jesus was alive!
c. And, we no longer have to live in that gloom of that Saturday. No matter what has happened, The Resurrection of Jesus has restored our hope. Death no longer has the same grip on us as before. Someone has described death as the exit ramp from this life to the next. . The Grave cannot hold us. Because He lives, we know we too shall live!In 1 Corinthians 15: 26-26 we read…”But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as to Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in turn: Christ, the first fruits, then, when he come those who belong to him. Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death”
d. Saturday was over. Sunday had arrived. And with Sunday there was the miracle of the Resurrection. And the Gloom of Saturday was replaced with the Ecstasy of Joy. Jesus is Alive!
e. Illustration: There was once a small boy from a non-Christian home had been brought into the Sunday school. His mother was not only unsaved, but she had a morbid fear of death. After her little boy became interested in the Sunday school he begged her to come to church with him, but she persistently refused his entreaties because she was afraid that the preacher might say something about death or dying. On Easter Sunday the teacher noticed the lad’s rapt attention while she told the beautiful story of the risen Christ. The child hastened home with a shining face, and exclaimed, “Oh, Mother, you needn’t be afraid of dying any more, for Jesus went through the grave and left a light behind Him!” Gradually the fear in her heart melted under the influence of her son’s words about “the light behind Him.” Early one evening she had put to bed and heard him pray as he did nightly that Christian, “and do it right quick!” he added. Later that evening a neighbor persuaded the mother to go to church. The Heaven-sent message brought conviction, and that night her little boy’s prayer was answered!—Sunday School Time
There is so much that can be said about the Resurrection of Jesus:
➢ It tells us Death has been defeated.
➢ There is eternal life
➢ Jesus is able to do “exceeding and abundantly above all we ask or think.
➢ Jesus is alive and has given us the Holy Spirit—His Spirit—to be with us and to live in us and to empower us and energize us as we strive to live for Him.
➢ All the Promises of God are validated—and are “Yes” and “Amen” in Him!
➢ We don’t have to live in the Gloom and doom mentality—we can claim His Promises and become “More than Conquerors through Him.”
➢ There is Help for today and Hope for Tomorrow.
➢ FEAR NOT, FOR JESUS IS ALIVE AND COMING AGAIN TO CLAIM HIS OWN!
➢ PRAISE HIS HOLY NAME!