Monday, April 2, 2012
Scripture for April 8th, Easter Sunday: Matthew 28:1-10; 16-17
Sermon Title: Victory Over Death
After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men. The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. 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.” So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”
Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.
As we celebrate Easter this coming Sunday, we first to pause to remember the death of Christ on Good Friday. May this poem and prayer provided by Mike Mauk help you to do this:
The sun rose higher and higher. Time oozed out like the blood that dripped from the cross. Jesus opened his eyes and saw his mother standing there and John beside her. He called out the name of John, who came closer. And Jesus said, “You will take care of her, John.” And John, choked with tears, put his arm around the shoulders of Mary. Jesus said to his mother, “He will be your son.” His lips were parched, and he spoke with difficulty. He moved his head against the hard wood of the cross as a sick man moves his head on a hot pillow. A thunderstorm was blowing up from the mountains, and the clouds hid the sun. It was strangely dark. The people looked up at the sky and became frightened. Women took little children by the hand and hurried back to the city before the storm would break. It was an uncanny darkness. It had never been as dark before. Something terrible must be about to happen. Women stood praying for Jesus and for the thieves. The centurion was silent, although every now and then he would look up at Jesus with a strange look in his eye. The soldiers were silent, too. Their gambling was over. They had won and lost. Suddenly Jesus opened his eyes and gave a loud cry. The gladness in his voice startled all who heard it, for it sounded like a shout of victory. “It is finished. Father. Into thy hands I commend my spirit.” And with that cry he died.
Catalog of Witnesses
Now we were all there that day on the top of the hill: the friends of Jesus and his enemies. The church people, they were there, as well as the people who never went to church. The priests were there. And the scribes, the greedy Sadducees, the hypocrites, the proud Pharisees, with their robes, their broad bordered phylacteries on which golden bells were sewn with golden thread— they were there, drawing their robes more tightly around them and standing with arms folded approvingly. They were there. The people who were always talking about the church and always talking about the Lord, the pious people on whose lips there were always glib quotations from the Scriptures—they were there. The unbelievers were standing beside them. The harlots were there, and their customers were there. They were all there. Simon of Cyrene was there, and the soldiers, too. Peter was there, and John and Andrew and James and Thomas and Philip and Matthew and Bartholomew. They were all there.
Were you there when they crucified my Lord?
When we consider who were there, and when we are honest with ourselves, we know that we were there and that we helped to put Christ there. Because every attitude present on that hilltop that day is present in our midst now. Every emotion that tugs the human heart then, tugs the human heart still. Every face that was there is here too. Every voice that shouted then is shouting still. Every human being was represented on Calvary. Every sin was in a nail or the point of a spear or the thorns. And pardon for them all was in the blood that was shed. Nineteen hundred years have passed away. But the range of the centuries with our callused tears have not yet washed away the blood from the rotting wood of a deserted cross. Nor have the winds covered his footprints in the sands of Judea. Calvary still stands, and you and I erect the cross again and again and again every time we sin. The hammer blows are still echoing somewhere in the caverns in your heart and mine. Every time we deny him, every time we sin against him or fail to do what he commanded, he is being crucified again and again and again.
Were you there when they crucified my Lord? I was. Were you?
O God of our souls, how many times have we promised to love you and again we have turned our backs on you. O by that love with which you died for us on the cross, grant us sorrow for our sins, the grace to love you, and to ever turn to you in times of temptation, trial, and tribulation. Amen
May you remember and give thanks for the death of Christ and the forgiveness that we receive through His death this week. And come help us celebrate His resurrection this coming Sunday as we conclude our sermon series, “The Victorious King.” Hope to see you and your loved ones then!