April 5, 2015
Text: Acts 10:34-43
Psalm 118:1-2; 14-24
I Corinthians 15:1-11
This is the Day
Happy Easter! So glad to have everyone here this morning! I love the traditions of Easter- sunrise service- chocolate eggs and bunnies, new clothes- warmer weather- family get-togethers- good food and good times shared together. But what is it that has brought people all over the world with different cultures, color of skin, different nationalities, rich and poor together this morning? It has to be more than cultures and traditions- it has to be something more- something deep and central to our faith that is able to unite all who believe in Jesus Christ for one reason. That central truth that millions are confessing this morning is that the tomb is empty! We worship a risen Lord! If the tomb was not empty, then our faith would be empty and meaningless. But Jesus is alive-and we who are in Christ and trust Him to be our savior can rest in the fact that death has lost it’s sting-the power of death has been defeated and because Jesus rose from the dead, He has made it possible for us to rise from the dead too!
Thousands of years ago, the psalmist recorded a simple, yet profound truth that God had revealed to him: “This is the day the Lord has made- let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Simple- yet hard to fully grasp and make it our own. What exactly does that mean for our lives? It is easy for most of us to be upbeat and happy this morning- but what about the Good Fridays and Saturdays that came before? Was God talking about those days too? Or did He mean only the happy ones? The bible emphatically says: “yes”. Question is then, if we know we are going to rise again, how are we going to live our lives- everyday- regardless of what the day brings? Pray.
Easter is more than chocolate, new clothes, or traditions- although there is nothing wrong with any of them- today is so much more- like the words in the video said: “it is not just another day to come to church and then leave, remember then forget; celebrate and then ignore. Rather it is a day that God has made to point out to us that our identity is not to be shaped by things-or what we do- but redefined by what God has done for us.
When God inspired the Psalmist to write: “this is the day that the Lord has made- let us rejoice and be glad in it”, God wasn’t promising us that every day the sun will be shining and the birds singing. There are certainly days of pain and struggle, days when we wonder if we can get through to the next. Sometimes all we can do is to take them one day at a time.
Consider the Israelites- As they endured incredible hardship as slaves in Egypt- praying for God’s deliverance for generations every day- one day at a time. They looked forward to a day when things would be better, but they had the present to live in-each day was the day that God had made-not just a hope for the future, but hope each day in the present. The question is, to do what? To rejoice in it- to learn to trust God in it as their strength and salvation.
Meanwhile, unknown to them, a baby boy is born to Hebrew parents- miraculously saved from Pharaoh’s order to murder all Hebrew babies his age-who then ironically ends up being raised as Pharaoh’s own son. Long story short- God saved that baby we know as Moses to lead His people out of slavery to the promised land- and each day the story unfolded was the day God had made for His purpose.
So they are on their way- it is a hard journey but God provides them with food to eat- one day at a time- and in the middle of their journey- they lose sight of where they came from and where they are going- and they begin to grumble- forgetting that each day was a gift from God.
Can you relate to the Israelites? Consider if you will, the last three days of holy week to be a representation of just about everyday any of us will ever experience in life- days that all of us no doubt have experienced many times throughout our lives. If we look at them from our perspective, many of those days may not make any sense-and if that is true- how could we honestly rejoice in them? But if we truly believed each day was a day that the Lord had made for good and not for evil, a purpose and a hope- then by faith- not necessarily emotions- there is good reason for us to rejoice.
Consider day One-We call it Good Friday-but for all those who knew and loved Jesus that day he died on the cross- it did not seem very good- in fact, it was a horrible day- a day of great loss- a day of pain and confusion. But from God’s perspective- this was the day that the Lord had made- had promised- had prophesied about- a day God’s mission had been accomplished- the day Jesus’ blood had paid the debt of our sins in full.
Consider day two. It was Saturday-the day they woke up hoping the day before had only been a horrible nightmare, only to wake to the reality that it was true. From the perspective of those who had walked with and loved Jesus here on earth, the day after He had been laid in the tomb was a day of sorrow and mourning- a day that time seemed to stand still- a day of just marking time- waiting for things to change-a land in between with an unknown future.
But from God’s perspective, this was the day the Lord had made to storm the gates of hell- to break the power and chains of death and the devil- to save us from ever having to go there.
Consider day three. From their perspective, Sunday morning started out as if nothing had changed- that is, until God revealed to them that everything had changed. Early in the morning, Mary Magdalene, and Mary, the mother of James, and Salome, made their way to embalm a dead friend- they walked in silence, drowning in their sorrow to a place they thought held His dead body- only speaking to wonder how they were going to roll away the stone that stood in their way.
But when they got there, they found the stone had already been rolled away-not so that they could embalm Jesus’ body- but to let them see for themselves that the tomb was empty- empty that is, all except empty grave clothes that once held Jesus- and an angel to explain it all to them. “Why they were looking for the living among the dead? Remember what He said? He is not here- He has risen from the dead!”
Their day had begun as just another day as if nothing has changed. And then God revealed to them the truth that everything had changed and would never be the same ever again. The day they peered into the empty tomb was a life-changing, game-changing day-it was the day the Lord had made.
Jesus had told the disciples many time what would happen on Friday, and Saturday, and Sunday- and yet they seemed to be surprised when it happened as if they didn’t know. But they had been told- they had heard, but they hadn’t understood and they had forgotten. If they had understood- if they had remembered- how do you think they would have lived on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday morning?
Friday would still have been an incredibly hard day to see Jesus tortured and die a criminal’s death on the cross. It would have been heart-breaking to see Him laid in a tomb behind a stone. But it would have been different, knowing that it was only temporary- it would have been different living with hope and assurance that in just three days, Jesus would rise from the grave alive.
If they had understood what Jesus had told them, how do you think they would have lived through Saturday? It would still have been an incredibly hard to be separated from Jesus by death- but they would have remembered that Saturday was a Sabbath day- a holy day- a day set aside to remember God’s promises and faithfulness.
What about Sunday morning? How do you think they would have started their day if they had known He was alive? They probably would have had a sleepless night- not because they were anxious, but because they were excited. They probably would have still gone looking for him- only they would not have gone to the tomb for sure.
We too can sometimes wake up like the disciples did that first Easter morning- tired from the sleepless night because of the burdens we held all night. Writing to the Ephesians, Paul prayed a prayer for us. I think we should pray it together. Will you please take out your pew bibles and turn with me and read together Ephesians chapter one, verses 15-22 page 947.
What about you and I? We have been so blessed to have heard the Easter story countless times. We know the story inside and out- but I wonder if One hundred years from now, give or take a few years, everyone here will have died. The bible says that in the context of eternity, regardless of how long we live, our lives here on earth are but a fleeting moment. But that does not mean it is meaningless. The God who created you- who knows every hair on your head loves you with a love that was willing to suffer and die for you-who fought for your life- rose from the dead victorious so that we can live with Him forever. He has made each day and given it to us to live in hope and assurance that because of Easter, we too will rise to new life eternal!
We can rejoice in each day because Christ has redeemed it for good and not for evil. We can rejoice in each day knowing that whatever the day- Jesus is alive, and will never forsake us. If you knew that you would rise again- how would you live today, everyday? Because of Easter, we can live I hope while surrounded by hopelessness. We can celebrate and worship God-not only in the Easter mornings of our lives, but the Good Fridays and the Sabbath Saturdays as well. This is the day the Lord has made- let us rejoice and be glad in it! Happy Easter! Amen.