Reflections On the Easter Side of the Cross 1-19-92
April 16, 2022
Luke 24: 1-12
Often times in life it is darkest just before the "Son Rises." This past few weeks we have been examining some of the major events of our Lord's life on the Cross Side of Easter. Today it is our joy to reflect on the events on the Easter Side of the Cross. Out of all the events of the Bible which are remembered and Celebrated by the Christian Church Easter is the Greatest.
The apostle Paul wrote, "Without the events of Easter, our faith is futile" (without meaning). "Without the events of Easter, you are still in your sins. Without the events of Easter, those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost, and if it was only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men." (1 Corinthians 15: 17-19)
What is Easter? C.S. Lewis, in one of his books, quotes a little boy who, wanting to address the bigger picture, at least from a little boy's perspective, defined Easter as "Chocolate Eggs and Jesus Risen! Well, it's easy to see the kid lived a "Balanced Life": The sweet taste of chocolate in his mouth, and the sweet love of Jesus in his heart. The difference being that long after the memory of the taste of the chocolate eggs, the love of Jesus will still be keeping his soul unto eternity. Amen?
Let us examine the events of the First Easter together as Luke describes them. The main idea I would like to look at with you is this: OFTEN TIMES IN LIFE IT IS THE DARKEST JUST BEFORE THE SON RISES! Let us open our Bibles to (Luke 24: 1-12)
The Gospels have been defined as "Salvation History." There are no greater events in the history of Salvation than those which lie before us this morning. "....there was a darkness over all the earth..." (Luke 23:44.) Just prior to this morning's text the Bible tells us that "...while Jesus was on the Cross an oppressive darkness came upon the earth, "for the sun stopped shining" (Luke 23:45). It was not just overcast, it was dark. Even Nature cried out against the events which were taking place. It was in the midst of this Darkness which engulfed the very soul of Christ and caused Him to cry out: "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (Matthew 27: 46) It was in the midst of this darkness that Jesus died: "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit." When he had said this, he breathed his last. (Luke 23:46)
No one experienced the physical reality of Jesus' death more than Joseph of Arimathea (Luke 23: 50-53): "...Going to Pilate he asked for Jesus' body. Then he took it down, wrapped it in linen cloth and placed it in a tomb cut in a rock, one in which no one had yet been laid." Joseph of Arimathea, a secret disciple of Jesus, now goes public at the highest possible risk to himself and his future. Having received permission from Pilate to provide a proper burial for Jesus, he purchases some linen cloth to wrap the body in, and then makes that heartbreaking trip back to the Cross. In Joseph's broken heart, it was an act of finality. Like the lowering of a casket into the ground in the presence of those who grieve. After all of the preparations were finished, he then laid Jesus on a white shelf of his tomb which he had so recently cut for himself, he then, with help, rolled the large heavy stone which would then seal the entrance of the tomb. Sighing, Joseph then turned and walked slowly away, not looking back. The women who had followed him watched from a distance. It was Friday and there was darkness over all the earth!
"On the first day of the week (Sunday), very early in the morning (the darkest part of the night), the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb" (Luke 24:1) On their way to the tomb they had worried outloud about how they would gain access into the tomb since the stone was far too heavy for them to move. But, when they arrived they found the stone rolled away. Thanking God for their good fortune, they entered the tomb. But their brief joy turned to fear and despair when they found the body gone. It was a sight beyond comprehension; The grave clothes lay in the shape of a body only flat. The cloth which had covered his face was carefully folded and lay at the head of the grave clothes.
"Suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, 'Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; HE..IS..RISEN!
At the Angels' announcement there was a blood curdling scream of anger and terror from the headquarters of Spiritual Darkness: "Death could not keep his prey, Jesus, my Savior! He tore the bars away, Jesus my Lord! Up from the grave he arose, with a mighty triumph o'er his foes; He arose a victor from the dark domain, and he lives forever with his saints to reign." He Arose! He Arose! Hallelujah! Christ Arose!
Conclusion: In 1 Corinthians 15: 4-5 Paul wrote: "I passed on to you right from the first what had been told to me, that Christ died for our sins just as the Scriptures said he would, and that he was buried, and that three days afterwards he rose from the grave just as the prophets foretold." This is the Gospel. This is the Message of Easter. We have a risen Savior. Have you given your life to Christ?
Until next time,