The Day Before the Resurrection

Today is the Saturday before Easter Sunday, Resurrection Sunday. Yesterday I worked all day on my sermon for Easter Sunday – what a joy to be focusing on the resurrection of our Savior all day long! I love my job:-) However, as my first time in the role of senior Pastor for a church, I have learned that preparation for Easter has to start sooner. I thought that we could start planning in February, but next year we will begin possibly even before the New Year in discussing ideas for this most wonderful holiday! In my opinion, Easter should be even more grand than Christmas for the believer. I love Christmas and celebrate it wholeheartedly, but the Resurrection of our Savior is what gives us victory over death! 
Another thought about the day before Resurrection Sunday…what was it like for the followers of Jesus the day before the resurrection of Christ? It was the Sabbath and their teacher, friend and Messiah was in the grave. They had witnessed His arrest, illegal trials, torture and death on the cross. Their whole world was shaken. According to the two on the road to Emaus, they had anticipated that Jesus was the Messiah and would lead Israel back into power. Now He was dead. I have never been in a Jewish home on a Sabbath Day, but I imagine it is a quiet, somber day. Rituals were kept with extreme misgivings. The Scriptures were read, but with much doubt on the part of the adults. How could Jesus not have been the Chosen One? He taught with such authority, using the Scriptures as though He was the Author. His life was exemplary – never out of sorts because of discomfort or weariness. He was a tremendous example of love to all that followed Him. And on top of all of that, He did miracles. Not just making people get better from a cold, but giving sight to a man born blind, walking on water and calming the storm, and then raising Lazarus from the dead! How could He not be the Messiah? But yet He is dead and has been in the grave since late afternoon on Friday. The women were making plans to go back to the garden tomb where Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea had laid Him in haste on Friday. They were going to finish what the men had started to bury His body properly, with respect. Then there was the fear factor. If the Jews were able to get Jesus killed by the Romans, would they also go after those that wer e closest to Him? The next time they go the temple, will the guards there grab them and drag them before the Sanhedrin? The High Priest was a leader in opposition to Jesus, and Pilate had shown clearly that he was afraid of the Jewish leaders. They might begin a widespread persecution of those that had spent time with Jesus as their leader. What a fearful, sad day that Sabbath must have been.
 
BUT, Jesus was coming back from the dead on Sunday morning! Many times in life we are down. Watching a loved one on their death bed is about the lowest time in a person’s life. Sin has its fulfillment in our bodies as we pass from this life into eternity. It causes us to long for the day in heaven when there is no more pain, no more sorrow or suffering. Also, I believe God allows the dark times so that we will more fully appreciate the good times. We do not know everything that God is doing at any one moment, just as the disciples did not anticipate the resurrection on that Saturday. Through ignorance and unbelief, we do not fully appreciate God’s plan and working in our lives. But redemption, and renewed fellowship with Him are His objectives, and in His sovereign way, He is bringing this world toward that end. If we could jump in a time machine and talk with Mary, James, John and Peter on that Saturday, we could assure them that everything was going to be all right, even better than before! We would jump at that chance – but will we share that same good news with the people across the street? Easter Sunday is a great opportunity to share the good news. I trust I am ready for Resurrection Sunday! Are you?   

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