Sunday Has Come! – July 26, 2020
Psalm 118:21-29, Luke 24:1-11
July 26, 2020
It’s Friday, but Sunday’s coming! That was my sermon from two weeks ago. You may want to go back and read or listen to that sermon, because it’s the setup for this one. Again, if you’re watching live, don’t leave us now! But do consider going back and watching that one again, because it was essentially my Good Friday sermon. And Good Friday was the setup for Easter Sunday! And that’s what we’re thinking about today, as we celebrate this, the greatest turning point in history, the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.
As I said then, so much changed on that Friday! And of course, then, I was talking about those changes in terms of the things that had ended – especially for the disciples. The earthly ministry of Jesus had ended. Their time as his disciples had ended. (They didn’t know they were soon to be “Apostles.”) Their hopes and dreams had ended, along with the hopes and dreams of all Israel. Where once they had been at the center of attention, close followers and confidants of this “rock star” Jesus, now they were wanted men. And, as I’ve been saying, their feeling, in losing all of that, was one of devastation.
And keep in mind, that they didn’t know that all those changes were not permanent! I apologize for that double negative, but it is to say that they thought things were over, and that was it! We know things were about to change again. We know Jesus wasn’t gone for good. But they didn’t! Their devastation was complete, and seemingly irreversible!
I shared with you that day part of the sermon by S. M. Lockridge, a prominent African American preacher of the late 1900’s. It was the sermon that inspired the thought, “Sunday’s Comin’!” I want you to hear again how that sermon ended.
It’s Friday. The earth trembles. The sky grows dark. My King yields his spirit. It’s Friday. Hope is lost. Death has won. Sin has conquered. And Satan’s just a laughin’.
It’s Friday. Jesus is buried. A soldier stands guard. And a rock is rolled into place.
But it’s Friday. It is only Friday… Sunday’s a comin’!
Well, the message for today, and for all eternity, is that Sunday has come! The Lord is risen! Everything has changed! The kingdom of this world is become, the kingdom of our Lord, and of his Christ, and he shall reign for ever and ever! Hallelujah! The change was that great and that dramatic! It went from the lowest of the low to the highest of the high! The disciples didn’t know it yet, but it did!
I also read today from Exodus. I read what is known as “The Song of Moses.” It was the song Moses sang after the crossing of the Red Sea, and the defeat of the army of Pharaoh. He sang, “The Lord is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation.” Those are wonderful words about that great victory!
As I said before, there are two salvation stories in the Bible. There’s one in the Old Testament, and one in the New. Those words, that song, is from the salvation story in the Old Testament. And I think that moment may have been the Old Testament version of Easter morning. For Moses and the Israelites, the victory was won right there by the sea. In the New Testament, the victory came at the empty tomb! So maybe that song can be our song now, too! “The Lord is our strength and our song, and he has become our salvation!”
So, the victory was won! Jesus had conquered! But the disciples’ troubles were not over. Far from it! Yes, they had their master back with them, but not for long. He would be with them for 40 days or so, then he would be taken up into heaven. And I wonder what they were thinking during those 40 days? We’re going to talk about that in the weeks to come! Maybe they had visions of sitting once again with Jesus beside the sea, while he taught the crowds – like “old times.” Maybe they saw themselves standing near him in the temple, as he “took on” the Pharisees once again. But no. Those parts of their lives were over – permanently!
However, Sunday had come! The hopelessness and despair were gone. The devastation was replaced with wonder. And that was the thought that first Easter morning – wonder and amazement. But I want you to think about something here. If you’re amazed by something, it doesn’t necessarily mean you understand it, does it? If you’re inspired, or excited by something, it doesn’t mean you’ve thought it all through, and you know exactly where you’re heading with it. Amazement and inspiration can “spur us” on to learn and discover more, but they’re not necessarily times of complete understanding.
Think about that And think about that first Easter morning. And you’ve heard me say this before. Those guys had a real problem with simply believing what happened! One of the main feelings, on Easter morning, was disbelief! At the end of the Easter morning story in Luke’s Gospel, I read you the reaction of the disciples, when the women brought them about the Resurrection. Luke’s tells us that “These words seemed to them and idle tale – a fairy tale – and they did not believe them!” Yes, there was wonder and amazement, but the disciples were far from understanding it!
And yes, at some point we will talk about “Doubting Thomas.” And when we do, you’ll hear again my thoughts about him, that Thomas was no more a “doubter” than any of them! He was simply the only one who was not there when Jesus appeared the first time. It wasn’t the doubt of Thomas that was the center of that story, it was the disbelief of those first days! They all suffered from it! Disbelief was the general feeling of the day. And I daresay it would have been our feeling, too!
As I said, the disciples’ troubles didn’t go away. Regardless of how amazing the news was, that first Easter morning, they were still behind closed doors. They were still living in fear of the authorities. And they had every reason to be – as we shall soon see! They were still uncertain, even though they had the greatest of news! And it was great news! Sunday has come! And all things have changed again – this time for the better! To parallel Lockridge’s sermon, “It’s Sunday! Hope is not lost! Death has not won! Jesus has conquered! And Satan… well, we can only imagine what he was thinking now!”
It’s interesting that in this very strange year of 2020, we are celebrating this Easter message – finally – on-line and socially distanced. We still have many health and safety concerns. We’re not out of the woods yet, by any means. We still have to be cautious and vigilant, and we still have frustrations about that. If you think about it, we’re like those disciples! We’re behind closed doors, like them. We’re not out of danger, like them. But! We can have hope, like they did. We can have peace. We aren’t without difficulties. We don’t understand it all. And we don’t have to. We just need to know who we can trust. That is so important!
Those of you who know me, know that I’m an “understand how things work” kind of guy! I love to take things apart and put them back together. I like to learn how things work. But I also recognize that, when I don’t understand something, trusting someone else who does understand is so important! And isn’t that really true of all of us?
I believe it is. We try to understand, but when we don’t, we trust someone who does. That’s part of my role as a Pastor. It’s my job to assure you that, even though you might not be able to understand something about the faith, you can still trust that it’s true. That’s so important! One of the greatest prayers in the Bible, was the man who pleaded with Jesus, saying, “I believe, Lord. Help Thou my unbelief!” Isn’t that a great prayer for Easter?
There was a growing amazement among the disciples that Easter morning. Things were changing and they wouldn’t fully understand them for a while. But they were starting to grow in the trust that it was all true! I hope we can think about that when we aren’t sure about things in our faith. I hope we see the importance of growing in trust that our faith is true. Remember that Paul did not say, “Faith is the assurance of things we know for a fact, the conviction of things beyond a doubt.” He said. “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen!” (Hebrews 11:1) We aren’t always certain about what we believe, but we trust that it’s true. That reminds me of a quote I heard years ago, and I’ve never forgotten. It goes like this. “I don’t know what the future holds, but I know the one who holds the future!” That’s true, isn’t it? And that’s faith! Faith is believing even though you don’t fully understand.
There are some who don’t get that about the faith. They say they won’t trust in God until they can understand him fully. They won’t turn to God until they can be satisfied with how everything works with him. I don’t believe we can ever do either of those things! We cannot understand God fully, and we cannot know how everything works with him. We believe in a God who is far beyond our understanding.
Some people are uncomfortable with that. They’d rather make God into a “little god”, a god who is “manageable and understandable.” (Maybe even a god who is “controllable!”) I don’t believe that’s possible. God is far beyond our understanding. And so is this event. So is this Resurrection. How did Jesus appear to the disciples? What was he like? Was he flesh and blood again? Was he a spiritual being, like Moses and Elijah on the mountaintop? How could all this possibly happen, when it seems so impossible – especially to the people who saw him die!
There are parts of this that are beyond our understanding. That’s a fact! But that doesn’t matter, as long as we trust the one who made it all happen. As long as we seek to grow in our trust in him. We don’t know all things, but we know the one who is above all things!
So then, Sunday has come! Jesus has overcome! The Lord is our strength and our song, and he has become our salvation! The kingdom of this world has become the kingdom of our Lord, and of his Christ. And he shall reign forever and ever, Hallelujah!
Eternal God, we thank you that you have become our salvation! Help us to grow in our trust in you, and of your power in the world, and in our lives. Help us to live our lives in a closer relationship with you, and to seek your presence every day. We rejoice in the Good News of Easter morning, and we pray in the name of our risen Savior! Amen!