When the millennium dome (remember that!) was first opened its strap line to attract visitors was – “one amazing day!” Such a “sound bite” could well apply to the very first Easter day as we shall now discover.
In fulfilment of Old Testament prophesy (Isaiah 53 v 9) Joseph of Arimathea, a leading member of the Jewish religious establishment, but also a secret follower of God’s Son, provided Jesus with a “decent burial” sealing his body in the tomb. End of story? Don’t you believe it, because as we examine the events of that first Easter day we will notice that it had three constituent parts, all of which continue to be represented today:-
1 – Faith Extinguished (v 1.)
As the sun rose some women visited the tomb to anoint Jesus’ body with perfume (Mark 16 v 1), preoccupied with the huge problem of who would roll away the stone from the entrance to the tomb (Mark 16 v 3.) Despite all that Jesus had said to them about his suffering, death and resurrection (Matthew 16 v 21; 17 v 23 & 20 v 19), coupled with the images that he had used of the temple (John 2 v 19) and Jonah and the great fish (Matthew 12 v 40) the women went to the tomb expecting to find a dead body, their faith in his proclaimed resurrection having been extinguished.
Challenge – Has your faith been all but extinguished due to an inability to believe in the resurrection? For you, like the women, Jesus is dead. End of story. Dead men don’t rise. But wait a moment as we continue to follow the women’s journey through this “one amazing day” faith extinguished is soon supplanted by:-
2 – Faith Evidenced (v 2 – 8.)
Upon the women’s arrival at the tomb there was a violent earthquake, then an angel appeared and rolled back the stone; while the Roman guards shook with fear at this supernatural demonstration. The angel then directly addressed the women – “He is not here; he has risen” (v 6), before inviting them into the tomb to inspect the pristine grave clothes, and then commissioning them to go and share the news of resurrection with his disciples. So off they went having seen with their eyes and heard with their ears the evidence of resurrection.
Challenge – Do you need to examine afresh the evidence in favour of the resurrection of Jesus? We cannot enter the tomb, but we do have the reliable evidence of the Word of God (Acts 2 v 24.) There is also the evidence of the many appearances of the risen Christ to individuals (Luke 24 v 34 & John 20 v 18), to the disciples (John 20 v 19) as well as to a great crowd (1 Corinthians 15 v 6.) Add to that the remarkable change in the disciples and the shift from the last to the first day of the week for Christian worship and you have a faith that is bolstered by evidence. But evidence can only change the mind, it cannot change someone’s life, so as we continue to journey through this “one amazing day” faith extinguished and evidenced is soon supported by:-
3 – Faith Experienced (v 9 – 10.)
As the women hurried from the tomb to tell the disciples, they were met and greeted by none other than the risen Christ himself. They clung to him and worshipped him as they rejoiced in their personal experience of the risen Lord.
Challenge – Have you had that personal experience of meeting with the risen Lord Jesus Christ? Today we cannot encounter Jesus in the flesh, but because he is alive forevermore he continues to reveal himself and to transform historical faith which proclaims “Christ lives,” into saving faith which declares “Christ lives in me” making the day on which that happens “one amazing day.”
Theme: “One amazing day!”
Reading: Matthew 27 v 57 – 28 v 10
Preacher: Chris Hughes
Led by: Bev Sills