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Light For Dark Times
An Easter Message From the Resurrection Story

by Robert L. Cobb
-Administrator, News For Christians Dot Com

And very early in the morning the first day of the week, 
they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun.
Mark 16:2

Introduction:"And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun..."  (Mark 16:2)   There is a great contrast between light and darkness in the Easter story.   Remember how God shut down the sun in midday as Jesus hung upon the cross?  There was total darkness from noon till around 3:00 in the afternoon.  At the crucifixion, God brought darkness in times of light.  On resurrection morning, God brought light in times of darkness.  I don't believe it is circumstantial that the women arrived at the sepulchre just at the dawn.  In this message, I want us to examine how the resurrection brought light out of darkness, and how these truths still today can bring blessing and power to God's people in times of darkness and suffering.

I.     It Was a Time of Unexpected Death

Their Feelings We know the "rest of the story."  We know that Jesus resurrected from the grave.  Having not experienced it firsthand, we may easily forget that a traumatic event had just occurred in the lives of the disciples.  Jesus had been crucified!  They had walked with Him, ate with Him, slept beside Him!  They had watched Him heal the sick and raise the dead.  Jesus had spent quality time with each of the disciples and they had loved Him greatly.  They had lived with this Man for 3 1/2 years and now He had been publicly executed before the whole nation of Israel.  What a dark time!  Luke 23:27 tells us that some of His disciples had been present at His death,  And there followed him a great company of people, and of women, which also bewailed and lamented him.  Also in John 19:25-27, Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene.  When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son!  Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home.  Most of the disciples had probably fled, unable to watch their Master and Friend die
Our Feelings     Which of us have not endured the pain and suffering of a loved one's death?  Some may be so fortunate as to have never experienced it, but their day is also coming.  It is impossible to escape the darkness of death in this life.  A parent loses a child  -some have said that this is the worst sorrow of all.  But what of the loss of one's life mate?  Many have walked through that dark valley!  And most of us will one day bury our parents.  What sadness!  What mournfulness!  What melancholy!

Christ's Resurrection Conquers All Death!   Though death is following us closely in this life, it will be banished in the next!   ! Cor. 15:54-55   54  So when this corruptible shall have put on incorrup- tion, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.  O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?   The women and dicisiples who came to that empty tomb did not realize that death itself had been defeated at that very spot and that, one day, there would be no more death.

II.    It Was a Time of Unforeseen Defeat

Their Losses      I am reminded of James and John, the sons of thunder.  How tall they stood when standing by Christ!  They were unbeatable, unstoppable.  (Luke 9:54)  And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did?  James and John knew a winner when they saw one.  Jesus was the answer to their life search; He was the One who met all their needs.  There was no doubt in their minds that He would restore the kingdom and reign as King.  Their mother came to Jesus with a proposition,  Grant that these my two sons may sit, the one on thy right hand, and the other on the left, in thy kingdom.  (Mat. 20:21)   What an honor just to be on the same side as the Messiah!   But with every seeming victory, there is the flip side of defeat.  Poor John watched as Jesus gave His mother into his care.  The victories of the past melted into humiliating defeat as Jesus died.

Our Losses How James and John parallels our lives.  We have our times of victory when it seems that nothing can go wrong.  But in other times, defeat is our constant companion.  Paul said, ...I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ. (Phil. 3:8)
Paul's defeats in physical areas assured victory in the spiritual.  We suffer loss in this life, but God assures us that our defeats are for His glory.

Christ's Resurrection Cures All Defeat!    Though the cross seemed like Christ's final defeat, it was actually the first act of the greatest victory of all time!  The resurrection was the final act, and, together, Christ's death and resurrection assure us of ultimate victory.  I Cor. 15:57 tells us But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

III.   It Was a Time of Unconscious Doubt

Their Doubts      It would be easy here to paint a picture of Thomas.  It is so easy to label him "The Doubter."    But the serious Bible student discovers that all of the disciples had great doubts after Christ was crucified and buried.  Consider the disciples on the road to Emmaus in Luke 24.  If you study the text closely you will find that these two nameless believers were at the tomb that morning.  (Luke 24:13)  After seeing the empty tomb and hearing the angel speak, they still told the Stranger on the road,  But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel:  (Luke 24:21)
Jesus finally reveals Himself to them and vanishes out of their sight.  They go back to Jerusalem to tell the other disciples about what they experienced.  When Jesus appeared once again in the midst, the Bible says, ...they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit.  And he said unto them, Why are ye troubled? and why do thoughts arise in your hearts?  (Luke 24:37-38) 

Our Doubts    We almost want to laugh at the foolish disciples who continued to doubt Christ's resurrection in spite of the mountain of evidence proving it.  But are modern Christians really any different?  We are put in situations regularly that require faith in God.  Do we display that faith?  Do we really believe that God will meet our physical, monetary, and spiritual needs?  Doubt is an unconscious thing.  We do not realize our doubt while we engage in it.  Doubt is simply the absence of considering God.  It is difficult sometimes for us to realize that God is willing to work in our lives.  Like the disciples, we don't know Him when we see Him!

Christ's Resurrection Concludes All Doubt!    A great miracle happened at the resurrection.  It guaranteed that the faith of the Christian would one day become sight.  For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet....For he hath put all things under his feet....And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.   Though we may sometimes doubt our God in this life, all doubts will be concluded in that Great Day!

IV.   It Was a Time of Unfelt Development

Peter's Development    Peter was the disciple who, in his own words, would "never forsake" Christ.  We all know the story of how he warmed his hands by Satan's fire and was exposed by those who sat with him.  To throw them off track, he curses, thinking surely they wouldn't believe he was Christ's disciple after such a display.  Christ makes eye contact from a distance, and Peter embarks on a backsliding excursion that continues throughout the resurrection and through a fishing trip on the Sea of Tiberias.  On the shoreline, Christ appears to Peter and deals lovingly with him, asking him three times, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these?  (John 21:15)  With the words, Feed my sheep Jesus commissions Peter to preach the gospel and serve Him in sincerity.   The first Easter season was a learning experience for Peter.

Our Development     Scripture teaches us that we are to grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. (2 Pet. 3:18)  God is developing us even through the difficult times of suffering and doubt.  We may not "feel" like we are being developed, but God's Word assures us that He is constantly working on us.

Christ's Resurrection Confirms All Development!    It may seem difficult to learn the lessons of this life but but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.  (1 John 3:2)  We are on the potter's wheel and in the potter's hand.  He is turning, molding, and sculpting us into replicas of Himself!  The resurrection ensures us that His development will one day be confirmed.

V.    It Was a Time of Unavoidable Decision

Their Decision    Jesus did not just appear to His disciples and then leave for Heaven.  He left specific instructions for His people.  Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:  Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.  (Mat. 28:19-20)   The disciples had a decision to make.  Would they obey and do the things that Christ commanded?  The Holy Spirit empowered them to accomplish great things for God.  Thank God that they chose to obey the Great Commission.

Our Decision     Today's Christians must make the same decision that the early disciples did.  Though many things in this world have changed since then, the important things have not.  The Great Commission is still in force, still challenging men, women, boys and girls to accomplish great things for God.  The Holy Spirit has not changed; He still empowers; He still emboldens; He still convicts lost sinners.  What is your decision?

Christ's Resurrection Cements All Decision!   The raising of Christ guarantees that our labors here on earth will not go unrewarded.  (1 Cor. 3:9) For we are labourers together with God..  We will stand before God at the Bema judgment to give account of our works and labors on this earth.  Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is.  If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.   If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.   (1 Cor. 3: 13-15) 

Conclusion:  In the light of the resurrection, we must make the decision to serve Christ and do His work.  The darkness and suffering of this life cannot compare to the glory and wonder of Heaven!  Let us renew our vows to our great God!

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