Early In The Morning is the title of my message for this Sunrise service.
The scripture today comes from Mark 16:1-8
This morning….as the dawn rises…I want you to go with me….with the ladies to Jesus’ tomb. They arrived early. - These ladies didn’t arrive early in anticipation, but rather to take care of unfinished business. Luke 23:55-56 records that they had seen the tomb and where his body was laid after he was taken down from the cross. Yet, they had to return home where they prepared the spices, and ointments, but their work was delayed because of the Sabbath. Even though Nicodemus, and Joseph had annointed the Lord’s body, it was done in haste, and was not satisfactory enough for these ladies. Thus, as soon as they could…following the Sabbath, early in the morning while it was still dark, they left their homes, met together, and went to the tomb of Jesus. One must admire the devotion, and courage of these ladies. Oh, how they loved him ! He must have a proper burial. It was the least they could do. They were courageous in what they did. They did not fear the darkness nor did they fear being identified with Christ. We have all gotten up early this morning and come to this place for a different reason.
Notice also....that they arrived expecting. What did those ladies expect ? They expected to find a body. They came there to annoint the body of the Lord with spices, and ointments since they were unable to do so because of the Sabbath. What do we expect when we go to a graveyard ? We expect that there will be tears shed...that there will be grieving, and that a body will be lowered down in the ground, and covered with dirt.
Then notice.......They arrived entering. Mark 16:3-4 – “And they said among themselves, Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulcher ? And when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away: for it was very great.” As these ladies came to the place where they had seen the body of Christ laid, they were discussing how they would be able to get into the tomb. They had seen the huge stone that was rolled in front of it after his death, and knew that it was to large for them to move. Their major concern at that moment was access to the body. Apparently these ladies had no confidence that the Roman Soldiers who had been dispatched to guard the tomb would be courteous enough to roll away the stone. After all they had been instructed to seal the tomb...indicating that it was not to be disturbed. Yet, God gave them access to an empty tomb. They arrived anticipating to find a stone in front of the tomb, but what they found was the stone rolled away, and the tomb empty !!!
So….what did they do next? They departed excited ! What a great way to leave a cemetery ? Amen ? We don’t usually leave graveyards excited ? We usually leave there in pain over the death of a family member or friend ! Even, if it’s not someone that we were closely acquainted with....excitement is not an emotion we usually feel after leaving the graveyard...yet, these ladies were excited ! The source of their excitement was, of course, the resurrection of The Lord Jesus Christ. Mark records that they left quickly and fled...and that they trembled and were amazed ! Matthew 28:8 captures the moment in a beautiful way..." And they departed quickly from the sepulcher with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word. The resurrection of the Lord allows us a different view of death. Death is no longer a dead end. It is no longer something that one must face with dread, and despair. Death is no longer the enemy of those who believe because it has been challenged, and conquered by the Lord. Because he lives, we shall live also. The Passion of Christ, and his death would have been without any merit if not for the resurrection. The devil thought he had won. Jesus had died on the cross. His limp, lifeless body removed from the cross, and laid in a tomb secured, sealed, and guarded by Roman Soldiers. Yet, early on this special morning….."Surprise"! Death, and the grave cannot hold the Son of God. He had the authority to lay down his life, and he had the authority to take it again ! This Sunrise morning.........we worship and serve a Risen Lord.