On that fateful Friday when Jesus was crucified, Luke tells us that “…when it was about noon darkness came over the whole land” (also rendered in some translations “over the whole earth”) until three in the afternoon, while the sun’s light failed” (NRSV). THAT WAS THE DARKEST DAY IN HISTORY!
When Jesus was born in Bethlehem, heaven rejoiced, but there were only a few on earth who were aware of His birth. How could anyone have known that the hinge of history was on the Bethlehem stable, that the Light of the World was lying there in a manger, that “…the true light, which enlightens everyone was coming into the world” ? (John 1:9)
Then, when Jesus died on the cross, the sun’s light failed, for men had “loved darkness rather than light. because their deeds were evil” (John 3:19). The powers of darkness had done their worst, the enemies of Jesus thought they had succeeded in extinguishing the light of His life, but the light “…still shines in the darkness, for the darkness did not overcome it.“ (John 1:5)
When John wrote those words in the prologue to his gospel, He was standing on the other side of the cross. Yes, that black Friday was the darkest of all days, and those who had “…hated the light” and refused “…to come to the light” (John 3:20), were still rejoicing that they had put a bloody period at the end of that troublemaker’s life! They would hear no more from Him! A large stone had been rolled across the entrance to His tomb, and a Roman seal had been put there so no one would dare tamper with the tomb.
That was Saturday but when the gospel accounts of the crucifixion were written the gospel writers were seeing the cross through the empty tomb, for they had heard the good news, the best news this world has ever heard, announced by an angel very early on Sunday, “…at early dawn” according to Luke, “when the women had come to the garden to visit the tomb (i.e. Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary the mother of Jesus), and “…they found the stone rolled away, and when they went into the tomb they did not find the body. While they were perplexed about this, suddenly two men in dazzling clothes stood beside them. The women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, but the men asked them, “Why are you looking for the living among the dead? HE IS NOT HERE, BUT HAS RISEN!”
On Saturday, His enemies were too optimistic and His friends were too pessimistic. His enemies were so glad, while His friends were so sad! On the cross Jesus had cried out, “It is finished!” Those words were misinterpreted by His enemies, and misunderstood by His friends. His enemies were telling each other, “Yes, He is finished!” His friends were saying, “We had hoped that He would be the one to redeem Israel, but now it is finished. All hope is gone.” But on Sunday, the unexpected happened! “Up from the grave He arose, with a mighty triumph o’er his foes; He arose a victor from the dark domain, and He lives forever with His saints to reign. HE AROSE! HE AROSE! HALLELUJAH, CHRIST AROSE!”
This is the faith we sing! This is why Christians worship on Sunday, the “Lord’s Day,” the
Day of Resurrection. This is why every Sunday should be a little Easter! I believe the Apostle Peter says it best in his first letter to the young church: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy we have been born anew into a living hope through his resurrection from the dead, and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for all of you, who are being protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be completed in the fullness of time. In this you rejoice.” (I Peter 1:3-5)
So, REJOICE! For SOMETHING GOOD HAS HAPPENED TO DEATH! Christ abolished death! Christ robbed the grave of its victory! Because He lives we shall live also! Nothing in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord, not even death! For whether we live, or whether we die, we are the Lord’s, today, tomorrow, and forever! Again I say, REJOICE! This the heart of the Easter message. However, it is not to be found in the creeds and confessions of the Church. It is not to be found in our hymns, or in our liturgies. It is only found in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, and that is only possible by grace alone, through faith alone (Ephesians 2:8-10; Romans 8:11, 31-39, which inspires us to proclaim without any hesitation, apology, or embarrassment, THIS IS THE BEST NEWS EVER HEARD! THANK GOD WE HAVE BEEN GIVEN EARS TO HEAR!