Many congregations have an Easter sunrise service. Joyful hearts sing the Easter message with enthusiasm in the early morning. I will never forget the Sunday morning that started with an overcast sky, but how during the sermon -“He is not here, but is risen” – the sun burst through the window behind the pulpit. It was as if the Lord Himself were punctuating the message of forgiveness sealed by our Savior’s resurrection. The message of forgiveness of sins, life and salvation sheds light and warmth into the heart.
On Easter day, the Savior attached Himself to the Emmaus disciples who were discussing the day’s events as they returned home from Jerusalem. ” We were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel” (Luke 24:21). The report that certain women did not find His body where He had been laid, but instead had seen a “vision of angels who said He was alive” left them confused. Jesus then “expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Him” (27). They were so taken by the instruction of this Man whom they did not recognize that they invited Him to remain with them. “Abide with us. For it is toward evening and the day is far spent” (29). Jesus remained with them. Over bread they recognized Him.
The Easter sunrise resurrection became an Easter sunset revelation! The Emmaus disciples had an Easter sunset service. They returned to Jerusalem and announced to the other disciples, “The Lord is risen indeed, and has appeared unto Simon” (34).
The sun is setting upon the nation and the world in which we live and upon the church in the world. Each ache and pain reminds us that it is setting on us as individuals. Observe the activities in the world and the nation and recognize the lies of Satan in this post-Christian age. Consider the direction that the church is going and even the challenges within our own. Recognize the weaknesses and sins in your own life. In weakness and weariness and maybe in a state of confusion we wend our way toward the sunset of life and the end of life’s day. To paraphrase, ” We thought that Jesus was the one who had destroyed the power of the devil.”
Today so much of the church and the religious world have lost their focus. It is easy for us to get caught up in the flurry of activity and empty religiousity. In the necessary confessional challenges that confront us regularly it is not surprising if in the thick of such challenges we are overwhelmed by events so that the message is momentarily forgotten. Surely, Jesus had explained to the Emmaus disciples what would happen to Him, and that He would rise again. They had heard it, but events overwhelmed them, so much so that they did not even recognize Him when He walked with them. He touched their heart with the Word.
Most graciously, He has left us with his Word. When we hear we remember. Our Lord was, crucified, dead and buried. “On the third day He rose again from the dead.” Jesus lives. He has overcome the devil as He said. Because He lives, we who believe in Him have life and shall live. At the end of the dark night of this life, we shall bask in the brightness of the Son before the throne of the Father. It is God’s promise. “Beloved, now we are the children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is” (1 John 3:2). Heaven!
That Word of God makes our heart burn within us. Maybe at the end of the day we should have an Easter sunset service! May the message of the Easter sunrise service – “Christ lives, the victory’s won – translate into a regular invitation, “Abide with us, for it is toward evening and the day is far spent.”