No man ever impacted the world like the one called the Lord Jesus Christ. He was unique in every way we could possibly understand.
The prophets saw him rise up out of the distant future. His lineage stretched out all the way back to God Himself. Never a man spake like this man. For his word was with power. He healed the sick. He fed 5000 with 5 loaves and 2 fish. He spoke and the wind and waves obeyed his voice. He opened blind eyes, unstopped deaf ears, restored lame legs and cleansed the lepers. He did so many miracles that it was said that if everything he did was written, the world could not contain the volumes.
But these weren’t even the most important things. He was God manifest in the flesh. “In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God and the word was God.” “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.”
So how is it that this man of all men, this God-man, this miracle-worker, found himself standing in Pilate’s judgment hall, in custody of the Romans, facing a capital sentence?
How is it that despite everything He did to bring healing, peace, love and forgiveness to a hurting world that He ended up treated like a common criminal, a vile piece of flesh worthy of the worst form of punishment known to man?
It began early, possibly around 6:30 am.
Then led they Jesus from Caiaphas unto the hall of judgment: and it was early; and they themselves went not into the judgment hall, lest they should be defiled; but that they might eat the passover.
They beat his back until the blood ran freely. They pushed a crown of thorns into his brow. Next came the purple robe, the slapping, the mockery and then the presentation of Him to the crowd.
The crowd screamed, “Crucify Him; Crucify Him!” Pilate hesitated, saying, “I find no fault in Him.” But in the end, the crowd won out. The cowardly Pilate, thinking about his political fortunes, caved in.
At about 9 o’clock Friday morning, the parade began from Pilate’s judgment hall to Golgatha. The weakened Jesus carried his heavy cross. They reached the crest of the hill. The soldiers threw Jesus down on the splintered wood and pounded the nails into his hands and feet. You know the heartbreaking story. They dropped the cross into the ground. Jesus hung there for hours as the life slowly ebbed out of Him.
About 12 Noon, something strange happened. The sun, normally bright in the sky at this time of year, lost its intensity. Darkness covered the Jerusalem sky. Three more hours passed while he agonized on the tree.
Finally, it was all over. Many other details fill in the gaps of the story, but the overarching question is why. Why did this happen? Why did it happen to the only perfect man who ever lived?
He didn’t go there for himself. He went there for someone else. He went there for me. He went there for you. He went there so he could taste of suffering and death in our place.
Hebrews 4:15 (KJV) For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.
He knew of the pain and suffering in your life.
Many of you are in Day One.
Abused, rejected, hurting, humiliated.
Denied justice, surrounded by enemies, falsely accused.
Beaten, hungry, lonely, scared.
Abandoned, powerless, stunned.
Here is a Christ you can believe in, because he knows exactly what you are going through!
A boy was having difficulty living the Christian life! He went to his pastor who told him to go see a painting. The caretaker at the gallery took him to a large room where the painting adorned an entire wall.
The young man was repulsed at what he saw!
It was a painting of Christ on the cross! But the perspective from which the artist painted it was off balance.
It looked grotesque.
The caretaker said, “Son, you need to get closer.” The young man came closer.
“Son, you need to get lower.”
The young man got lower.
“No, closer and lower.”
Before the young man knew what was happening- - he was kneeling at the foot of the cross!
And when he looked up- - he understood the entire painting!
Until you are willing to take your place at the foot of the
cross- - the Christian life will never make sense to you either!
Matthew 27:62-66 (KJV)
62 Now the next day, that followed the day of the preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate,
63 Saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again.
64 Command therefore that the sepulchre be made sure until the third day, lest his disciples come by night, and steal him away, and say unto the people, He is risen from the dead: so the last error shall be worse than the first.
65 Pilate said unto them, Ye have a watch: go your way, make it as sure as ye can.
66 So they went, and made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch.
If day one was a day of crucifixion and death, day two was a day of living with personal tragedy.
Jesus was the hope of the world. Now he is dead and buried.
The disciples were overwhelmed with grief and loss, but added to their sorrow was that they were confused. They seemed like dupes for believing in Jesus as the Jewish Messiah.
I read recently that most people live on Saturday, Day Two. It is the no-name day between Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday. Nothing happens on Saturday. It’s the hurry up and wait day.
You’ve tried to believe but it looks like you were let down. You’ve tried to change, but it just hasn’t worked for you. Many sitting here today can relate to the Saturday between. You started out with high hopes, but it all came to nothing. It’s over now, and they tell you you’re going to have to adjust. But, after what’s happened, how can you go on?
You’re devastated. You’re disillusioned. You’re numb. Let me intrude on your thoughts long enough to tell you something…the middle ground between two points on the spectrum will not last forever. Just because you can’t see the end, don’t think it’s all over.
“Weeping endureth for the night, but joy cometh in the morning.”
Yes, Jesus lies in the tomb today, but don’t think that everything is lost. You don’t know what he is doing. The body was dead, but the executioners did not kill the Spirit of God that inhabited the body of Jesus. The Spirit of God was poised, ready to return to that body and bring it back to life.
They did not lay Jesus in that tomb without a promise of the resurrection.
Mark 8:31 (KJV)
31 And he began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.
Hold on, my friend! You have a promise that God will make good. Something is in the works for you, if you will just hold on. You may see death, but there’s life in that tomb. Everything may look monotonously the same, but there’s an earthquake under the ground just waiting for heaven’s signal! God has angels on assignment who are about ready to show up!
The pre-dawn hours of Easter Sunday saw a stir on the path to the Garden Tomb. They had no idea of the power and the glory they were about to experience.
Matthew 28:1-7 (KJV) In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre.
2 And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it.
3 His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow:
4 And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men.
5 And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified.
6 He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. 7 And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you.
Mission accomplished. The price had been paid. The Lamb had been sacrificed. Sinless blood had been shed. Everything Jesus came to do to bring us forgiveness and remission of sins was done. And now, something was unleashed that would never again be assaulted by death, hell and the grave.
Much later, Jesus told John in Revelation 1:17-18
18 I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.
The resurrection was the triumphant blow against the kingdom of Satan. Martin Luther said, “If you are seeking proof of the resurrection, you need look no farther than the brand new leaf that the branch brings forth in the springtime.”
The Apostle Paul put it like this: Death has been swallowed up in victory!” I like that. It not only tells the truth, it does it with an attitude!
In a very real sense, all of us mirror these three days that changed the world. Some of you are here today staggering from the tragedy of your life. Some of you are just trying to cope with things, but you’re numb. Maybe you’re bitter, angry, resentful. But there are many of you who have had a giant stone rolled away from your entombment. You and Jesus issued a surprise to Satan as he prematurely danced on your grave. “Death has been swallowed up in victory!”
If you are here today wondering what you are going to do about your misery and suffering, let me tell you need to do. You need to rip day one off the calendar. You need to rip day two off the calendar. You need to put a big red circle around day three to signify your triumph!
Here is what these three days mean to you: In the words of Paul:
1 Corinthians 15:3-4 (KJV) For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;
4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:
Acts 2:37-38 (KJV)
37 Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?
38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
Day One: Crucifixion. You need to repent of your sins.
Day Two: Burial. Be baptized in the Name of Jesus.
Day Three: Receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
Until you do these things, the resurrection is only a story.
Leonard Sweet writes: “Today, “death is dead.” These words are spoken by Lazarus in a play written by Eugene O’Neill called “Lazarus Laughed.” Lazarus is facing Caligula, the Roman emperor. But instead of begging for mercy, Lazarus laughs. And the chorus shouts, “Laugh! Laugh! Fear is no more! Death is dead!”
Did you hear it? “Death is dead.” Whatever is killing you right now, whatever grave clothes have trapped and wrapped themselves around you like a python, whatever straightjackets you find yourself in, you can escape. You can walk into the light and experience the miracle of life. “Death is dead.” And because “death is dead,” there is a new world of new possibilities for all of humanity.”