Behold Those Living in Darkness
Have Seen a Great Light!
Matthew 27:11-54, 62-66; Matthew 28:1-10
I apologize for sharing so many verses this morning but so much happened in such a short space of time we did not even scratch the surface of everything happening the last couple of days before Jesus’ crucifixion. In verses 11-26, we see Jesus is before Pilate. Pilate is a governor of the region that includes Jerusalem. He has the authority to make certain decisions on his own. In this case, there was a way he could have released Jesus. However, the chief priests and elders convinced the crowd to ask for the release of Barabbas, a known killer, instead of Jesus. All the while Pilate’s wife warned him to have nothing to do with Jesus; seemingly, the Lord had made Pilate’s wife miserable so she told him to avoid dealing with Jesus any way he could. Ultimately, Pilate asked for a basin of water and in front of everyone symbolically washed his hands of any responsibility for what would happen to Jesus. Tragically, the people there said Jesus’ blood would be on them and their children. Can you imagine being willing to say to God, “We accept responsibility for Jesus’ death”? That is what the people did. What a sad example of allowing yourself to be deceived by Satan. This is an even worse example than Adam and Eve eating the fruit they should not have eaten.
After all of that, Pilate had Jesus flogged and then turned over to be crucified. We then saw how some of Pilate’s soldiers threatened Jesus. In verses 27-31, we see the horrific way the soldiers treated Jesus. They first stripped him and put a red robe on him, not a purple robe that most often symbolizes royalty. Then they made a crown of thorns and jammed it on Jesus’ head causing great pain and bleeding to occur. Then they put a staff in his hand and mockingly knelt down as if to worship a king, saying “Hail, King of Jews!” The soldiers then took the staff from Jesus and started to hit him on the head over and over again, driving the thorns deeper and deeper into his head. When they were done with their fun, they put his clothes back on him and led him out to be crucified.
Now we come to the crucifixion. In verses 32-44, it tells what happened on the way to Golgotha where Jesus is to be crucified, as well as what happened when Jesus was officially hanging on the cross. The gospels have slightly different details about these events, but the results are the same. First, Jesus has been so weakened by the beatings and abuse he has become too weak to carry his cross all the way to where he is to be crucified, so they have a man by the name of Simon carry the cross the final distance.
Once hanging on the cross, Jesus was offered a mixture that was to reduce the pain of the crucifixion but Jesus refused it. The soldiers then divided the only possession Jesus had, his clothes. Next, they mockingly hung a sign over his head that said, “The King of the Jews.” Those who had followed to watch the show then hurled insults at Jesus telling him to save himself as he had he claimed to have saved others. They continued by saying, “Let God rescue him if he wants him to live.”
Next, we read when Jesus died on the cross. Verses 45-54 tells of how things happened as Jesus died on the cross. We are told from the 6th hour, which is noon, until the 9th hour, which is of course 3 in the afternoon, there was darkness over the land. I am sure this just was not a cloudy sky. It was as if it were nighttime immediately before Jesus died on the cross.
Next, we see Jesus cries out, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Those who were watching this all unfold did not know what Jesus was saying or what it meant. They once again offered Jesus a drink on a sponge. Soon after Jesus cried out one more time; the scripture says he then gave up his spirit. Jesus has died. Immediately, the curtain that separates the average Jew from the most holy place in the temple is torn by the hand of God from the top to the bottom. Even some of those who had lived godly lives had their graves opened and came back to life, giving a preview of what would happen in just a few days. The amazing thing is the Roman guards who had been with Jesus throughout all of this realized as they saw everything that had happened that Jesus truly was the Son of God.
Moving on we read in verses 62-66 what happened next. The chief priests knew what Jesus had said earlier, that he would raise from the dead. The chief priests did not believe this could happen but were afraid the disciples would steal his body to make it look like Jesus had come back to life, so the Roman leadership said they would have the guards make the tomb secure.
What an incredible 24 hours we have looked at! I left out large major portions of what happened, and yet, I hope you got a pretty clear picture of what Jesus went through. This happened on Friday. Now a couple days have passed and it is Sunday. We read in the first 10 verses of the 28th chapter of Matthew. We see early Sunday morning the two Marys were compelled by their love and sense of loss to go to Jesus’ tomb. When they got there, they were amazed to find the stone that covered the front of the tomb had been rolled away. The guards saw the angel who had rolled the stone away, and they were so afraid they passed out as if dead. The women were greeted by the angel who told them, “Jesus is not here. He has risen from the dead.” They were told, “Jesus is going on ahead to Galilee. There you will see him.”
In spite of everything they had heard Jesus say, I do not believe they thought they would ever see Jesus again. Yet their lives and the lives of everyone who will believe were changed forever. In shock, yet filled with joy, they headed out to tell the disciples what they saw and what they had been told. Death could not hold Jesus. The chief priests did not understand that when they mockingly said to let God save Jesus, that is exactly what he would do. Not, however, until Jesus accomplished what he came to earth to do. Your sins and mine were nailed to that cross. Our sins died on that cross, never to be remembered again. That is why believers around the world continue to celebrate Easter. When out of the blue Jesus was there before them, they fell down at Jesus’ feet, probably from both shock and to worship Jesus who is alive. Jesus then calms them and says, “Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee and there I will see them.”
This morning, Easter Sunday, we celebrate what happened 2000 years ago. Not because of what we have done, but because of what God has done for us through Jesus Christ. We celebrate the empty tomb. The Friday Jesus was crucified was the darkest day in history, but Sunday came bringing the promise of abundant life while we live on this earth and an even more abundant life when we are untied with Jesus for eternity.
HALLELUJAH CHRIST IS RISEN!
Sundays: Worship 10:00 Please social distance and wear masks. We continue carrying our worship on facebook live. We are grateful that it reaches many people in and beyond our congregation.
Bible Study every Tuesday 9:30
The adult Sunday School class will not be meeting until further notice.
April 14 7:00 Executive Committee
If you would like to volunteer to mow the church yard this year, please sign up on the sheet on the bulletin or call Stacie Warren.
Donation Box: Camp Emmanuel
Annual Conference, June 30 – July 4, is going to be virtual. There will be business sessions, worship services, and insight sessions. Pastor Larry will be our delegate.
Annual Conference will be discussing a new vision statement: “Together, as the Church of the Brethren, we will passionately live and share the radical transformation and holistic peace of Jesus Christ through relationship-based neighborhood engagement. To move us forward, we will develop a culture of calling and equipping disciples who are innovative, adaptable, and fearless.”
To keep up on Church of the Brethren news:
Denomination: www.brethren.org/news Sign up for Newsline by clicking link on left side of page.
District: iwdcob.org (click on newsletter link) and on facebook
Our pages: cerrogordocob.com (printed sermon, announcements, & calendar) and on facebook
Keep in Your Prayers
Terry Marvin; Larry Albro; Mike McCleery; Tera Runyan; Holly Flenner; Carol & Mike Seidenstricker; Tim and Betty Sue Laird; Carl & Wilma Cable; Sherry Wright; Brittany Wright; Sonna Hall; Evelyn Eads; Anna Gentry Thompson; Arnold & Marlene Schultz; Clyde and Nancy Fansler; Adiline Young; Kim Lehmann; Dylan Junior; Doug Fansler; Liza Yore; Candy Dobson; Anna Rose Larrick; Gary Jesse; Norm & Marge Starr; Shawn Cain; Robert Cripe; Mayo & Darlene Hanaver; Zola Copeland and family; Patty Cripe; Lauren Gross; Stacie Warren; Nancy Gorrell; many unspoken requests; Coronavirus crisis; healthcare workers and first responders; the families of the 545,000+ people who have died from COVID-19; all who are ill with the virus; the unemployed; school teachers, staff, and students; District of IL/WI search committee; nursing home residents; our nation’s government; the Nigerian church; victims of violence
Military and Other Services and their families
Volunteer Service workers; Disaster project workers
Our Mission Statement:
Love God, grow with
others, serve faithfully, reach the lost, find peace.