Sermon at Kinmundy United Methodist Church on 04-28-19.
First Things: Early In The Morning Luke 24:1-11, Mark 16:1-14
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QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION: Let’s have a conversation! Please reflect upon the questions below as you consider the material
presented above. In a comment, share your thoughts and additional questions. What would you like to know?
What grabbed your attention?
What is the human need or problem?
What questions do you have about any quotes provided?
Does the Bible say anything about this?
What solutions do you see for the problem?
What specifically could we begin to do to make a change?
What time is it?
Well, there’s two understandings of time. The first one is Chronos, which is clock time and that’s the time we see when we look on our watch. My entire adult life, I’ve had a watch with the calendar date on it. Do you know why? I can never remember what date it is. Apparently, there are people worse than me because they make watches like this one, a very expensive watch. It’s there to remind someone it’s actually Friday. You wouldn’t think a person would have trouble remembering it’s Friday, but apparently, there are people who can’t keep that straight. That’s clock time. When you look at your watch, you see what time it is.
But there’s another kind of time, it’s called event time. It’s called Kairos time. When all the church members are looking at their watch during the sermon, the pastor knows it’s time to wind it up. See it’s not the time on the clock. It’s the time of what’s happening. I’d like to introduce you to some good friends of mine. These are zebras. What time is it? They have no clue – Chronos! – But they know it’s lunchtime – Kairos. There are two ways of understanding time, one is the clock and the calendar, but the other is what is happening and the meaning of what is happening.
Friends, I want to share with you some of those beautiful words that have ever been written on the topic of Easter. Sociologist Tony Campolo is the first place I had these words. He talked about his pastor standing up and preaching the sermon that went on for an hour. But it was about this theme of Sunday’s coming. It’s Friday. But Sunday’s coming.
I didn’t realize until I did some more research, that Dr. Campolo’s pastor was not actually the person who had first preached that. He was using that other sermon as a means to move on. But these words originally come from SM Lockridge. I found out his initials stand for Shadrach Meshach, the name of two of the young Hebrews that were thrown into the fire in the book of Daniel. He lived from 1913 to 2000. He was a pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in San Diego from 1953 to 1993. And at some point in time, these words were a part of his sermon on Easter Sunday morning. Hey, we’re not a black church, but I’d like to invite you to join me in their style of worship. Do you see that very big, bright, italic print? When we get to that point in the sermon, I want you to tell me those words. Let’s practice. Are you ready?
But… Sunday’s coming.
You see. After a bit of practice, we may be able to do that. You’re ready?
But… Sunday’s coming.
But… Sunday’s coming.
Friends, it’s Friday.
Oh, you’re getting ahead there. This is the problem of knowing the end of the story. We want to jump right past Friday and get right to the happy ending. But we need to stick with Friday just for a little bit. It’s Friday, in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus is praying. Peter is sound asleep. Judas is betraying. It’s only Friday, but it’s Friday. Pilate is struggling. The Sanhedrin is conspiring. The crowd is defying, but they don’t even know that it’s Friday and the Disciples are running in every direction like sheep without a shepherd. Mary is crying. Peter’s denying, but they don’t know that– Sunday’s coming.
Seeing Jesus walking to Calvary, carrying the cross. His blood is dripping. His body is stumbling and his spirit is burdened. That’s what Friday is like, but you see, it’s only Friday. Sunday’s coming.
It’s Friday. The world is winning, people are sinning, and evil is grinning. It’s Friday. The soldiers nail my Savior’s hands to the cross. They nail my Savior’s feet to the cross, then they raise him up next to criminals. It’s Friday, but let me tell you something. It’s only Friday. It’s Friday. Hope is lost. Death has won. Sin has conquered and Satan’s laughing.
It is Friday. Jesus is buried. A soldier stands guard and a rock is rolled into place. It’s only Friday.
It’s Friday. Jesus is dead on the cross, but that’s because it’s Friday. That’s what happens on Friday, but brothers and sisters I am here to give you the good news. It’s only Friday, but–
Sunday’s coming. Now, what happened when that Sunday came first thing in the morning? Remember chronos time; the sun starts to come up and the women wake up because it’s time to get up. It’s clock time to get up. When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Salome, those three women brought spices so they might go and anoint the body of Jesus.
And very early on the first day of the week, they went to the tomb when the sun had risen and they were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone from the door of the tomb?”
Let me ask this question. What time is it? You know clock time it’s Sunday morning, but what time is it for them? With regard to event time. With regard to where their minds are focused. With regard to what they are thinking. Friends I want to tell you, it’s still Friday. They’re focused on Jesus dying on the cross, Jesus being and what they now need to do. For them, it’s still Friday. Sunday hasn’t come yet for them. 4th verse, and looking up, they saw that the stone was rolled back. It was very large. Entering the tomb they saw a young man sitting on the right side dressed in a white robe, and they were amazed.
And they said to them, “Do not be amazed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth who was crucified.” You’re looking for someone who’s dead. You know why? Because it’s still Friday. The angel’s saying to them, “It’s a new day. You’re stuck on Friday. You need to break loose of Friday and understand: this is Sunday. He is risen. He is not here. Look at the place. See the place where they laid him.” You see, they’re having a little dispute here about what day it is. Is Jesus still on the cross dying and dead, or is it Sunday?
Let’s find out. And the angel goes on to say this, verse 7, but go tell His disciples and Peter that He is going before you to Galilee, there you will see Him as He told you. Verse 8, read it with me. They went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had come upon them, and they said nothing to anyone for they were afraid. Pastors don’t always preach on that on Easter Sunday morning. It wasn’t easy for them to believe.
Friends, sometimes it’s not easy for us to believe. At this time on Sunday morning, for them, in their hearts, it’s still Friday. It’s only Friday. But for them, it’s still Friday, and they’re filled with fear. And they have no idea what to do. Have you ever felt like that? Just totally immobilized with the reality that you have no idea what to do. That’s what Friday is like. It’s Friday for them.
Verse 9, Mark goes on. And when He rose early on the first day of the week, He appeared first to Mary Magdalene – you can read about that in John – from whom He had cast out seven demons. She went and told those who’d been with Him as they mourned and wept– you see, it was still Friday for everyone else.
She went to tell them. Verse 11, read it with me: But when they heard that He was alive and had been seen by her, they would not believe it. It’s hard to let go of Friday. What time is it? It’s still Friday in their minds. It’s still Friday.
Over here in Luke, we see more of the same, slightly different, but more of the same. On the first day of the week at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices which they had prepared. You see? They’re still ready to take care of the dead Jesus. What does Jesus need from me? He needs spices. He needs wrapping, because He’s dead. They’re still focused on Friday. But when they get there, verse two, they found the stone rolled away from the tomb. But when they went in, they did not find the body. And they were perplexed. They were confused.
While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. And, as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them – read it with me – “Why do you seek the living among the dead?” Remember how he told you while he was still in Galilee …
“Why do you seek the living among the dead?” Why do you still think it’s Friday? It’s not Friday. It’s Sunday. He told you. And it wasn’t until the angel reminded them that they remembered. He told you! Verse 7, “But the son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and, on the third day, rise.” He told them, and they weren’t paying attention. Does that ever happen to us? Yes, it does.
But once they were reminded, verse 8, they remembered his words. They remembered what Jesus said. Verse 9, “And returning from the tomb, they told all of this to the eleven and to all the rest.” Who were these women? This was Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them who told this to the Apostles. But the Apostles, verse 11 – read it with me – “But these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them.”
Thank God we live in a slightly different culture than at that time because, nowadays, every now and then men will actually listen to the women, especially when the women bring good news. It’s Friday for the Apostles. They’re stuck. They don’t believe. They can’t let go of Friday and realize that God is doing something new, in Jesus. Mark 16:12, “After this, he appeared in another form to two of them.” That’s the two men who walk to Emmaus. And they were walking back into the country. You can read about that in Luke. And those two men went back and told the rest, but they did not believe them. By now, you have to think they’re just feeling a little bit frustrated, “What’s wrong with all these crazy people telling us that he’s alive? We know better. Dead is dead.”
Then, verse 14, finally, He appears to them, “Afterward, He appeared to the eleven themselves as they sat at the table, and He upbraided them for their unbelief and hardness of heart because they had not believed those who saw Him after He has risen.”
You see, friends? Friday sticks with us. It pulls us down into a black hole. And it’s hard for us to rise up out of that hole. We need to ask ourselves what day it is. When you’re in the middle of a Friday, you need to recognize it and be able to say, “This is only Friday.”
It’s not the way it happened. But now I wish that I had this sermon in mind on Wednesday when I stood in the cemetery for a graveside funeral of my friend Jim, so that I could say quietly to myself, “It’s only Friday.”
I wish I could tell you that I had this sermon in mind so that, when I stood in the hospital room last Thursday with my friend Lillie, I could say to shocked and sorrowful people, “It’s only Friday. You have to get through Friday. You have to get through Friday. You need to remember what time it is.” Because here’s the reality. There will be sorrow and troubles in this world.
If Jesus died upon the cross– Jesus, who we understand was sinless. If the most moral and good human being died, there’s going to be a Friday. We believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. You cannot get more pull than that. But even Jesus Christ died. So, if even Jesus Christ experienced a Friday, friends, you and I are going to experience a Friday, too. We live in the Valley of the Shadow of Death. But it’s only Friday. And something we need to keep in mind, when we find ourselves in the middle of Friday, is that, whatever your troubles are, they’re only going to last for a Friday.
Hang on. Have hope. “Believe in God. Believe also in me,” Jesus encouraged them (John 14). And remember this, “It’s only Friday, but– Sunday’s coming.”
Lord Jesus, may Sunday come to us in the midst of our Fridays. Give us the strength to hang on. Give us the power of mind to continue to believe when everything pulls us to despair, pulls us to be afraid, pulls us out of light into the darkness or the deep hole that is a Friday. Remind us, Lord, that Sunday is coming and help us to be ready for new life to spring up out of the grave when Sunday comes to us in the form of a new beginning, of a new medical treatment, of news from the doctor that makes us happy. However it comes, Lord, help us to hope and to be ready for Sunday’s coming. Amen. Amen.
The photo is by Johnson Watch, “Montblanc Watches 4810 Day-Date,” Public Domain, via https://www.flickr.com/photos/johnsonwatchco/31688928946.
This post is based on the sermon “First Things: Early In The Morning” Luke 24:1-11, Mark 16:1-14 on 4/28/19, at Kinmundy United Methodist Church.
Slides and audio for this message can be downloaded from http://www.disciplewalk.com/K_Sermons_2019_January.html
All Scripture quotations are from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1946, 1952, and 1971 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.