THE HOUR OF TRIUMPH
John 20:1,2- "The first day of the week cometh Mary
Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchure, and
seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre. Then she runneth,
and cometh to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus
loved, and saith unto them, They have taken away the Lord out of
the sepulchre, and we know not where they have laid him.""
Surely you have noticed
something different this morning. There was something different
about the air when we woke up; it seemed so much lighter,
fresher, and more invigorating. The people were different when
they came to church. It seems everyone is smiling and wearing
new clothes and hats. Flowers made their appearance among the
worshipers going to church.
Even the church bells seemed to
be pealing forth with more joyous and happy sound. You organ was
different too, with its happy and cheerful music. And the
singing! Almost everyone has joined in the joyous singing with a
new zest. We are somewhat like people who have come through a
long, dark tunnel, and suddenly we see a beautiful scene laying
before us. The sermon will be different also. We have been
listening to sermons on "The Solemn Hours of Lent". We intend to
drop the word "solemn" this morning. A new time, a new word, a
new hour has arrived. It is the hour for which we have all been
waiting. It is the time of triumph for our Lord and Savior Jesus
Christ. On this glorious Easter Day, let us consider then,
hour of triumph
I. A Dark Night
Mary Magdalene came early,
"when it was yet dark." This just about expresses the condition
of her heart also, for she brought with her a darkness of soul
and mind. She was not the only one with the darkness of the
night in her spirit. There were many others. Think a moment of
the mother of Jesus. The last picture she had of her Son was to
see Him hanging on a cross between two thieves. Mary was
experiencing what old Simeon had foretold so long ago, "Yea, a
sword shall pierce through thine own soul also." How dark these
hours work for Mary, the mother of Jesus. The apostle John, no
doubt, was with Mary, for Jesus entrusted His mother to his
care. He must have shared the blackness and gloom of Mary.
And poor Peter! All he could think
of were his own words, "I know not the man." After someone dies,
you invariably think of the unkind things you said and did when
he was alive. What would Peter not have given just to be able to
ask the Lord for forgiveness and to tell Him that he was sorry.
"But it is all too late," thought Peter as he settled back into
his gloomy and black outlook.
Then what about Mary and Martha and
Lazarus? He raise Lazarus from the dead after He had made the
claim, "I am the resurrection and the life." Where was all that
now? How could He be the "life" when He Himself was dead? What
a pall settled over the hearts and minds of so many people! "So
the enemies finally one. All the promises of Jesus were just so
many words. He had us all fooled." These thoughts must to run
through the minds of many, and must have added more blackness to
their dark night of grief and sorrow. Even if Jesus had not been
the Messiah, but just a friend of the disciples, it would still
have been a dark time for them. They all loved Him. A funeral
is not a time of joy.
But what made their saw row so
intense was not only the loss of a friend, but of the hope of
Israel. They spent three important years of their lives
following in believing in Him. Of course, they could not imagine
such a thing happening. Hardly anyone believed that Jesus would
Look at Mary Magdalene, who
brought darkness with her "when it was yet dark." She had been
cured by Jesus when He casts seven devils out of her. From then
on she served Him with full devotion and a heart full of faith in
Jesus as the promised Savior. She was numbered among the
faithful women who served Jesus with her time and money. She
stood by while Jesus was being crucified; she watched him being
buried. Can you imagine the darkness which settled over her soul
when they buried Jesus and, with Him, all her hopes? Worst than
that, things became blacker! "They have taken away the Lord out
of the sepulcher, and we know not where they have laid him," she
reported to Peter and John. "Could they not even let His body
lie and decency? Must they desecrate His grave? Won't they
please let my lord alone?" Must have been her gloomy thoughts on
this dark Easter morn. She would have been satisfied to find
Jesusí dead body, to finish embalming Him, to perform a last act
of love and devotion to Him. She was looking for a dead body and
even that was now denied her. Her so must have been darker than
the night in which she came.
Ah! Loyal women! We see you
standing beside the cross during the Lord's bitter agony. You
were the last ones at the cross and the first ones at the tomb on
Easter morning "when it was yet dark."
II. A Gray Dawn
The darkness must yield, and if
you will look closer, you'll be able to see a faint light coming
from the east. The dawn is coming. Just a little gray at first,
but darn nevertheless. With the dawn comes a little light. This
is the first day of the week; the Sabbath is gone, and with it is
gone the Old Testament forever. A new day is about to break.
The first glimmer of light shows a stone rolled away from the
tomb of our Lord.
Mary Magdalene new that the
disciples never thought of the idea of stealing the body and then
trying to bolster up their benighted soul with a lie that He rose
from the dead. How could they ever expect anyone to except such
a ridiculous statement! Mary was in the confidence of the
disciples, and she knew they were all hiding somewhere "for fear
of the Jews." So the disciples had nothing to do with the rolled
A little more reasoning which
showed that the enemies did not take the body. This is the very
thing they were trying to prevent with their watch. They were
trying to keep that stone in front of the tomb so that there
would be an end to all the claims of Jesus. Then all the Jews
could settle back into religious peace once more. If any glimmer
of light and hope was beginning to rise and some darkened souls.
A later on there were rumors spread among the disciples that
Jesus had risen from the dead. The women said they saw Jesus,
but, of course all this was considered as old wives tales. "Rise
from the dead? What a ridiculous statement to make," some of
them must have thought. But then it was reported that Angels
were at the tomb, and they had solemnly stated that He was not in
the tomb anymore, but alive again. The Angels even invited them
to inspect the place where the Lord had lain.
Certainly these things were not
definitely believed, but the dawn of truth was coming into their
minds. Although the minds of the disciples were very confused at
this time and nothing was very clear, yet some light was
beginning to shine through in the gray dawn of Easter morning.
III. The Glorious Light
The dawn does not last long.
It is a short period between night and light. Soon the glorious
sun appeared on that first Easter Day, and with it, all the
glorious light of the truth. Mary said, "They have taken away
the Lord out of the sepulcher, and we know not where they have
laid him." Do not believe her, dearly beloved. We do not mean
to say that Mary is a liar, but she's speaking out of the dark
night. A little later she came back and wept in front of the
tomb and told the Angels the same story. When she turned
slightly, she noticed a man standing near her. When He said to
her, "Mary!" she turned in amazement and said, "Master!" Now
believe her! Now trust her that she saw her dear Lord again.
She had seen Him laid away in the tomb. She was not an error
now, she knew her Lord. The full light of Easter had struck her
darkened soul. With amazing suddenness, a weight was lifted from
her spirit. All past sorrow was forgotten. Sorrow was turned
into happiness, "O holy joy of Easter! My Savior lives! All my
former darkened thoughts were wrong," cried out her enlighten
soul. To Mary was given the honor of being the first human to
see Jesus alive again.
We can almost see their eyes
blinking as the glorious light of Easter shown on the others.
Jesus appeared to the women, to Peter, to the Emmaus disciples,
to the eleven, and even to more than five hundred brethren at
once. The appearance of Jesus alone could make such a
transformation among such a dejected group of people. Oh, how
wonderful is the light and warmth of the Easter truth! Nearly
all the disciples gave up their lives testifying to the truth
that Jesus rose from the dead. Only if they were absolutely
convinced of the Resurrection, would they have been able and
willing to do such a thing.
The hour of triumph! It was a triumph for
Jesus. He too, went through some very dark hours, but now the
light is here. All the debts of sand were paid; all that the
Father had given Him to do was done; the last enemy, death, has
been conquered. By the Resurrection of Jesus from the dead, God
has declared the world free from sin. God is at peace with man.
So we share in Jesusí hour of triumph, Jesusí victory is our
victory; Jesusí Resurrection is our Resurrection. Is there a
life after death? All people and all religions believe it.
Christ proved it by rising from the dead.
Are you happy today? If not,
you are still in the dark night before Easter. All who believe
that in Christ's sufferings and death and Resurrection they have
eternal life and are very happy people. Smile, dear friends! A
frown, along face, sad looks or poor advertisements for the
joyous faith and hope that you are supposed to have and enjoy.
Fifty-two times a year we celebrate this wonderful triumph.
Every time we have church on the first day of the week, we do it
in remembrance of this hour of triumph and light.
We need never again to worry
about the future. No matter what happens to us in life, we are
assured of eternal life in the glory by faith in Christ. Do not
come in darkness to this tomb of Jesus, for the stone is rolled
away, the Easter light is here. The Easter light will shine in
the world long after our graves are forgotten in the grave stones
worn away. As long as the world stands, the people of God will
find their greatest joy and happiness in a wonderful Easter light
of Him who is "the resurrection and the life."
Someday we shall all pass
through the dark valley of the shadow of death. This is a dark
interior world. The evening of death will come. Then, suddenly,
we shall see the risen Savior and all His glorious light, and we
shall dwell with Him in the Father in the Holy Ghost in all
eternity. Face-to-face we shall then see the same Lord that Mary
and the disciples saw. We shall see these women and disciples
and all the other redeemed children of God. We too, shall then
have our eternal hour of triumph. Hallelujah! Amen.
O victorious Lord and Savior
Jesus Christ, Thou didst dispel the gloom of the grave and didst
arise with the brightest of glories. To thee belongs the honor,
glory, triumph and victory. May we also rise from the darkness of
sin and despair, and rise to shine with Thee in glory and
splendor. O Father, Son, and Spirit, to Thee alone do we give al
the glory and honor. But especially today do we rejoice in the
majestic triumph of our dear Savior over all our enemies. Holy
Spirit, let us see our Savior's risen face by faith. May we
reflect some of His light in our faces on this, His day of
triumph. Made this victory and try and be proclaimed with power
and might throughout the ends of the earth, that many more may
accept Jesusí offering by faith, and be saved forever. Truly,
thou art the Resurrection and Life may we serve Thee all our days
and enter in with Thee into eternal triumph. Amen.