What word would you use to describe an Easter Sonrise Service?Glorious, Marvelous, Magnificence, Awesome, Inspiring, Wonderful. Worshipful.
No single word can capture all that we feel, experience, contemplated and yet they come close.
For a number of years now, right after Christmas I begin asking God for a “Word”. Not some prophet message, no I ask Him for a single word to use as a lens for the next year. I single word to provide context to life experiences during the year. This year the word God gave me is Immanuel – which is cool because it’s really three words in one. “God with us.” During High – High’s like a walk on the beach, to Low – Low’s sitting in a Doctor’s office and every experience in between I try to make the most of the experience in the context of my word. Whether it’s playing with Grandchildren or paying bills – I try to experience it in the context of “Immanuel”.
So this year when I started thinking about this meditation, this message. I started wondering if there a single word from the Easter Story, from the Passion of Christ that could add significant meaning to the events themselves. I single word that could heighten the experience we call Easter.
So I started: Thinking about Easter.
Thinking about Christ.
Thinking about the cross.
Thinking about the the tomb.
Thinking about the rock being rolled away.
Thinking about angels asking the women who went to the tomb. Why are you looking among the dead for someone who is alive? He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead!
Is there a word that repeats itself in Easter story? And I found one…
Innocent – I found the word innocent repeated twice and implied once in the Passion Story.
Let me show you:
In the 26th chapter of Matthew we pick up the Passion of Christ, the Easter story with Peter at the end of the chapter denying Jesus three times and the chapter ends with… And he went away, weeping bitterly. We hang our heads with Peter wondering if we would have acted any differently. AND THEN at the beginning of chapter 27 in Matthew we read this account.
1 Very early in the morning the leading priests and the elders of the people met again to lay plans for putting Jesus to death. 2 Then they bound him, led him away, and took him to Pilate, the Roman governor. When Judas, who had betrayed him, realized that Jesus had been condemned to die, he was filled with remorse. So he took the thirty pieces of silver back to the leading priests and the elders. 4 “I have sinned,” he declared, “for I have betrayed an innocent man. “What do we care?” they retorted. “That’s your problem.”
Innocent – I have betrayed an innocent man. Innocent.
In the gospel of Luke after being flogged and mocked while hanging from the cross being crucified, YES, INNOCENCE being crucified. Jesus speaks three different times.
First, while INNOCENCE is hanging, nailed to a tree HE prays. “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.:
Soldier gambled for his clothes
THE CROWD, THE RELIGIOUS LEADERS, THE SOLDIERS, THE CRIMINALS hanging on either side of him they ALL MOCKED JESUS, THEY all MOCKED INNOCENCE. BUT THEN…. When….
One of the criminals hanging beside him scoffed, “So you’re the Messiah, are you? Prove it by saving yourself—and us, too, while you’re at it!”
40 BUT the other criminal protested, “Don’t you fear God even when you have been sentenced to die? 41 We deserve to die for our crimes, but this man hasn’t done anything wrong.” DID YOU HEAR IT – INNOCENT! this man hasn’t done anything wrong.”
42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.”
43 And Jesus replied [NO INNOCENCE nails to a tree, INNOCENCE hanging from a cross, INNOCENCE REPLIED, “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.
We pick up the PASSION OF CHRIST, the EASTER Story at verse 44 and we are told:
By this time it was about noon, and darkness fell across the whole land until three o’clock. 45 The light from the sun was gone. And suddenly, the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn down the middle.
AND THEN JESUS
NO, THEN INNOCENCE shouted, “Father, I entrust my spirit into your hands!” And with those words he breathed his last. When the Roman officer overseeing the execution saw what had happened, he worshiped God and said, “Surely this man was innocent.” INNOCENT.
A traitor calls Jesus INNOCENT
A criminal implies JESUS is INNOCENT
A enemy soldier, WORSHIPS OUR GOD and declares, “Surely this man was innocent.”
This Easter hear this truth.
Jesus is every thing we are not.
Romans 3:10 says; “No one is righteous – not even one.
Romans 3:23 says; “For everyone had sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.
BUT NOT JESUS.
NOT THE RESURECTTED ONE.
JESUS DIED, INNOCENCE DIED
JESUS ROSE AGAIN, INNOCENCE ROSE FROM THE GRAVE.
So we can become everything HE is: INNOCENT.
AS WE CLOSE THIS SERVICE,
AS WE WATCH THE SUN RISE
Hear these words written years after JESUS’ resurrection by the author of the book of Hebrews!
Therefore he is able, once and forever, to save those who come to God through him. He lives forever to intercede with God on their behalf. 26 He is the kind of high priest we need because he is holy and blameless, unstained by sin. INNOCENT. He has been set apart from sinners and has been given the highest place of honor in heaven. 27 Unlike those other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices every day. They did this for their own sins first and then for the sins of the people. But Jesus did this once [But Jesus did it] for all when he offered himself as the sacrifice for the people’s sins.
Peter in 1 Pet. 2:24 wrote:
“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree”.
BE MINDFUL AGAIN – INNOCENCE wants us to experience INNOCENCE.
BE MINDFUL AGAIN – JESUS wants us to experience
Lord Jesus as we close this EASTER SONRISE SERVICE another word comes to my mind to describe it.
OVERWHELMED BY YOUR MERCY
OVERWHELMED BY YOUR GRACE
OVERWHELMED BY YOUR LOVE
OVERWHELMED BY the fact that well we where yet sinners, you died for us.
OVERWHELMED BY the fact that IF we believe that you call us Righteous. You can us INNOCENT.
Thank you for the WORD that runs through the Easter story.
Thank you for the WORD that runs now in our hearts, and our minds, and our souls.