Easter Sunrise — Victory!
John 19:28-30, — I want to briefly look back to that Passover Friday; the one we call “Good Friday”, where we read this account of events: “knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. Wow! What a powerful image that is. “It looked like evil was going to win!”
There are a great number of times in Scripture when it looked like evil was going to win:
Adam & Eve in the Garden of Eden; God had provided them with everything they needed or would ever need. They were going to live forever in the beautiful, totally self-sufficient garden of God! They were blessed far beyond anything that they could dream of! But they made a mistake in thinking that they could trust talking to a slithering, hissing, snake! So they gave in to the temptation by the Snake: they couldn’t resist trying the forbidden fruit of the knowledge of good and evil. They thought that the snake was more trustworthy than God. They thought that they knew better than God. And so; “It looked like evil was going to win!” But God said: “Oh No!” In God’s grace and mercy, He made clothes for them and cared for Adam and Eve! God gave them a second chance! Even in their sin and even though they had to suffer the consequences of their sin. Evil did not win! God’s grace won!
Joseph, the “favored son” of Jacob, famed for his coat of many colors, he was sold into slavery by his brothers because of his inflated opinion of himself and his lofty dreams. “It looked like evil was going to win!” But God said: “Oh No!” After rising to a position of 2nd in command to pharaoh & overseeing the crop production of Egypt, Joseph used the Egyptian abundance of food it to rescue the Hebrew relatives from the famine! Evil did not win! God’s grace won!
Later in this period of Hebrew history, the Egyptians became fearful of the growing number of Israelites and ordered that all male babies be thrown into the Nile: “It looked like evil was going to win!” But God said: “Oh No!” and He saved the son of Miriam:–Moses who floated down the Nile in a basket to become the adopted son of the Egyptian Princess! And he became the Prince of Egypt! Evil did not win! God’s grace won!
Later Moses and Hebrew children who were fleeing slavery in Egypt found themselves in what appeared to be a deadly trap between the Red Sea on one side and Pharos’s pursuing army on the other side; there was no way out! “It looked like evil was going to win!” But God said: “Oh No!” And God He opened a path for them right through the Red Sea and they escaped Pharos’s army and went on to the Promised Land! Evil did not win! God’s grace won!
And the Apostle Paul, who endured any number of hardships and life threatening events from imprisonments; to countless beatings; he was stoned and shipwrecked several times; and each time: “It looked like evil was winning!” But God said: “Oh No!” And Paul was able to continue to accomplish God’s purpose for him of sharing the Good News of God’s love available in Christ Jesus! Evil did not win! God’s grace won!
These are but a few of the incidents recorded in Scripture where it looked like evil was going to win. That was the sense after that first Good Friday when Jesus died on the cross. But God said: “Oh No!” as we read from the account in John’s Gospel, the 20th chapter:
1 Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. 2 So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”
The crucified Jesus was missing! Could it be that his grave had been desecrated? Could some evildoer had stolen his body from the sealed tomb? What was happening? “It looked like evil was going to win!” But God said: “Oh No!”
3 So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. 4 Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5 He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. 6 Then Simon Peter came along behind him and went straight into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, 7 as well as the cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head. The cloth was still lying in its place, separate from the linen. 8 Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed.
So, although it looked like evil had won; God said: “Oh No!” The tomb was empty! Jesus was not there! He had risen from the dead! Death has been swallowed up in victory! God’s power; God’s sovereignty; God’s rule; would not be challenged! God has power over all things! God has power over everything! That certainly includes death! Jesus has risen from the dead! What a victory! It is a victory for all of those who believe that Jesus is The Christ! A victory for all who claim Jesus as their Savior! So when it appears that evil is about to win in your life, remember that God’s grace will always win! Sisters and brothers; fellow followers of Jesus; we need to celebrate the great victory that Jesus won that first Easter morning! We need to have a victory meal! A meal hosted by our Risen Savior! So come, let us gather at His table.