Theme: Resurrection – a light shining in the darkness
Series: Easter 2021
Preacher: Phil Swain
I want to spend a little time while the kids are outside making the Easter Egg bags to explore one aspect of the Easter story. But to do so I need a volunteer to help me make my first point.
Firstly … can you read out one verse from the bible for me. Matthew 27:45. From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land.
This story is from Good Friday. Jesus is on the cross. So, let me ask you a question. Did Jesus die in the light or the dark?
The dark. Jesus died in middle of the afternoon yet – it was dark.
Now turn over the page to Matthew 28:1 and read it for us…
“After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.”
Ok … when did the women go out to the tomb? At dawn.
Easter happened at dawn. What else happens at dawn? Sunrises, birds sing? Some of you are saying, “I don’t know I avoid that time of the day”; Light, end of the night.
Let me ask you parents, have you ever had a sick child and it was a tough night. I remember one time on holidays Marion was so worried about Megan’s asthma that she stay awake listen to her breathe. Have you had a night like that? How do you feel when the dawn comes? Phew … we might not be through it but somehow it seems a little better in the daylight.
Or have you ever had a night where you were toss and turned all night – maybe you were worried about something or had a nightmare and you just weren’t settled … and then the dawn comes and somehow things seem a little better.
The dawn does that for us. Something stirs with us. It brings a sense of hope. The darkness gives way to the light.
So can you see the contrast here? Can you see the imagery in the Easter story? Jesus dies in darkness but things start to change in the light of the dawn. We talked about the darkness on Good Friday and today we have already been talking about the light. This contrast between dark and light, between the night and the dawn, between the cross and the empty tomb; between loss and hope.
The imagery of light and dark is all through the bible – right from the beginning. Genesis 1:3, first day of creation:
And God said, “Let there be (all together now) light,” and there was light.
This light was not the sun … that was created on day 4. So what was this light that God created on day 1? I think this light was from God himself – it is the light that brings life and hope, it the light that all things need. You can’t have life without this light from God.
If we go to the end of the bible in the book of Revelation 22, God obliterates darkness completely. He says that we won’t need a lamp or the sun because God is our light.
“Never again will night appear, and no one who lives there will ever need a lamp or the sun. The Lord God will be their light…” Rev 22:5
This idea of God being our light is all through the bible. For example, Psalm 119:105 – God’s word is like a light on our path to show the way. Psalm 27:1 – The Lord is my light and my salvation; and Psalm 18:28 – God turns my darkness into light.
Or we could turn to Isaiah 9:2 and the Christmas prophecy
The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned
This is the promise of Messiah. In Isaiah chapter 58 – the promise of the messiah is described as the light of dawn after a long night – and when you cry out for help, God will say to you, “I am here”
All this is pointing to Jesus – whose birth John describes like this in John 1:8, “The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world”. John also says that this light will shine into the darkness and the darkness will not overcome it.
To understand the light, we also need to talk about darkness.
The bible uses the imagery of darkness to describe people who says thanks but no thanks to Jesus, to his love, to his mercy, to his leadership, to his presence … the bible says that they are living in the darkness. Actually the bible uses darkness to describe anything in this life or this world which are not good.
Just for 90 seconds, I want you to turn the people around you and just tell them the darkest place you have ever been?
90 Second discussion…
What sort of answers do we have?
- I lost my bedroom once because it was so dark.
- Haunted house?
Did anyone go a different direction with this?
- When my brother died
- When I was bullied as a kid.
We know about darkness, don’t we? And sometimes the darkness is really dark. Sometimes you have been on the receiving end of things are really dark that nobody else knows about. It is hard. And sometimes the darkness can be subtle, something that has taken hold in your heart – like bitterness or unforgiveness. We know about darkness.
As I shared on at our Good Friday … I know I supposed to be perfect as the pastor here but I’m not … I have experience those moments of darkness too … we all know darkness. But this is where the Easter story becomes so real for us all. In it into this problem of darkness that God sends Jesus.
And it is in this context that Jesus said these amazing word from John 8:12 – Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
Jesus is saying, “You need my life, my light for you to survive”
The story of Good Friday is Jesus saying, “You can’t get out of this dark place without help … I am the light … let me help you”
And Jesus as the light – always overpowers the darkness. When Jesus the light comes into your life, the darkness cannot remain. Darkness has no power of its own, darkness is only the absence of light.
And so on Good Friday, Jesus takes all the darkness of the world onto himself. And died. What was the last thing I did on Good Friday – I blew out the candle and said that Jesus – the light of the world – has died. And we were left in darkness.
But the dark night doesn’t last forever. We see a fair ray of sunrise break across the sky … the night is ending. The women come to the tomb and see that the stone is rolled away, and hope is stirred. The sky begins to brighten as we remember that Jesus said that this is what was supposed to happen, Jesus – was handed over the authorities and was killed … but three days later he would rise again – and hope is stirred.
And light continues to spill across the sky and we wonder whether we can also find healing for the darkness in our lives. Can we really find peace and healing? And more rays spill across the sky. It is getting lighter by the second. It is not as cold anymore, the air is warming.
We step up to the open tomb. There seems to be light coming from inside. Is it Jesus? No – it is an angel in bright garment. More light. More hope is stirred.
The angel speaks – “Why are you looking in the place of the dead for someone who is alive? Why are you looking in the darkness for the light?
The dawn breaks – the sun shines all around us. The new day has come. Where here the good news
Jesus is not here. HE IS RISEN! JESUS IS RISEN! JESUS IS RISEN
We have been called from darkness to light.
Let us live in the light of our risen saviour Jesus
I know it is not as easy – sometimes the darkness is so dark that we can’t imagine stepping into the life
But if God could raise Jesus from the dead, if the light overcome the darkness – then imagine what God could do in your story.
The risen Jesus said to us today, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
May that be our experience this Easter.