A True EPIC
By Rev. Jeff Dixon, Senior Equipping Minister at Covenant Community Church
Apr 1, 2001, 20:56
I think the Easter story is an epic that echoes through the ages changing lives along the way. An EPIC (defined means) A long narrative in a dignified style about the deeds of a hero or heroes . . . heroic, grand .in scale or scope. Jesus is the hero, and the story is a true epic.
It is early dawn on Sunday morning, and it is dark! In fact those are Johnís words in John 20:1 ďIt was still dark . . .Ē It is a dark Sunday morning. It had been dark since Friday in some ways.
Dark with Peterís denial
Dark with Judasí betrayal
Dark with Pilateís cowardice
Dark with Christís anguish
Dark with Satanís glee
The only ember of light is the small band of women who are standing at a distance from the cross watching (Matt 27:55 Many women were there, watching from a distance. They had followed Jesus from Galilee to care for his needs.) Among them are two Marys. One the mother of James and Joseph and the other is Mary Magdalene. They are there to call his name. They are there to be the final voices he hears before his death. They are there to help prepare his body for burial. They are there to wipe the blood from his beard, clean the crimson from his legs, close his eyes, and touch his face. They are there. The last to leave Calvary and the first to arrive at the grave. Early on Sunday morning they leave their pallets and walk out onto that tree shadowed path. Theirs is a somber task. The morning promises only one encounter, an encounter with a corpse.
REMEMBER that Mary and Mary donít know that this is the first Easter.
They are not going with the hope of the tomb being vacant. They arenít discussing what they will say when they see Jesus. They have no idea that the tomb is vacant. There was a time that they would have dared to dream such dreams. Not now. The time for the incredible had passed. Mary and Mary had come to place warm oils on a cold body and say good-bye to the one man who had given them reason to hope.
Now those hopes were gone . . .but I think we see some epic things that these women displayed as well. The first thing I see them display is an EPIC PASSION. Remember it isnít hope leading the women up the hillside toward the tomb. It is PASSION. It was devotion. They expect nothing in return.
They are not climbing the mountain to receive; they are climbing the mountain to give. They are driven by love; they had discovered love in Jesus. They are now putting that same love into action . . .it is duty driven by love. That is the call of discipleship. Mary and Mary knew a task had to be done. Jesusí body needed to be prepared for burial. There had not been enough time on Friday, so it needed to be done today. It is important to notice that there had been no other volunteers for the task.
Up the hill they go. We know something they didnít . . .we know the Father was watching. Mary and Mary think they are alone, they arenít. They think their journey is unnoticed, they are wrong . . .God knows. He is watching them head toward the tomb. He is measuring their steps. I think that He is smiling at their hearts and thrilled at their devotion. . After all He has a surprise waiting for them. .
Matthew 28:2-4 ďAt that time there was a strong earthquake. An angel of the Lord came down from Heaven, went to the tomb, and rolled the stone away from the entrance. Then he sat on the stone. He was shining, bright as lightning, and his clothes were as snow. The soldiers guarding the tomb shook with fear because of the angel, and they became like dead men.Ē
The angel rolled away the stone to show the women that Jesus was not there. Listen to what the angel said to Mary and Mary: (v.6) Come and see the place where his body was.Ē
The stone was rolled back and they look inside, and he is not there!
One looks at the other and Mary is grinning that same grin she had when the bread and fish kept coming out of the basket. In an instant: The old passion flares and the dream sparks back to life.
(v.7) Go quickly and tell his followers that Jesus has risen from the dead. He is going into Galilee ahead of you, and you will see him there.Ē
They donít need to be told twice. They turn and start running back to Jerusalem.
The darkness is gone
The Sun is up
The SON is OUT
But the SON isnít finished yet. .
There is one more surprise for them on this morning. There is a calling that met their passion. Notice the EPIC CALLING. ďSuddenly Jesus met them and said, Greetings.
The women came up to him, took hold of his feet and worshipped him. Then Jesus said to them, donít be afraid, go and tell my followers to go on to Galilee, and they will see me there ď (v.9-10)
The God of surprises strikes again. I think Jesus was so excited at what they were doing; it was as if he said, ďI canít wait any longer. They came so far to see me, I think Iíll drop in on them.Ē He does that you know. . The lesson is simple . . .. Stated in 3 words . . .Donít give up! That is the message of Easter. He did not give up on us, and we can live our lives with hope now!
When Thomas Carlyle had completed writing the first volume of his work The French Revolution, he gave the finished manuscript to his friend John Stuart Mill and asked him to read it. It took Mr. Mill several days to read it. As he read, he realized that this book was truly a great literary achievement. Late one night as he had finished reading the last page of the manuscript, he laid it aside his chair in the den of his home. The next morning the maid came in, seeing the papers laying on the floor thought they were trash, threw them into the fire and they were burned!
On March 6, 1835óhe never forgot the dateóMill called on Carlyle in deep agony and told him the work had been destroyed. Carlyle replied, ďItís alright, Iím sure I can start over in the morning and do it all again.Ē
Finally after great apologies, John Mill left and started to head back home. Carlyle watched his friend and said, ďI feel so sorry for Mill. I did not want him to see how crushed I really am . . . .(sigh) well it is gone, so I guess I should get writing at it again.Ē
And he did . . .he could have given up, he could have quit, he could have decided that life was so unfair that there was nothing else to do, but he did not quit!
Is the trail dark? Donít sit
Is the road long? Donít stop
Is the night black? Donít quit
God is watching. .
And it is part of an Epic Adventure.
© Copyright 2003 by CCC Ministries