This morning I had the privilege of getting up early and participating in our local ministerial’s sunrise service. I was asked to give a short devotion, and thought I’d make it available here.
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It’s Easter Sunday, and today we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord. Some of us have gathered now, at the rising of the sun, taking note of the time of day when the resurrection was discovered.
The book of John tells us that Mary Magdalene went to the tomb, “early in the morning . . . while it was still dark” (verse 1).
When the sun set on the day of Jesus’ death, it was the second time the sky had darkened that day. As He approached His final breath, Jesus would have seen the bright afternoon sky be suddenly overtaken with cloud and shadow. It’s as if God, in His own sorrow at the death of His one and only Son, plunged the earth into a premature sunset, forcing its inhabitants to take note of a tragedy of immense proportion.
If you take a look at the heavens in Scripture – the sun, moon and stars – you’ll quickly see that they find a special place in the life of Christ.
- At His birth, a special star was released from the shadow of night. It beamed on the little town of Bethlehem without much notice. But those who knew to look for it, astronomers from the east, were led by the star to the home of the King of Jews.
- As Jesus was about to enter His public ministry He travelled to the Jordan River. There He received a baptism that He did not need for Himself, but that His people desperately needed: Repentance. Coming out of the water, the sky opened above Jesus. From the heavens came the voice of His Father, expresses pleasure in His Son.
- Scripture tells of the Day of the Lord, which New Testament writers have taken to mean the day of Christ`s final return. There will be many signs in the heavens leading up to that day. It will be a day of darkness, when stars are flung from the sky, the light of the sun and moon will turn to blood, and eventually darken completely.
And now here we are, waiting for a sunrise to commemorate the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
Many things have happened at sunrise in Scripture.
- Jacob wrestled the Lord until sunrise. He received a new name, “Israel,” and a limp (see Gen 32:24-31).
- 2 Samuel records “the last words of David”. He described the perfect ruler over men as being “like the light of the morning when the sun rises, a morning without clouds.” He also says that though his own rule did not fit this description, that the Lord had made an everlasting covenant with him, implying that the Lord would see that this Ruler would come from the line of David (see 2 Sam 23:1-5).
- Malachi describes the rising of the Sun of Righteousness as two varying experiences. For the wicked, it would consume them, “burning like an oven”. For the righteous, those who fear the name of the Lord, He would bring healing, strength and justice (See Malachi 4:1-3).
But today, as we look to the sun rising in the East, there is a portion of Psalm 19 that helps to capture the excitement of today – Christ’s resurrection – and the anticipation of a day coming – Christ’s return.
The heavens tell the glory of God,
and the skies announce what his hands have made.
Day after day they tell the story;
night after night they tell it again.
They have no speech or words;
they have no voice to be heard.
But their message goes out to through all the world;
their words go everywhere on earth.
The sky is like a home for the sun.
The sun comes out like a bridegroom from his bedroom.
It rejoices like an athlete eager to run a race.
(Psalm 19:1-5, NCV)
You’ve probably heard it said that we are the Bride of Christ. So today as the sun stretches out, Jesus comes running out as our Bridegroom, ready to snatch us up and make us His own. And we eagerly head off into the race of our lives, looking to the hope that we have in Him.