Sermon Audio & Transcript

Easter Sunrise Service


Dear friends in Christ made God’s grace mercy and peace be yours through God our father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

There are certain things that you expect in life. Especially living here in Southern California you expect that the freeways are going to be jammed at rush hour. You expected when you came to church this morning that you were going to be greeted with the pleasing aroma of Easter Lilies. In fact, many of us are anticipating that very soon we will be greeted with the beautiful smell of Easter bacon, and sausage, and ham. Can’t quite smell it yet but we’re looking forward to it aren’t we? Other things that you expect you might expect that you’re going to hear a sermon when you come to church on Easter day, and you will not be disappointed because here it is. But that very first Easter there were a lot of things that were not expected, for instance every once in a while you get out on the 91 freeway at a busy time and you might be able to sail right through without waiting. You might sometimes receive something unexpected like if you go to McDonald’s and you find a salad. Today as we look at what the women were expecting. We find that they found exactly the opposite. Let’s remember what the women experience when they first came to that tomb of Jesus. When they first arrived. What had they witnessed two days before? On the evening of Good Friday they had seen Jesus body suspended on the cross. There was no hope that there was any life in that body. When the body was taken down and was placed into a tomb and as they placed it into the tomb they watched carefully where where he was laid and the stone was rolled across the entrance. The women had to observe the Sabbath day, and so one full day Jesus body remained in that tomb, laid out on that cold rock slab. As soon as they could which was probably after sunset, on the day that we call holy Saturday the technical ending of the Sabbath, they went out purchase the spices that they would used to anoint Jesus body.

See these were dear friends of Jesus. These women had perhaps been following Jesus throughout his ministry. One of them probably Jesus mother another Mary Magdalene, we heard her story. Another the mother of James and John, and there were a few others that provided for the needs of the disciples as they traveled. Human dignity and human friendship provided that these women should give Jesus the final respect that he deserved. And then what? And then they would get on with their lives the next thing that they would do was go on putting one step in front of the other keeping on breathing until the pain would go away. Their life they knew would be much drastically different. So they arrive near the tomb and there wondering to themselves who is going to roll the stone away? As they come around the bend they saw that the stone had already been rolled away. Who could possibly have done this? They knew that a guard had been posted outside the entrance to be sure that Jesus disciples wouldn’t come and steal his body and then make that’s outlandish claim that he had been risen from the dead. And they knew that Roman legionnaires Roman soldiers are like pit bulls. They don’t give up. They will stand at their guard even if it means certain death, but the women arrived at the tomb and what they were not expecting was an Easter sermon that morning. The grave were Jesus have been laid became the very first Easter chapel. The very first Easter sunrise service and that slab where Jesus had been laid became the very first Easter sunrise service pulpit as an angel spoke to the women these words, “why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here. He is risen. Remember how he told you while he was still with you in Galilee? The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified, and on the third day be raised again.” What the women had thought that they would see was a place of death. Now if you think about it, we do kind of the same thing that the women were doing to this garden tomb. We try to beautify death. In fact, if you go to Rose Hills, or if you go to Riverside National Cemetery, and when you look out over the grounds you see how beautiful he kept it is. The grasses mown perfectly every day. The view is spectacular and when we visit a grave usually were thinking about those things. We’re not thinking about what’s underground. When we go to a funeral we’re usually saying to each other things like, oh she looks so lifelike. The undertaker did such a good job with her hair. We try to focus on those things and not the stark reality of death. So the women were expecting to find the dead Jesus but what they expected to find was the opposite of what they needed to find.

What they needed is the same is what we need. Imagine if they had been met with exactly their expectation as they came to the grave. Just imagine for a second that Jesus was still there. The women had their spices and they would’ve prepared his body. They would’ve rolled the stone back in front of the entrance, and gone on with their lives. If Jesus had still been in his grave everything that he told them would have been a lie. If Jesus was still in his grave–let’s just imagine that the women really were delusional, that they didn’t know what they were talking about, let’s imagine that the Angels were just a fantasy, a figment of someone’s imagination, and let’s imagine that Saint Luke was just making this stuff up–and what does that mean for us. St. Paul says that if Christ is not been raised then we are still in our sins. If Christ has not been raised then when Jesus said, “it is finished,” he meant nothing more than I’m about to die. If Christ had not been raised from the dead, then we would have no reason to expect that God the father accepted his sacrifice for sin. How would we know that it worked? But St. Paul says Christ has indeed been raised from the dead. In fact, the resurrection is one of history’s more certain facts. It was witnessed by more than 500 people close to Jesus. It was witnessed by four different contemporaries who wrote about it. It was believed by disciples who were willing to die for the message that they proclaimed. They did not deny they did not retract their stories. Jesus has been raised from the dead indeed a very surprising fact but what it means for us is that our sins have been taken care of. When we die, because of what Jesus did. We know that we will go to heaven and we know that our bodies even though they remain on the earth for a while are merely a sleep. Waiting for the reuniting with the soul, and we know that we will live with our Lord Jesus Christ forevermore. That’s what we need from Easter.

Sometimes a funeral director at the death of a Christian whom I’m officiating for will say to the family please come up and go by the coffin one last time for your final goodbyes. It’s not a final goodbye when we bury a fellow believer, we know that it’s only a temporary thing it’s like when your loved one gets on an airplane to go on a trip and you expect you’ll see them again because they will be coming back. So with the women went to the tomb of Jesus that morning, let us be once again surprised by Easter. Let us be surprised by that empty tomb and let us be joyed, let us be comforted by that unexpectedly living Savior.

The one who lives and reigns for you and me. And let’s remember his words he said it had to happen, it had to happen for you and me. There was no other way but Jesus is the way.



Bible Readings

Easter Sunrise Service

SERMON TEXT:  Luke 24:1-8

On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ” Then they remembered his words.

Bible Readings

FIRST LESSON:  Isaiah 12:1-6

In that day you will say: “I will praise you, Lord. Although you were angry with me, your anger has turned away and you have comforted me. Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The Lord, the Lord himself, is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation.” With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. In that day you will say: “Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name; make known among the nations what he has done, and proclaim that his name is exalted. Sing to the Lord, for he has done glorious things; let this be known to all the world. Shout aloud and sing for joy, people of Zion, for great is the Holy One of Israel among you.”

SECOND LESSON:  1 Corinthians 15:51-57

Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
“Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.


Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia. This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.

GOSPEL: John 20:1-18

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. 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!” So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in.  Then Simon Peter came along behind him and went straight into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head. The cloth was still lying in its place, separate from the linen. Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed.  (They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.) Then the disciples went back to where they were staying.
Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot. They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”
“They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.
He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”
Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”
Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”).
Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.