The Great Sunrise

Resurrection Sunday – 4/21/19, the Year of Our Lord

Pastor Carolyn Sissom


The little while and you will not see Me, is past.


Ps. 30: 5:  Weeping may endure for a night, but my joy comes in the morning.


Isa. 21:11: Watchman! What of the night!  Watchman what of the night!  The Watchman said, the morning cometh! 


John 20:1 “Early in the morning on the first day of the week, they came into the sepulcher at the rising of the sun…”


Isa. 30:26: The light of the sun shall be sevenfold, as the light of seven days, in the day that the Lord binds up the breach of His people, and heals the stroke of their wound.


Oh happy day for a benighted world!  The Brighter than the brightest earthly sun has come forth from His chamber of death, rejoicing more than ever as a giant to run his course.  He has turned the shadow of death into the morning.  The darkness is past and the true Light now shines. (1 Jo. 2:8)


Mat. 28: 1-7: In the end of the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulcher.  Behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the LORD descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow: for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men.


The first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary have returned to the tomb after the others have left…sees the stone taken away from the entrance of the tomb.


Mat. 28:5-7: The angel spoke to the women; Fear not; for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified.  He is not here: for he is risen, and the angel said, Come, see the place where the LORD lay.  And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead.  Behold, He goes before you into Galilee; there you shall see him; lo, I have told you.


The first-day has since been called “the Lord’s day.”  Not only because He rose that day, but because the New Creation based on His redemption work also began on Sunday.  Seven Sunday’s later (Pentecost) Jesus returned in the Spirit to begin the work of building His church.  Our Sunday worship is an extension of that first Pentecostal Sunday.  This is not merely a day of physical rest (per the Jewish Sabbath, Saturday), but a day of Spiritual work for Christ—the true rest.  The Christian’s Sabbath provides spiritual rest for our souls.  It is for those belonging to the New Creation, those who are alive in the Spirit.


John in his gospel gives us more detail of Mary’s encounter with the Angels.


John 20: 11- 12:  “Now Mary remained outside the tomb weeping.  In the process of pouring out her grief, she bent down and looked into the tomb.  There she beheld two angels in white, sitting one at the head, the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain.”


 The ministry of angels is as natural in the Kingdom of God as the ministry of the saints.  “These angels were messengers from heaven, sent with a mission and a message: to honor the Son and to declare “He is Alive”.   Now that the Son of God was again to be brought into the world, the angels have a charge to attend him in the tomb, as angels did at his birth.  They are sent to comfort the saints, and by giving them notice that the Lord was risen, to prepare them for the sight of Him.  Their number: two, not a multitude of the heavenly host, to sing praise, only two to bear witness.  They were in white, denoting their purity and holiness.  These angels sat at Christ’s grave.


  These two angels are still in the tomb declaring the same message, “He is not here!  He is alive!  How do I know this?  When I was in Israel, I walked into the tomb.  An angel tapped me on the shoulder and said to me.  He is not here!  He is alive!


  “These angels went into the grave to teach us to not be afraid of it.   There sitting to face one another, one at his bed’s head, the other at the bed’s feet, may also remind us of two cherubim, not with flaming swords to keep us from the Garden, but welcome messengers to welcome us to the way of life.”  (M.H.)


John 20: 13-18: The angels spoke to Mary saying, Woman why are you weeping?   Because they have taken away my Lord and I do not know where they have laid Him, she answered.  As soon as she said this, she turned away, and then she saw Jesus standing there without realizing it was He.  Then Jesus spoke to her, Woman, why are you weeping?  Whom are you seeking?  Supposing Him to be the gardener, she said, Sir if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have laid Him, and I will take Him away.  Jesus said to her, Mary!  She turned to move toward Him and as she did, she exclaimed in Hebrew, Rabboni (My fondest Master/Teacher/My great One.)


Never did a royal trumpet blast declare such a tale of victory as that of the sound of the Master’s voice.  It was the voice of the Beloved!  The same voice that first spoke peace to her troubled soul, and cast out the seven devils that had long ruled her wretched body.  He now calls His own sheep by name, and leads her out.  He is fulfilling His own sweet promise contained in the prophecy about the smitten shepherd and the scattered sheep.


When she turned to move toward Him,     Jesus said, don’t cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to my Father and your Father, my God and your God.    So Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news:  I have seen the Lord, and he had spoken these things to her.  What a privilege was hers! to be the first preacher of that glad truth.


“O hear the song of the empty tomb,

Telling, witnessing, resurrection.

It rings with the voice of angelic ones,

“He is not here, He is risen!” (Frances Metcalfe)


Mat. 28:8: The women departed quickly from the sepulcher with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word…


John 20: 3-7: “Peter and the other disciple set out at once for the tomb.  The two of them running together, for a time they ran side by side, but then the other disciple ran ahead of Peter to reach the tomb first.  Stooping down so that he could look inside, he saw the linen clothes lying there, but he didn’t go in.  close behind came Simon Peter who went directly into the tomb, where he beheld the linen wrappings and the face cloth which had been about his head not lying with the other wrappings, but folded in a place by itself.”


There is no way to remove a body from the Jewish method of winding a corpse without disturbing the folds.  The face-cloth lying intact and folded is overwhelming evidence.  Indeed it was Jewish custom to fold a napkin at the dinner table indicating the person would return.


John: 20: 8-10:  Then the disciple who reached the tomb first also went in, and when he saw the evidence, he believed, for at this point they had not yet understood the Scripture which said he must rise again from the dead.  Then the disciples went home.


Psa. 16:10 - For you will not leave my soul in hell; neither will you suffer your Holy One to see corruption.


Three different Greek verbs are used in this incident to show how the two disciples reacted to the evidence.


  1. John looked and he “saw” the linens by casual inspection.
  2. When Peter “saw” the linens, he beheld them critically and carefully but he didn’t understand.
  3. John entered the tomb “saw” and then he believed.


He believed the Lord had risen from the dead as he said He would.  John 2:19:  Destroy this temple and I will raise it again in three days.


Late that same Sunday evening, when the disciples had met together behind closed doors for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst of them.  Peace be with you, He said.  Then He showed them His hands and His side.  When the disciples saw the Lord, they were overjoyed. 


Three days earlier the disciples had forsaken Jesus, scattering each to his own business.  What then brings them to this room?  The town is alive with reports of His resurrection.  Different ones, including Peter have seen him (Luke 24:24) Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but Him they did not see.  “Those who walked with the Lord expected Him to do the unusual.  They had seen him forgive a woman who had five husbands, honor a pint-size thief disguised as a tax collector, and love a streetwalker whose reputation would have brought blushes to the faces of Bonnie and Clyde.  They’d seen him scare the devil out of some demoniacs and put the fear of God in some churchgoers.  Traditions had tumbled, lepers had leaped, sinners had sung, Pharisees had fumed, multitudes had been moved.  You just don’t pack up the bags and go home after three years like that.” (Max Lucado)


“Suddenly”—He is in their midst, miraculously, His first greeting calms their frightened spirits.  Peace be with you.  They relax as their fears subside.  A repentant heart is all he demands.  Come out of the shadows! Be done with your hiding!   A repentant heart is enough to summon the Son of God himself to walk through our walls of guilt and shame.    He who forgave his followers stands ready to forgive the rest of us.  All we have to do is come back.” (Max Lucado) 


 It was God’s plan for Jesus to appear in the same body after the resurrection.  It was the one sign promised an evil generation.  Matt. 12: 39-41: Jesus answered, a wicked and adulterous generation asks for a miraculous sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.  For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.  The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now one greater than Jonah is here.


John 20: 21-22:  Then Jesus repeated His salutation saying, Peace be with you: as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.  And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said, Receive the Holy Spirit.  He bears no grudge for their desertion.  He advised the disciples the commission He received from His Father did not end at the cross.  Their desertion of Him had not cost them their status as apostles.   The breath of God is a regular metaphor in the scriptures for the Holy Spirit.  The first effusion of the breath of God made man a living being.  Here the breath of the risen Christ make the disciples into new men.  There is a difference of opinion as to whether the Holy Spirit was not fully imparted at this moment.  Luke 24:33 suggests that others beside the ten disciples were present here. 


John20:23:  If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven, if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.  Some of the commentaries say this is not really what Jesus meant and they will rephrase it to say what they think he meant to say based on his life long ministry of forgiveness. I believe that view can be defined as redefinition of the Scriptures.   His words on the cross were, Father forgive them for they know not what they do.  He forgave those who persecuted Him.  He taught that we must forgive in order to be forgiven. 


Matthew Henry teaches it is an Apostolic authority.  “If they had not had an extraordinary spirit of discerning, they would not have been trusted with such an authority.  It must be understood as a general charter to the church and her ministers encouraging the faithful stewards of the mysteries of God to stand to the gospel they were sent to preach.  God will stand with us. Those whom the gospel acquits shall be acquitted, and those whom the gospel condemns shall be condemned.  This puts immense honor upon the ministry and should put immense courage into ministers. 


By sound doctrine.  They are commissioned to tell the world that salvation is to be had upon gospel terms, and no other.” (Matthew Henry)


David J. Ellis:  “These words properly understood, refer to the disciples as the first nucleus of the Spirit-filled society.  Its ministry in the gospel will be effectual.  Some will be forgiven; others will reject its message and be hardened.  When the church functions as the true Body of Christ, she can pronounce on sin with the same assurance as Jesus when He gave this command.”


“After all the temple was destroyed as Jesus prophesied it would be.  Judgment did fall on those who did not receive Him.  This is an apostolic authority given to the Apostles.  Jesus’ death on the Cross bore all of our sin, grief and sorrow, but it is conditional.  We have to receive Him as our Savior.  If we will not, His death and resurrection condemns us. “Christ had nothing but stinging words of rebuke for those who dwell in the tunnel of religion.  Hypocrites, he called them.  Godless actors.  Fence builders.  Inflexible judges, Unauthorized hedge trimmers, Hair splitters, Blind guides.  White-washed tombs, Snakes, Vipers, Bang! Bang! Bang! Jesus had no room for those who specialized in making religion a warlord, and faith a footrace.  No room at all. 


Joseph and Nicodemus were tired of it too.  They had seen it for themselves.  They had seen the list of rules and regulations.  They had watched the people tremble under unbearable burdens.  They had heard the hours of senseless wrangling over legalistic details.  They had worn the robes and sat at the places of honor and seen the word of God be made void.  They had seen religion become the crutch that cripples.” (Max Lucado)  


    Father forgive them for they know not what they do.


“The Bible is one story after another of God using man’s best and overcoming man’s worst.  The reassuring lesson is clear.  God used (and uses!) people to change the world, People! Not saints or super humans or geniuses, but people.  Crooks, creeps, lovers and liars—he uses them all.  And what they may lack in perfection, God makes up for in love.”(M.L)


What a glad Sunday that was for Christ’s friends and disciples and for the Church of Christ to the latest ages of time!  That divine “Sun,” who had so lately gone down in the darkness of the tomb, has risen never again to set!


Love’s redeeming work is done!

Fought the fight---the battle won

Lo! the Son’s eclipse is o’er.

Lo! He sets in blood no more!”


John 20:24- 25:  Thomas the Twin, who was one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came.  When the other disciples told him, We have seen the Lord, Thomas replied, Unless I see the nail marks  in His hands and can put my fingers into the very nail holes themselves, and shove my hand into His side, you’ll never get me to believe it.


Thomas had given up all hope.  Jesus knew that Thomas was upright, honest, and brave.  Thomas was the one who bravely said, Let us also go, that we may die with Him!


“Honest, intellectual, truth-loving skeptic that he is, Thomas stands his ground.  He states the terms under which he will believe Jesus has risen.  Since the Lord has already said, none is lost except the son of perdition.  We can expect him to rescue Thomas from his despair and doubting condition. “He knew He had a winner in Thomas.  Legend has him hopping a freighter to India where they had to kill him to get him to quit talking about his home prepared in the world to come and his friend who came back from the dead.”(M.L.)


I visited Thomas’ tomb in India.  I can declare that the presence of the Lord fills the room where a portion of his bones still remains.  The apostolic presence is all consuming.


You can’t go to the cross with just your head and not your heart.  It doesn’t work that way.  Calvary is not a mental trip.  It’s not an intellectual exercise.  It’s not a divine calculation or a cold theological principle.  It’s a heart-splitting hour of emotion.  Don’t walk away from it dry-eyed and unstirred.  Don’t just straighten your tie and clear your throat.  Don’t allow yourself to descend Calvary cool and collected.


Please…pause Look again.

Those are nails in those hands.

That’s God on that cross.

It’s us who put him there! (Max Lucado)


20:28-29: Thomas answered and said to Him, My Lord and My God.  Jesus said to him, Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed; blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.


Thomas’ reply is a confession of his faith.


Peter knew it.  John knew it.  Mary knew it. Thomas knew it.  They also somehow knew that history was being remade.  They would soon be launched into history to never be the same again.


20: 30-31:  Any other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you might have life through His name.


2 Sa. 23: 3-5: The God of Israel said, the Rock of Israel spoke to me…He shall be as the light of the morning when the sun rises, even a morning without clouds; as the tender grass springs out of the earth by clear shining after rain…He has made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things, and sure; for this is all my salvation, and all my desire…


Carolyn Sissom, Pastor

Eastgate Ministries, Inc.


I entered into the labors of C. S. Lovett;  Matthew Henry; Max Lucado; David J. Ellis; John R. MacDuff; Resurrection Sunday, The Third Day, taught by: Carolyn Sissom 3/23/2008, the Year of Our Lord; John – Chapter 20, 9/12/17, Carolyn Sissom


“Fear not, little flock, from the cross to the throne,

From death into life He went for His own;

All power in earth, all power above,

Is given to Him for the flock of His love.

Only believe, only believe,

All things are possible, only believe;

Only believe, only believe;

All things are possible, only believe.

Fear not, little flock, He goes ahead,

Your Shepherd selected the path you must tread.

The waters of Marah, He’ll sweeten for thee,

He drank all the bitter in Gethsemane

Fear not, little flock, whatever your lot,

He enters all rooms, ‘the doors being shut’

He never forsakes.  He never is gone.

So count on his presence in darkness and dawn.”

(J. G. Daily
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