By Pastor Glenn Pease
Louis Evans told of the soldier who was wounded on the battlefield at night.
He could not move or speak, but he could see the lanterns of the medics as they made their way from body to body.
Finally a lantern was shining down on him, and after they examined his wounds one of them said, "I believe that if he makes it to sunrise, he will live."
This gave the soldier a goal to reach, and a hope to cling to, so he lay there looking up into the stars longing for the dawn.
"If I make it to sunrise I will live," he kept saying to himself, and so he filled his mind with thoughts of his wife and children, and all the reasons he had to live.
Then came the morning and a feeling of victory, for he knew he would see his family again.
Hope is a powerful tool in helping people get through the night of their trials to the dawn of a new day, and a new life.
Most of you have probably had some experience of waiting for the dawn.
The one that stands out in my mind was in my first year of college.
I friend of mine hit me in the front teeth on the basketball court.
I developed an abscess that began to hurt terribly in the night.
I lived in the dorm, and I can remember it being the longest night of my life.
I roamed the hall and pleaded for the sun to rise.
I was in such pain that I had no other goal in life but to see the sunrise and be able to get some help.
Nothing is so comforting as the coming of the dawn when you are suffering in the night.
Thank God for the morning that enables you to endure the night.
Easter is that morning of history than gives man the courage and the hope to endure any night, even the night of death when the light of life is snuffed out and darkness seems to have won the war.
God has always been a morning person, and it fits all we know of God that he would raise his Son up from the grave on a Sunday Morning.
It was the greatest single victorious event ever to happen on this planet, and it happened in the morning.
You don't hear of Easter sunset services, but Easter sunrise services, for it was in the early morning that the Son of God rose to never set again.
That first Easter morning was the beginning of a day of Son shine that would never end in the darkness of night, for Jesus turned on a light that all the powers of hell could never put out or even dim.
Easter never ends, for on that morning of all mornings Jesus conquered death and darkness and brought life and immortality to light.
There is just something about the morning that God loves.
He dwells in perpetual light and he is light, and in Him is no darkness at all, yet He loves the dawning of the new day, and He made Easter morning the time of his total victory over the kingdom of darkness.
Easter was just the fulfillment of what we see all through the Bible.
God never slumbers or sleeps, but is ever alert to give songs in the night to his needy children.
But from the very start of creation God has been most active in the morning.
He does his best work in the morning.
That is when he created the world.
I don't know if you have ever noticed before, but God's workday in creation always began in the morning.
After each day he said there was evening and morning.
For 6 days God began each morning with a whole new project.
We know it was morning because God told Job it was.
He asked Job in Job 38, "Where were you when I laid the earth's foundation?"
And after a few more such questions he added, "While the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy.
God started all his masterpieces in the morning.
On the 7th morning God rested and did no work, and the 7th day became the Sabbath day of rest.
It was still the sacred day of worship and rest when Jesus lay in the tomb.
But Matthew now begins the last chapter of his Gospel with God going back to work on Sunday morning.
The Sabbath was over and it was a dawning of a new week, and God decides it is time for a new morning creation that will begin a whole new history on this planet.
God could have raised his Son on the Sabbath, but he was starting fresh with a whole new plan of salvation.
He was not going to dignify the Sabbath by the resurrection, and lock in the Sabbath forever.
He came to destroy the legalism of the Sabbath and make a new day of worship.
The Pharisees had no law against rising from the dead on the Sabbath, but it did involve a lot of forbidden work.
The stone being rolled away, and the Messiah getting out of his grave clothes, and traveling more than a Sabbath's day journey.
The whole thing would have been condemned had it been on the Sabbath.
So God chose to wait until Sunday morning to start his new creation.
It meant a mighty dull weekend in the tomb, but what a way to start a new week.
God skipped a chance to make the Sabbath the most sacred day forever.
Instead, he exalted the lowly Sunday to that status.
Sunday was just a commonplace secular day.
It was not sacred time, but secular time.
God took this day of common labor and made it the day that would be exalted above all others, even the Sabbath.
Easter Sunday morning changed everything for God's people.
It changed who they worshiped, and when they worshiped, and how they worshiped.
Easter morning didn't just change our eternal destiny, it changed the whole design of our earthly life in relation to God.
The one thing it didn't change, but only confirmed, is that God loves the morning.
One of the reasons is, no doubt, because every morning is symbolic of Easter morning.
Every night we sleep and are like the dead, but in the morning we rise to walk in newness of life.
It is a fresh new day filled with the potential of tasting all the fruits of the Spirit-love, joy, peace, and all the rest.
Jan Struther wrote,
Lord of all hopefulness, Lord of all joy,
Whose trust, ever childlike, no cares could destroy,
Be there at our waking, and give us, we pray,
Your bliss in our hearts, Lord, at the break of the day.
I could spend an hour just quoting the Scripture on the importance of the morning and beginning your day with God, and hours more quoting all the poetry men and women have written on it.
Let me share just a few:
Ps. 5:3, "Morning by morning, O Lord you hear my voice: Morning by morning I lay my request before you and wait in expectation."
Ps. 30:5, "Weeping may remain for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning."
Easter morning is the greatest example of this.
The darkness night ever endured by God and man was on Good Friday.
Jesus entered the darkness of hell, and the world was plunged into darkness, and all of the disciples were in a state of gloom as they wept over his fate and their own.
Some of you may have heard Tony Compolo on TV.
He was describing how a black preacher went on for an hour and a half describing the darkness of Good Friday, but then he would say, "But that was Friday-Sunday morning is coming and with it the rejoicing of the resurrection."
It was after a dark and sorrowful world that the light of Easter began to shine.
Easter morning guaranteed that all evil and sorrow is only temporary, and that good and joy are eternal.
There is a great gettin-up morning coming when the night of darkness ends forever, and the only kind of songs we will ever sing again are songs of victory.
Easter morning is like that which the Psalmist waited for in Ps. 130:6.
"My soul waits for the Lord more than watchman wait for the morning, more than watchman wait for the morning."
He repeats that, for that is the hope of the watchman-the morning, and that is the hope of all Christians.
If we wake on earth we wake everyday in a world where Lam.
3:23 says of God, "...His compassions never fail.
They are new every morning."
If we wake from the sleep of death in heaven, we enter an eternal morning.
We wake in the presence of him who is the bright and morning star, and he promises he will give to overcomers in Rev. 2:28, the morning star.
In eternity it is always morning, for we will be fresh and energetic and full of life with no weariness as time goes by.
It will be a fresh start that never ends.
It will be Easter morning forever.
When Donald Cargill died a martyr he stood on the scaffold in Edinburgh, England and said to the crowd in a loud voice, "Now for the morning and the King's face.
No more night and no more darkness."
Easter morning provides us with the hope we need to face death with confidence, but it is not just pie in the sky on high by and by when we die that we need.
We need pie on the table in the now, and Easter gives us this as well.
Jesus came back from the dead not just to tell his disciples that they would go to heaven when they die.
He came back to encourage them in living, and to meet basic needs, and so He fed them breakfast on the beach.
He gave them a purpose, and it was to reach the whole world with the good news of Easter, and to teach the world all he commanded.
Easter is not just about victory over death, it is about victory over life.
It is about conquering all obstacles that get in the way of achieving the purpose of Christ.
The stone was rolled away, not for Jesus to come out of the tomb, but for others to see its emptiness.
But there are no end to the stones that need to be rolled away to fulfill God's purpose for our lives.