Easter Sunrise

Readings: Isaiah 25:6-9 | 1 Corinthians 15:1-11 | John 20:1-18

Text: Zechariah 6:1-8

Joy Comes with the Morning

     Some of us are not “morning people.” I am, but others look at me like I’m weird. If we had an Easter Sunrise service at 6am, I’m afraid I might be the only one here! Now, we might have trouble getting ourselves out of bed early, but apparently God is a morning person.

According to God, the morning is not a time for groaning or scowling, but the morning is a time for rejoicing. Psalm 30:5 is an inspired Word of the Lord and it says, “Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.” I want to reflect on that last bit. Joy comes with the morning.

Examples of Morning Joy

     Why would anyone rejoice early in the morning?

     Well, you might rejoice in the morning, because God has saved you from your enemies. Consider the Israelites. They were slaves in Egypt, but Yahweh sent Moses to Pharaoh with a message: “Let my people go!” When Pharaoh refused, Yahweh sent plague after plague to punish the Egyptians. Finally, Pharaoh released the Israelites. When the Israelites were gone, Pharaoh changed his mind. His chariots pursued Israel to the edge of the sea.

     What did God do? He split the sea in two, so that Israel could pass through to the other side. Then, when the Egyptians pursued them through the sea, God closed the sea and drowned the Egyptians. According to Exodus 14:27, God drowned the Egyptians when the morning sun appeared. Joy comes with the morning!

     Then, the Israelites came to Mt. Sinai. According to Exodus 19:16-17, Yahweh appeared to the people on the morning of the third day. He made a covenant with these people. He became their God. Joy comes with the morning.

     Many years later, the Israelite army rose on the seventh day (Josh. 6:15). They got up early in the morning. Why would they get out of bed so early? They got up to march around Jericho and they witnessed God knock down the mighty walls. Joy comes with the morning.

     Psalm 46:5 says, “God shall help Zion, just at the break of dawn.” Lamentations 3:22-23 delivers these comforting words: “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Yes, it is clear that God likes showing grace to his people in the morning. And his grace fills us with joy.


     In the final vision of Zechariah, the prophet sees two mountains that are the color of bronze. Many scholars think that the mountains have a bronze appearance because it is the early dawn. The golden sun is peeking over the hills and shining upon them.

Again I lifted my eyes and saw, and behold, four chariots came out from between two mountains. And the mountains were mountains of bronze. The first chariot had red horses, the second black horses, the third white horses, and the fourth chariot dappled horses—all of them strong. Then I answered and said to the angel who talked with me, “What are these, my lord?” And the angel answered and said to me, “These are going out to the four winds of heaven, after presenting themselves before the Lord of all the earth. The chariot with the black horses goes toward the north country, the white ones go after them, and the dappled ones go toward the south country.” When the strong horses came out, they were impatient to go and patrol the earth. And he said, “Go, patrol the earth.” So they patrolled the earth. Then he cried to me, “Behold, those who go toward the north country have set my Spirit at rest in the north country.”  (Zech. 6:1-8)

     We know that Zechariah chapters 1-6 contain a series of visions. These visions were given to the prophet in a single night. So, it would make sense that the final vision happens early in the morning.

     What happens in this vision? At dawn the chariots of God go into the north and south to put down the enemies of God, so that the Spirit of God can rest. In the first vision, the enemies of God were resting (Zech. 1:11). In this vision, the Spirit rests. Also, at dawn the high priest is given a crown as a sign that the Branch will come (but you’ll have to wait till the divine service to hear about that!). This Branch is a Man, who is both Priest and King.

     Early in the morning, Zechariah sees the victory of God. And he is told about the One who will achieve this victory—Jesus Christ, the final High Priest and eternal King. Of course, God delivers this Gospel in the morning. Joy always comes with the morning!

The Resurrection of Jesus

     We know that very early in the morning some women visited a tomb. They were shocked to see that the tomb had been open. They were horrified when they saw that the body was gone. They came to anoint the body of Jesus, who was crucified, but who had taken him away?

     Angels tried to deliver the good news to these women. Jesus was once dead and buried here, but no longer. He is risen! Jesus lives! Joy comes with the morning!

     Then, Jesus himself appears to the women. He was once a corpse, but now he stands before them. Nails were driven into his hands. Indeed, they still bear the scars, but his hands are no longer pale, cold, and lifeless. They are flushed with color, warm to the touch, and they wipe away the tears of the women. Joy comes with the morning!

     The world tried to kill Jesus, but Jesus broke death’s power. He took away the world’s greatest weapon. He conquered the world that killed him, disarming the world. The world might threaten you with death, but these are empty threats. The martyrs will be resurrected and granted the crown of life. Joy comes with the morning!

     The Father raised Jesus from the dead. In doing so, the Father appointed Jesus as our High Priest and our King. Now, we have a Man who intercedes for us always. Now, the One who rules the cosmos shares our flesh and blood and he cares for his brothers. My friends, truly joy comes with the morning!


     Many people don’t wake up easily. Some mornings, even I don’t want to leave my warm bed when it is dark and cold. Give me some time and coffee before I’m ready to face the day.

On the other hand, I am a Christian. As a Christian, I am definitely a morning person, because that is when God brings joy. And I cannot wait for the dawning of the eternal day, when I will see my risen Lord and experience the fullness of salvation. Joy will come with the morning and will never end! In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

~ Original sermon by Rev. Alexander Lange ~

Easter Sunrise (John 20:1-18)

Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Lebanon, OR
Easter Sunrise + April 1, 2018
Text: John 20:1-18
Sermon from Rev. David Juhl, adapted

With glad hearts raised to God, we say Alleluia! Christ is risen! He is risen, indeed! Alleluia!
It takes a special breed to be a morning person. Not everyone can get up before the crack of dawn and feel like they have six hours of activity under their belt. Most of us need a cup, or several cups, of coffee, or some other caffeinated beverage to jump start the day.
Saint Peter was a mo(u)rning person. Please spell it with a “u”. He’s up early and running to the tomb because Mary Magdalene has a strange report. The stone is rolled away from Jesus’ tomb. John is running with Peter and gets there first. But Peter goes into the tomb first. It’s a good thing he did.
Peter promised he would stand by our Lord’s side to the end. He didn’t. We all know he denied knowing the Lord three times, just as Jesus told him he would. The last time we heard about Peter, he was running away and weeping bitterly. He did the impossible. He lied about Jesus when he should have told the truth. Instead of preparing to pay the consequences for his allegiance to the teachings and person of Jesus of Nazareth, Peter wimps out, takes what he sees is the easy way out, and sins greatly.
We also take the easy way out every day. Opportunities abound to proclaim your allegiance to Jesus. But we won’t seize the day and speak up. There are times it’s ok to be a Christian, like around other Christians.  But then there are those awkward pauses when your faith comes up in conversation with a jaded atheist.  There are those silences after someone makes a statement about the value of life, or what they think God is like.  We act embarrassed about the whole situation and hope they doesn’t notice that we are a Christian.
Churches this day are packed of full and part-time Christians. Easter is one of those “can’t miss” holidays where everyone puts on their finest, gets up before dawn, and runs to church to hear the familiar account of an empty tomb, a weeping woman, and a case of mistaken identity. The sorrow of Friday turns to joy today.
But when you walk out those doors, it will be business as usual. You won’t remember why Jesus rises from dead, let alone dies for your sins. Easter is just another Sunday among other Sundays of the year. Why this forgetfulness?  There’s just too much sorrow and sadness in your life for the Resurrection to matter. Knowing that your Redeemer lives gives comfort, but it doesn’t pay the mortgage. Hearts waking with gladness to see what the Savior has done won’t fix a broken marriage. Good Christian friends rejoicing and singing will go on fighting and not speaking to each other once they leave this building.
All of us are mo(u)rning persons, or should be. Jesus Christ gives up His life so you may not die. Jesus rests in the tomb on the Passover Sabbath so you may rest in His Word and Sacrament every Lord’s Day. Beloved, count the cost of the Resurrection and what might have been, had our Savior not been born according to the flesh. Today would be just another Sunday. Tomorrow would leave us all, according to Tennessee Ernie Ford, “another day older/ and deeper in debt”.
Today Jesus removes the “u”. Today Jesus makes us morning persons. Spell it now without the “u”. “Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.” (Ps. 30:5)  Sorrow is gone with the night. Morning has broken. So has the seal on our Lord’s tomb. So has the power of sin, death, and hell. Satan cannot stand the sight of the sun rising over Jerusalem, much less every place that Christians gather this Resurrection morn. He knows it’s another day closer to the ultimate sentence of residence in the lake of fire.
Today Jesus Christ ensures you, who trust in Him as your Redeemer, will miss the lake of fire. Today death is a thing of the past. Jesus is alive. So are you. Even if you can’t see it, believe the Word of the Lord:
3Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. 5For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. 7For one who has died has been set free from sin. 8Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 6:3–11)
You are baptized into Christ. You are washed clean from the stain of sin.  The Word of God does not lie.  Appearances may deceive, Satan tempts us, people disappoint us.  But the Word of the Lord endures forever.
What can death do to you now that our Lord has conquered it? Death is nothing. Life is everything. Satan is nothing. Jesus is everything. Sin is nothing. Grace is everything. 9Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us. This is the Lord; we have waited for him; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.” (Isaiah 25:9)
Rejoice in your God. Today Jesus makes you are a morning person. Because He lives, you also shall live and reign with Him to all eternity.
Allelulia! Christ is risen! (He is risen indeed! Alleluia) Amen.