ORIGINALLY WRITTEN IN APRIL OF 2014
BY TIM LABRECHE
Before the sun crested the horizon this morning I sat on a cold, cement bench waiting for it’s arrival. There was light in the sky, but the brilliance of the sun itself was still hidden from my eyes. In front of me was a beautiful body of water. It was still covered in ice, but there was a patch of water just in front of me. In that area were about six to ten ducks. At times they seemed to just be content floating on the surface of the cool lake. Other times they disappeared into the water. I’m assuming they were looking for breakfast. (I was hungry too, but I wasn’t about to go in there looking for it.) We all sat there and shared our morning together.
You may know that my family is from West Michigan. In fact, our home was just under a mile from the Lake Michigan shoreline. Since Lake Michigan is west of the land mass called Michigan, the sun always sets over the lake. You can imagine the gorgeous, postcard-esque sunsets that we’ve encountered over the years. Knowing how majestic and dazzling a sunset can be over a pristine body of water, I’m about to admit something that might be a surprise…
If I was given the choice to see a sunrise on a cold, iced-over morning sitting on a cold cement bench or a sunset on a beautiful warm summer evening, I would without a doubt pick the shivering sunrise EVERY SINGLE TIME.
You may be asking why? If you were to see a picture of the sun in all of it’s brilliance balancing between the sky and the earth on the horizon, you wouldn’t be able to tell if it was a sunrise or a sunset. They look the same. They both have the ability to take your breath away. As beautiful and captivating a sunset is, it’s signifying the end of the day. With a sunrise, you’re starting fresh. You have a clean slate to work from. Yesterday is gone, a new day has dawned. I’m not sure what you’re thinking, but I love the ability to start anew with the struggles and failures of the previous day washed off.
Looking at how we observe the death of Christ I see a sacrificial sunset.
On the cross, not only was Jesus nailed mercilessly to that post that day, on Him were all of the times that I’ve exaggerated the truth, looked lustfully or any other thing wrong in the eyes of our Savior. It’s not just my sins that were on Him. Yours were too. Generations upon generations of sins were on His shoulders. Those sins weighed Him down as His hands and feet were nailed to those beams. Those sins on His shoulders would deny us access our perfect and holy God. As I write tears crawl down my face thinking of what Christ went through for us. He loves us so much that he endured the crown of thorns that was forcefully thrust upon His head. He endured the humiliation of being naked on the tree in front of all to see. He beared the agony of hanging on cross. Then come the words Jesus says in John 19:30, “It is finished.” With those words, Christ exhales for the last time on the cross and the sun sets on our sins. After that the lifeless body of Christ is prepared and buried in a sealed tomb.
But then three days later there’s the glorious sunrise, a literal Son-rise!
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. (Luke 24:1-8 NIV)
Three days later Jesus kept His promise. He left the linen cloth He was wrapped in behind and emerged, full of life from the tomb! He conquered death! Not only did Christ appear to the three women, but to others as well. In Luke, 24: 45-47 Jesus said when He was with the apostles, “It is written that the Christ would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day and that a change of hearts and lives and forgiveness of sins would be preached in his name to all nations, starting at Jerusalem.”
The forgiveness of sins Christ mentions is the beauty of a sunrise. Just as Christ was raised from the dead, we too have been given a new life in Christ. Because of His death and resurrection, we have been given access to the Creator of the sunrise. We are able to start our days knowing that we have the ability to start fresh. The sins that would deny us access to the Artist responsible for the sunrise were left on the cross.
As the radiant sunrise arose over the horizon this morning, I was reminded again that He’s alive, I’m forgiven and because of His love for us, heaven’s gates are open wide!