Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Lord’s Day


Jesus was nailed to a Roman cross at about 9am on a Friday morning just outside the City of Jerusalem. He was crucified between two thieves, one repentant of his sins and the other not. At noon the sun was covered by a mysterious darkness that lasted about 3 hours at which time the Lord cried with a loud voice, yielded up His Spirit and died.

The Jewish festival of Passover was to begin in earnest along with the Sabbath at sundown that day. In the rush to get these executions completed guards were sent to break the legs of those on the three crosses in order to expedite their deaths. When it was reported that Jesus was already dead, none of His bones were broken. Rather a follower of Jesus, a wealthy man named Joseph, claimed His body and accompanied by another secret disciple of Christ, hurriedly buried Jesus in a new tomb belonging to Joseph which was near Golgotha.

Jesus was wrapped in cloths and laid to rest with spices for burial before sundown on Friday – the day before the Sabbath – Day One. As He lay entombed it shortly became the Sabbath with the closing of the official Jewish day and a new day began – The Sabbath – Day Two. All day Saturday and into the evening our Lord’s body was in the grave. Sundown on Saturday brought another new day – Day Three.

Along about sunrise on Sunday morning, the first day of the week, there was an earthquake and an angel sent from heaven rolled the stone away from the entrance to the tomb. Having spoiled principalities and powers Jesus made a show of them openly and was resurrected to life as the undisputed King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Jesus walked out of that garden tomb on the 3rd day victorious over death, hell and the grave.

Jesus first appeared to Mary that same Sunday morning, then to the two disciples as they walked on the road to Emmaus that Sunday evening. Later that same night Jesus also appeared to the disciples who were gathered together in a secret place. They were hiding for fear that those same people who had crucified the Lord would also arrest and condemn them.

When Jesus appeared to the disciples that first Sunday night, Thomas was absent from the meeting. Later those present attempted to convince Thomas that the Lord was alive but Thomas refused to believe saying that he would have to see the nail prints for himself. It is unknown what Jesus did, where He went and for what reasons why He was not seen of the disciples or any of His friends for several days.

It is evident from the first appearance that Jesus wished His disciples to go to the Galilee and to meet Him there. However the disciples did not leave Jerusalem all that week of Passover. Interestingly enough the Gospel of John records the next appearance of Jesus one week later, back in the same room, again on a Sunday, only this time Thomas is present.

John 20

26 And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, "Peace to you!"

Eight days later – it was a Sunday …

Perhaps it was because Jesus was resurrected on a Sunday morning, or maybe it was accepted from His habit of showing up at the disciple’s Sunday gatherings, we can’t know which – but we do know that this pattern of meeting together, expecting the presence of the Lord to fill the meeting place and expecting to hear the voice of the Lord speak in their midst continued all throughout the New Testament.

Sunday being set aside as the Christian Sabbath was established and continued from that very first Sunday Resurrection Day celebration. Since that time the Apostles committed the first day of each week to worship of the resurrected Lord and even began to call it, “The Lord’s Day”.

The Apostle Paul had a habit of assembling disciples and new believers together for preaching on Sundays.

Acts 20

7 Now on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul, ready to depart the next day, spoke to them and continued his message until midnight.

(Hopefully I won’t preach until midnight … but if I do, don’t sit in the window and fall asleep – you might fall out and hurt yourself - - - you can read the rest of the story in Acts 20 if you aren’t familiar with the reference)

The Apostle Paul also gave instructions to the Churches he established concerning what he expected from them during their Sunday meetings:

1 Corinthians 16

1 Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given orders to the churches of Galatia, so you must do also:

2 On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come.

Even as late as AD 95 or 96, over 60 years after that first Sunday morning Church service, the elder Apostle John, the last of the original Apostles of the Lamb, was still recognizing Sunday as “The Lord’s Day” and worshipping Jesus on that day in Spirit and in Truth, expecting His presence and listening for His voice.

Revelation 1

10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet,

11 saying, "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last," and, "What you see, write in a book and send it to the seven churches which are in Asia …”

Allow me to share 5 reasons why we Believers attend Church on Sunday. Church is a place where:

· We come together to worship Almighty God

· We expect to encounter the presence of His Spirit

· We listen to hear the voice of the Lord

· We join ourselves with others to fund Kingdom projects

· We go out from to spread the Good News