Directions to the Resurrection by David R. Denny Ph.D. April 21,2019. Drummondtown Baptist Church, Accomac Virginia
Introduction: This morning I’m going to do something that men are not good at: I’m going to give directions. I’m so used to getting lost when I drive places that I don’t even worry about it anymore. I just enjoy wherever I end up.
*Joke—I heard of a tired hunter out in the wilds stumbled into a camp. “Am I glad to see you,” he said. “I’ve been lost for three days.” “Don’t get too excited, friend,” the other hunter replied. “I’ve been lost for three weeks.”
This morning I’m going to give us all directions to the resurrection. The directions come from the Scriptures so I feel pretty safe about them. And I hope that when it is all said and done all of us will gather there together and marvel at the wonder of Easter.
- Turn Left at the Via Dolorosa. Let us begin our journey to the Resurrection by turning left on the Via Dolorosa, the street of Sorrows and Sighs. This ancient thoroughfare runs 2000 ft east to west beginning at the Fortress of Antonia near the Dome of the Rock. Here Pilate condemned the Savior and cast Him aside as so much rubbish. Once out upon the street, the cross was placed upon his shoulders and the death march began. The crown of thorns tore into his scalp and sent rivulets of blood into his eyes and down his sacred cheeks. He stumbled blindly forward gasping for air, his legs trembling beneath the weight. He only lasted several hundred yards before he collapsed at the third station of the cross.
If you want to find the resurrection you must walk with Jesus along the stations of the cross and study his features as he carries the sins of the world—your sins and mine. Tradition says He fell three times on this memorable road before he reached Golgotha.
At station 4, he pauses and says farewell to his mother. How sorrowful this moment must have been. How does a mother say goodbye like this? It is a moment beyond words. Perhaps they spoke only with their eyes. And then, prodded by the soldiers, he continued until He could go no further. Luke tells us (Luke 23:26) that the soldiers forced a man from the country named Simon to carry the cross for Jesus.
Perhaps you say at this moment that you will skip the stations of the cross and run straight for the empty tomb. But I say you will never find it unless you first turn left at the Via Dolorosa and live the sorrow and pain of the long walk of shame.
- Turn right at Golgotha. But it is not enough to merely walk beside Him on the Via Dolorosa. As I study my map I see clearly that you must turn at Golgotha if you intend to find the Resurrection. Come with me. Let us stay on track for we don’t’ want to get lost. Let us stop beneath the cross and pay our respects to the only one who loved you and me fully. You cannot find the resurrection without first finding the cross.
As we take the graphic scene in we notice the coarse behavior of the soldiers who gamble for the garments of the Savior. Listen to the crackle of the dice as it tumbles from the cup upon the ground. Hear the raucous laughter of the one who won the cloak and the good-natured ribbing of the losers who lost a day’s pay.
Listen to the sneers of the religious scribes who wonder out loud why this man can’t save himself like he did so many others. The sarcasm cuts through the wails of those who are devastated.
Hear the hollow challenge of the criminal to his side. ‘If you’re a King, save yourself! You’re no king. You can’t do it. You’re just a criminal like us’.
If you would find the resurrection you must turn left at Golgotha. It is here you hear the golden words of the dying savior—“Father forgive them for they know not what they do.”
It is here at the cross that we hear the final words the Savior uttered as a man—“It is finished!” If you would find the resurrection, you must hear these last whispered gasps. It is the only way to the resurrection.
*I looked up the value of decibels in everyday life. Heavy street traffic is 90 decibels—The cabin of a jet cruising is 80 db.—Average conversation at three feet away is 60 db.—quiet auditorium is 40 db.—a recording studio is 30—db.—and rustling leaves are 20 db.
*And so it is at 25 dbs.—the muffled sounds of fading leaves in a fall orchard that we hear the final words of Jesus—It is finished. Miss these words and you will likely get lost on your journey to the Resurrection.
- Head straight ahead to Garden Street. We now are at our final directional point. We have turned left on the Via Dolorosa and experienced the sorrow of the lasts step of Jesus. We turned right at Golgotha and stood like penitents beneath the cross.
Now we must study the map and go straight ahead to Garden street for it here that we hear the sound of a woman weeping. She is distraught and continues to stoop down and look within an empty tomb where Jesus once lay. And as I observe her pain I know she is near the resurrection but has not found it yet. She followed all the previous directions: She walked the street of sorrows following Jesus as he struggled under the cross. She stood at Golgotha mesmerized by His sacrifice. And now she stands in the garden beside the tomb but she has not found the resurrection yet.
It is only when she turns to the gardener that dramatic changes occur. The gardener asks why she is crying. She explains her story and begs him to take her to the body if he knows the way (John 20:15). Just tell me where you have laid him, she asks in words laden with tears. She has not found it yet. She is near just like you may be near but she had not found it yet. She is so close. She is only four letters from the resurrection. And when you are this close you see its contours and your whole body begins to tremble. And then He says “Mary!” And she found it.