Andy Hollifield 5-22-17
Mark 16:2 And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun.
John 20:19 Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.
Acts 20:7 And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight.
1 Corinthians 16:2 Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come.
The phrase “the first day of the week” appears in the bible eight times. Eight is the number of completeness in scripture. As you can see by the scriptures I have listed, the first day of the week carries some significance. In part because it immediately follows the sabbath. In Mark 16, they came to show honor and respect to the Lord on the first day because labor and travel were forbidden on the sabbath under the law with few exceptions. In John, on the same day as mentioned in Mark, Jesus appeared to his disciples that evening. In Acts, Paul did quite a bit of preaching on the first day of the week. In 1 Corinthians, tithing was put in store on the first day of the week. A lot of these things, the honoring, the rejoicing, the preaching, and the tithing are all things that we still practice today albeit often not to the extent we should.
The one thing that goes unsaid but is totally obvious when you realize it, is that the first day of the week is a new beginning. Not only did the resurrection of Christ go public on the first day of the week, but it was also the start of what Christ’s followers were afraid was the beginning of the end for them. Little did they realize as they awoke from a long and probably nearly sleepless night, that life as they had always known it was about to change forever. Jesus, according to Matthew 12:40 and unrealized to his disciples, had just spent 3 days and nights in the heart of the earth and ascended, per Ephesians 4:8, leading captivity captive and gave gifts unto men and presented the supreme sacrifice of his own blood to the Father for our sins. That took place after he had seen Mary in the garden because he told her not to touch him for he had not yet ascended. That evening he appeared to his disciples and showed him the nailprints and 8 days later offered Thomas to put his finger in them. The first day of the week has tremendous importance in our faith.
Too often, we are prone to complain about the start of a new week without ever realizing it is a privilege denied to many. According to the Asheville Citizen Times Obituaries on Sunday, they had 139 obituaries. That is 139 people who saw the first day of the week last week and most probably planned on seeing it this week but never made it. That is only the ones we know about. There were probably a lot of people just in our region that pillowed their head last night and went into eternity before last week ended. They never saw the first day of the week. Jesus taught us in Matthew 6:34 “Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” He had just finished teaching his disciples how to pray and instructing them how they should live and was trying to teach them to focus on today and make it count for the Lord. James 4:13-14 “Go to now, ye that say, Today or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: (14) Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.”
There is an old saying that kind of puts things in perspective; “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift from God. That’s why we call it the present.” That quote is attributed to Bill Keane, the cartoonist that created “The Family Circus.” Today will be tomorrow’s history. How will your’s read? Will you begin the week complaining or just be thankful that you got to see “the first day of the week” again? What did you do to give God honor and glory? If you are reading this, it means that God has blessed you with another present. No one is reading about you in the obits this morning. Your preacher probably didn’t preach till midnight on the first day of the week. You have one more opportunity to make history. Something you do or say today may outlive you for years to come. You may even have the opportunity to give someone the gift of life. Will you do it? No I don’t mean a blood donation from you, I mean a blood donation from Christ. You may not can give it yourself but will you tell someone where they can get it? The first day of the week is now gone, it is history. Tomorrow may never get here for you or I, that remains to be seen and is in the hands of our creator and is a mystery to us. But today is different. We have received the gift and it is ours to do with as we see fit. Will what we do today make a difference in someone’s tomorrow?
Needless to say, I am glad you lived to see the first day of the week. Since God has given you this gift, what will you do with it? He thought enough of you to share his Son with you, do you think enough of him to share his Son with someone else? Congratulations on your gift! Have a blessed day in the Lord!!!