Sunday, April 12, 2009



Intro.: I think we have all heard the reports of earthquakes in Italy this past week.
  1. As believers, we must begin by praying. But we are also called upon to help those in distress. Have you considered finding a relief agency involved with helping those who lost family members or homes this week.

  2. Having said that, we should note that earthquakes can happen in any part of the world. I have been involved in two quakes that I know of.

  3. The first while in high school – I was sitting in a high school chemistry lab. We just sat and stared at each other.

  4. The second was about 26 years ago while serving the church in Gloversville, NY. I was in the basement in my home office. At first, I thought it was my an upset stomach or just a brief loss of equilibrium. But the longer it lasted, the more I wondered. When I listened to the news, later that evening, I discovered the cause of my discomfort was an earthquake that was felt over five state area.

Read: Matthew 27:45-54; Matthew 28:1-10



  1. As I reread the events which took place during those last days of Christ's life and following His resurrection, I saw something that had never caught my attention before. During those three days, between Christ arrest and His resurrection, there were actually two earthquakes.

  2. I knew that there was an earthquake after Christ's death on the cross. And I knew that an earthquake occurred shortly after His followers found His empty tomb.

  3. But you know, I never bothered to add one to one to get two. So, though I knew there were two different earthquakes associated with Jesus death and resurrection, I never realized that there were two earthquakes that week.

T.S. Let's look at the events surrounding these two earthquakes.

  1. Earthquake #1: The death of Christ

    1. Contrasts seem to follow Jesus where ever he goes. Here we have the “Light of the World”, the one who was born with a star that show the way for wise men to his cradle. Yet at His death, we are told that there is darkness for three hours.

    2. It is during that three hours that we finally hear Jesus' words, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” or in English “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

    3. It probably would not surprise us, but those who hear Him do not understand. They think he talking to the famous Old Testament prophet Elijah – not realizing that He is talking to the very Father that has rejected Him.

(Appl.) Those that stood around the cross that day were not much different than us. We tend to see Jesus the way we want to see Him, rather than as He is. We take our experiences and interpret what Jesus says and what Jesus does using those experiences as being the norm. But we cannot do that – as we look at Jesus life, we need to accept what He does and what He says at face value – and rather than using our experiences to understand Him, we must use His life and words to understand our own.

(Ill.) One of the first, if not the first, earthquakes mentioned in scripture occurred when Moses was on Mt. Sinai. Exodus 19:18 says “Now Mount Sinai was wrapped in smoke because the Lord had descended on it in fire. The smoke of it went up like the smoke of a kiln, and the whole mountain trembled greatly.” Here we have the Lord meeting with the man that will deliver the Law to His people and the earth shakes. God's way of dealing with man is forever changed.

    1. Can we be surprised that the earth might also shake when the Son of God is dying on the cross? After all, God's way of dealing with man is forever changed.

  1. Earthquake #2: The Resurrection of Jesus Christ

    1. The two women did not quite get it right. They really expected to find Jesus in the tomb. They had not understood that Jesus would rise, they did not understand what Jesus had told them about that first Easter. They had gotten their doctrine wrong.

    2. On the other hand, their hearts were in the right place. They had come to worship their Lord. They had come to finish what had been done hurriedly a few days earlier. Jesus had come to be the focus of their lives, and that had not changed.

    3. The earthquake for the women was not the end of something, as it had been at the crucifixion. Rather, it was to get their attention.

(Ill.) If I asked a seismologist about this second quake, I suspect he would be less surprised than I was. You see, he knows about the aftershocks that accompany any large arthquake. Rescuers are well aware of the dangers of aftershocks that follow an earth quake. “Aftershocks are able to do serious damage, so don’t look them over lightly! They have the power to crumble buildings, roads, and bridges already weakened by the initial earth movement.”1

(Ill.) Have you ever noticed how when someone seems out of it or is totally distraught in the movies, the person is slapped. The purpose is to bring them back to reality. In some ways, that is what God was doing with this earthquake. God wanted to bring the women's focus away from the grief, away from the discouragement they were feeling. They needed to focus on Jesus. They had work to do.

(Appl.) In some ways, the women, in fact all of Jesus followers, were experiencing two earthquakes. The first was the very real earthquake that Matthew wrote about. The second brought as much pain, but it could not be recorded by and seismograph. It was the earthquake that they were experiencing in their lives. Jesus, the Son of God, had died. The man they had been following for three years was dead. The man who had taught and demonstrated what it meant to live for God had died. Their lives were shaken up – shaken to the very core. And when we find our lives shaken up that much, we need something that is steady, something that is constant, something they can cling to. Jesus is that something.2

Just like those first believers found their lives in an uproar, so will we. There will be times when a potentially crippling chronic illness (be it ours, a family member's, or a friend's) may shake up our lives. Or it may be some event in our lives. Maybe the day we realize that we need to depend on someone else more than we did in the past. You can think of the earthquakes in your life – and when those earthquakes come, we need a quiet point. A place that is rock solid and unchanging – that place is at the feet of Jesus. “If we’re going to be stabilized in an ever-quaking, shifting world, we must fix our eyes upon the fixed One, Jesus Christ—the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8)”. Decide today, that when the next earthquake hits, you will turn and face the unchanging one, the one who loves you more than you love yourself.

Conclusion: I don't usually think about earthquakes when I think about Easter.

  1. I think about chocolate, Jelly Beans, and Peeps. I think about stuffed animals and Easter Dinner.

  2. But earthquakes were there for that first Easter. As Christ died and rose again, there were Earthquakes.

  3. And we still have earthquakes today – both real kinds and those that can tear our lives apart in unexpected ways.

  4. But we, like the early church, must remember to focus on Jesus when we are hit by life's earthquakes.

  5. You can begin by focusing on Jesus today.



2Courson, J. (2003). Jon Courson's Application Commentary (213). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

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