XXI. Miracle of the Easter Sunrise Service
by Bill Hunt
The silver ball of rising sun appeared through an overcast horizon above the panoramic ocean expanse. It was an Easter Sunday sunrise I'll never forget. My brothers in the interfaith Deerfield Beach Ministerium invited me to speak for a small gathering on the sandy beach. About a dozen ministers of different churches gathered from surrounding towns.
They set up a portable platform stage and a small podium with a microphone. We arranged folding chairs with our backs to the bright morning sun. First we joined hands in a circle and prayed with about 20 church attendees who came to participate with us. I guess God heard our prayer.
As I was introduced and stood to the podium, I noticed beach people in bathing suits gathered, now about 200, and seemed a little fidgety. I assured them it was all right to attend in bathing suits. After all, it was a beach. Some had protective towels; some did not.
As I started to preach, a strong wind began to blow. I found I could not open my sermon outline sheets or even the pages of my Bible. Everything I planned disappeared in a few moments.
“The wind is so strong,” I said, “I'm going to have to forget my planned sermon notes and speak to you from my heart. But there is one scripture I want to share with you.” (I knew now my sermon would be up to the Holy Spirit.)
The gusty wind blew ever stronger. I fought with the flapping pages of my Bible. At last I found it. I wondered if the devil was trying to stop our service. I was wrong. The strong and mighty wind was not from the devil.
“Jesus said to her, 'I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live' ” (John 11:25 NKJ).
As I closed my windy Bible, I noticed the gathering attendees standing in a semi-circle around us had grown to some 600, standing or sitting on the sand listening attentively. Where were they all coming from, I wondered.
I told them of Jesus' prayer in the garden, the sweat of blood dripping to the ground, and his pleading three times for the apostles to join him.
“And He said, 'Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will' ” (Mark 14:36 NKJ).
The ministerium and I now noticed the audience on the beach had grown significantly. They counted approximately 2200 to 2500 guests. A most unusual crowd, but not for the beach. About a third were women in bikinis, a third men in bathing suites, and another third casually dressed. All listened attentively.
Jesus was brought illegally for judgment during the night hours before Annas, Caiaphas, and the Sanhedrin. He was betrayed three times by Peter who broke down and cried from remorse when the rooster crowed. Judas, realizing more was occurring than perhaps he had planned, despaired and hung himself.
Jesus was taken before Pilate for the sentence of death.
“Then Pilate asked Him, 'Are You the King of the Jews?”
“He answered and said to him, 'It is as you say' ” (Mark 15:2 NKJ).
“Then the soldiers led Him away into the hall called Praetorium, and they called together the whole garrison. 17 And they clothed Him with purple; and they twisted a crown of thorns, put it on His head, 18 and began to salute Him, 'Hail, King of the Jews!' 19 Then they struck Him on the head with a reed and spat on Him; and bowing the knee, they worshiped Him. 20 And when they had mocked Him, they took the purple off Him, put His own clothes on Him, and led Him out to crucify Him” (Mark 15:16-20 NKJ).
Jesus was abused horribly on the cross. After three hours he died.
“Now when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. 34 And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, 'Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?' which is translated, 'My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me'?” (Mark 15:33-35 NKJ).
I went on to tell the wonderful Easter morning story, how the women came and found the tomb empty and encountered the two angels, how Peter and John entered the tomb to be sure, how Mary Magdalene met Jesus, and the wonderful conversation of Jesus with the two disciples on the road to Emmaus.
I concluded with the story of Jesus meeting the apostles and then again Thomas in the upper room. And I told of how Jesus healed the denying Peter on the beach with three love affirmations.
“He said to him the third time, 'Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?' Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, 'Do you love Me?' And he said to Him, 'Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.' Jesus said to him, 'Feed My sheep' ” (John 21:17 NKJ).
That conclusion led to the greatest surprise of all. One of the ministers came up to help me with an altar call, and he said, “Bill, look!”
People were crying all through the audience. The Holy Spirit favored us with a mass anointing. I turned around to ask for help from the ministers and found they were crying, from the humble Alliance pastor to the Baptist Reverend Doctor. They were all wiping away tears.
People came forward, lines formed, and each of the ministers present walked down and began laying hands on prayer lines of people. We were Methodists, Alliance, Lutherans, Baptists, Pentecostals, and other faiths. God's Apostles were ministering together to a crowd of two thousand people standing in the sand on an Easter morning windy beach.
(True Story #21 of the series, 100 Million Miracles.)