Christ is risen!
Believing in the resurrection is what defines us as Christians. Not only are we here this morning because of the resurrection, but we gather every Sunday because of the resurrection. We worship on because each Sunday is a celebration of the resurrected Christ. We are who we are because of the event that occurred on this day. Without belief in the resurrection, Jesus is dead. Jesus would just be this guy, you know, who lived and died. Just a good man, a great teacher, but dead just like any other man who walked this earth at any other time in history. And that would make us, just followers of a good teacher; people who adhere to a certain great rabbi’s teachings.
But we are resurrection people. We believe in a resurrected Christ. We believe the tomb was empty, not because someone stole the body, but because Jesus got up and walked away. We believe Jesus died, yes, but we also believe he rose again. We believe the earth shook and the world changed. Because one who was dead, got up left his grave.
Jesus is alive this morning. We came here this morning knowing Jesus is alive. We know he did not stay in the tomb. We know his body was not left to decay.
And as we stand here on this beautiful morning, the thought of it should fill us with awe and wonder. Even though it is the foundational belief of our faith, because this is foundation, we should stand here amazed by the idea of it. Yet the fact is, most of us don’t take much time to think about the enormity of this one event and how it changed the world, changed our lives, changed everything forever and ever more. The very act of it shook the earth, and everything changed, the whole world changed.
As good Church going, Bible believing Christians, we all know the whole story. We all know Jesus was born to Mary. He lived some thirty three years. He gathered disciples, and went around the countryside teaching, preaching and healing. He went to Jerusalem on Passover week, where he was crucified on a Friday morning and then on the third day he was raised. This is our story, our faith.
These women, all these Marys, whom we read about in this passage, did not know what we know. They did not go to the tomb that morning expecting Jesus to have been risen from the dead. They did not go there in order see an empty tomb and speak to an angel. They went there that morning expecting to stand outside the tomb. Mary his mother to remember her baby, her son; to weep as any mother might mourn just days after his death. The other two Marys, come as support and also to mourn, each in their own way; as disciples, as friends, as ones who also loved him. They came to see a grave, a tomb. They needed to see it, to stand before the stone that blocked its entrance; to bring closure to the chaos of these dark days; to say their final goodbyes.
A tomb was all they expected to see that morning. They expected him to be as dead, as he was when he was taken down from the cross. They expected him to be as dead as he was when they put him in the tomb on Friday evening. As dead as he was when the stone was rolled to cover the tomb’s opening. Last time they had seen him he had been dead; dead, dead. Dead is not something that happens in degrees. Nearly dead, all but dead, mostly dead, as Miracle Max tells us (from the Princess Bride), means still slightly alive. Once you are fully dead, you can’t get much deader than dead. These women woke up this morning knowing Jesus was dead, they walked to the tomb in sadness, with heavy hearts and heavy steps, because he was most definitely and assuredly dead.
But then the earth shook. And when the earth shook the world changed. An angel appeared. The stone was rolled back. The guards fell down frightened. And the women were also frightened, but the Angel said the most unbelievable thing. He said Jesus has been raised. They show them the empty tomb and instruct to them to go proclaim the resurrection to his disciples,
They immediately left to do just that. But before they got very far, they encountered the newly resurrected Jesus. He spoke to them and they ran to him, clung to him, and worshipped him. The first resurrection celebration worship happened right there, impromptu at Jesus’ feet. And then Jesus then instructed them to go and tell his disciples.
What a wonderful privilege these women had that morning, to share with those who also knew Jesus as they knew him, that he is not dead, that he is alive! They took the news to the disciples. And that is where our passage leaves us this morning, with the women running off into the morning mist to tell the disciples the good news.
We serve the same risen savior; a risen savior who use to be dead. A risen savior; a savior who died, stayed dead from Friday all the way through Sunday morning. That means that his heart stopped beating, he stopped breathing, his brain stopped working, his body grew cold. He was dead, in every sense of the word, and then on Sunday morning, against all odds, against the very nature of what it means to be dead, and beyond all comprehension he was alive.
It is Sunday morning. We are these women. We know our savior is risen. We know the tomb was empty that morning. We have seen him. We know he is alive. We have our instructions, go and tell the others. What do we do?
Do we hide this fact in our hearts; ponder it, dwell up on it? Go back to our homes with our quiet awe, or do we go and tell the others?
The eleven were elsewhere, they were still living in the darkness of Friday night and Saturday, and these men would never have known unless these women went to them and told them the most amazing thing just happened. There are so many like them out there this morning; people who really do not know why we celebrate this morning; people who do not understand what fills us with joy, with awe, with wonder.
We CAN hold onto this truth, pack it away in some deep part of our being, where we can cherish it, know it for ourselves. Nurture our belief. Turn it into a sentimental moment of our Christianity. To be loved, cherished, kept safely from harm’s way, where it cannot be touched, seen or destroyed, only to be brought out on special occasions (perhaps once a year on a Sunday) to be treasured and admired, but then quickly put away once again. Live quietly pious Christian lives.
But, Jesus is alive, and when that happened the very earth shook with the news and the world has never been the same. How can we keep that to ourselves? How can we go back to our homes and ponder these things in our hearts? How can we not share this amazing truth with all those we know, share this truth with all whom we encounter? Christ rose from the dead, and is alive. How can we not be shaken, and tremble with this news? How can we ever be the same? Jesus is alive and it changes everything. Nothing will ever be the same. Nothing has ever been the same. How can we NOT allow our lives to be so transformed, so that every breath we breath whispers this truth, every movement we make, is motivated by this one event in all of history? Every word we speak, ultimately points to these words. Christ is risen, Christ is risen today, tomorrow, always. Christ is risen and we live as he lives, we love as he loves. Our lives are lived as screaming testimonies of what it is we have come here to celebrate.
Christ is risen!