Easter Sunday 2019
Easter Sunday – 2019
Christ is risen!
He is risen indeed!
This Easter we proclaim once again that Christ is risen from the dead.
Scripture: Luke 24: 1-12
Easter Sunday - 2019
That first Easter morning must have been full of fear. Of course, it wasn’t called Easter then, that name would come much later. For them it was two days after Jesus had died. It was the first day that they were able to go and tend to his body. For them yesterday had been the Sabbath and it was forbidden to go to the grave and apply spices to keep the body from smelling. It was also Passover, which required its own observations.
I imagine that the women were afraid. Would guard be posted at the tomb? Would the Romans or the high priests have spies reporting back to them about who went to the tomb of Jesus? And so, it is with fear and trepidation that I imagine those women went down to the tomb. It is also likely why they went very early in the morning, to avoid being seen.
Afterall, they didn’t want to end up like Jesus to be branded a criminal like him.
There is no mention of the disciples until the women go back and report on what they have seen and heard. The disciples might still be hiding in the upper room, afraid to show their faces. Afraid for the same reasons why the women go to the tomb very early in the morning. Afraid they might be arrested or worse.
For us Easter is a celebration, Christ is risen! The trumpets blast, the choirs sing, there is an air of triumph about us. Death has been defeated, Christ has risen from the grave. In all of this we find our forgiveness, we find our relationship with God restored to how God desires it to be.
But not that first Easter. It was full of fear and confusion. When the women arrive at the tomb they find that the stone has already been rolled away. Did they wonder who had arrived before them? Were they at the right tomb? To find the tomb empty, with no body. I can imagine where there minds must have raced. Did the Romans or the High Priests have the body removed, so that no one could come and worship at the tomb?
Luke’s gospel tells us that the women were puzzled. Puzzled, afraid, concerned. What would any of us do if we found ourselves in that situation? Our friend, the one we believed to be the Son of God dead and now his body missing.
Next Luke reaches back to the beginning of his gospel account. It is angelic messenger’s who tell the women what has happened. The angels remind them of the words that Jesus himself spoke to them. “The Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, be crucified, and three days later rise to life.”
It is only then that things begin to click. The fear that the women felt, the puzzlement at the missing body disappears and a sense of wonder overtakes them. Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary the mother of James are the first followers of Jesus to be informed of the truth. They are the first ones to realize that the words that Jesus spoke were true. Though they do not see Jesus himself, the reminder of his words and the empty tomb compel them to proclaim to the other disciples that Jesus must have risen from the dead.
And now it is the disciples turn to be full of fear, doubt and puzzlement. They tell the women that they don’t believe them, that they are speaking nonsense. The disciples are still living with fear and doubt. Their dreams have been dashed and it will take an encounter with Jesus in the upper room before they have those doubts dispelled.
As we examine the Easter story again what questions do we bring to it?
Are we full of doubt like the disciples?
Do we hide in the upper room? Do we doubt the story that has been presented to us?
Are we full of fear like the women?
Do we worry about who will see you and identify you as followers of Christ?
The resurrection of Jesus, the Easter story is the highlight of the Christian year. Society and the marketing departments for many companies might like us to think that Christmas is our most important holiday. But for the Christian, it is Easter that we find our identity. In Easter we recognize ourselves as resurrection people. And just who was it that was raised?
Earlier this morning I read to a passage called Then Easter Dawns. The passages is as follows, “Then Easter dawns. The scandal of Easter was not simply that a supernatural event occurred. Minds in the ancient world weren’t divided by the rigid-supernatural dualism that forms modern minds. In those days miracles were notable not for defying the laws of nature, but for conveying an unexpected meaning or message through an unusual or unexplainable medium. What was the scandalous meaning conveyed by the resurrection of Jesus? It was not simply that a dead man was raised. It was who the raised man was.
“Someone rejected, mocked, condemned, and executed by both the political and religious establishments was raised. A convicted outlaw, troublemaker and rabble rouser was raised. A condemned blasphemer and lawbreaker was raised. A nonviolent nonconformist who included the outcasts – and therefore became an outcast – was raised…
“Jesus now reigns for us as the non-violent king, the servant-king, the king of love. He has already ascended and has already been enthroned, which is to say that we don’t need to wait for some future day to start living his way. We can, we must, begin the insurrection of resurrection now.” (McLaren, Brian D. Why did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Mohammed Cross the Road?: Christian Identity in a Multi-Faith World. Jericho Books, 2012, p. 175).
If these words are true and I hold them to be true, then we need to let go of the fear and doubt that grips us. Too often we allow fear and doubt to cripple us from doing the work of Christ in the world. Too often we forget about the kingdom of God and instead we follow the ways of the world. When we know in our hearts that it was the ways of the world which led to Christ dying on the cross.
This Easter as we confront the story of Christ’s resurrection we look to Jesus and are reminded of the words of life. That Christ would be raised on the third day. We need to come back to this story, over and over again. We need to be reminded of God’s goodness, that Jesus has been raised from the dead.
We need to be like Peter, amazed at what had happened. And we need to share that amazement with everyone we meet. Amen.
St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church
St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, Cobourg is part of the Presbyterian Church in Canada. The congregation was established in 1833 and continues to serve the community.