The Resurrection of Our Lord (3/23/2008)
Lessons: Acts 10:34-43 or Jeremiah 31:1-6 Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24 Colossians 3:1-4 St. John 20:1-18 or St. Matthew 28:1-10
Prayer of the Day: O God, you gave your only Son to suffer death on the cross for our redemption, and by his glorious resurrection you delivered us from the power of death. Make us die every day to sin, so that we may live with him forever in the joy of the resurrection; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
28.1 After the Sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. 2 And suddenly there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. 4 For fear of him the guards shook and became like dead men. 5 But the angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. 6 He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.' This is my message for you." 8 So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9 Suddenly Jesus met them and said, "Greetings!" And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, "Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me."
St. Matthew 28:1-10, New Revised Standard Version Bible (C)1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America).
The New Testament presents us with a rich and lively collection of Gospel accounts - each of which, in its own way, attempts to draw us into God's heart, and transform our lives. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John each had their own perspectives, their own ways of communicating and their own audiences. But they held in common the desire to share with us the great good news that God raised Jesus from death, that our sin is forgiven as a gift, and that we are called to share this good news with anyone who will receive it.
St. Matthew makes this clear in the closing paragraphs of his Gospel. Early on Easter morning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary visit the tomb of Jesus. They were going, no doubt, to pay their respects to their crucified teacher. When they arrived, though, God had a remarkable surprise in store for them. A thunderous earthquake shook the earth, and an angel descended from heaven who rolled the stone away from the tomb. He invited them to come in and see. They certainly expected a body and grave clothes, but saw, instead, that the tomb was empty. Jesus had been raised. The power of God had intervened, and had accomplished the impossible.
St. Luke then uses a simple word, and repeats it four more times. Go, the angel says. "Go quickly and tell his disciples... he is going ahead of you to Galilee..." And then, moments later, as they race from the tomb with fear and great joy, Jesus meets them and says, "Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee." Just a few verses later, we meet this word again, when Jesus instructs his disciples to "Go and make disciples of all nations."
The women, first, and then the disciples hear the very last words of Jesus - a command for them to go to the world, and share with it the good news of the resurrection, and of God's powerful love and grace.
This Sunday, many will come to church and join us for worship. They will come for the music. They will come for the decorations. They will come for the energy. They will come for the show. (Some will even come for the Pastor's sermon!) Many will come this Sunday - some of whom we only see now and again throughout the year. When they come, we hope that they will be moved by their experience. We hope that they will be fed by the word. We hope that they will be touched by the presence of Christ in the meal.
But the real question is this: How many who come this weekend will go, and share what they receive with others? How many will heed these words of Jesus, and realize that the gift of faith is not one to hoard, as if it were given to us for our own use and benefit alone? How many will put themselves in the place of those two Marys, or the disciples of Jesus?
Easter Sunday announces the greatest good news in the history of the world: the good news of Jesus' life and God's power. It is news too good to hoard. We must share it. Go, my friends. Tell the good news. It is our calling as disciples of Jesus Christ.
David J. Risendal, Pastor (March 19, 2008)
Exploring This Week's Text:
- What were Mary and Mary expecting to find at the tomb of Jesus.
- How did the angel's words completely change what they experienced there?
- What was the result of their willingness to go quickly and tell the others?
Connecting with This Week's Text:
- Who was instrumental in telling me about Jesus?
- How has knowing Jesus, and experiencing his grace, changed my life?
- Who might I go and tell about Jesus? How might I help them to see the power of believing in Christ?