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Easter Sunday Homily

Easter Morning
Acts 10:34a, 37-43
Psalm 118:1-2, 16-17, 22-23 (24)
Colossians 3:1-4
John 20:1-9
April 21, 2019

Our gospel reading this Easter morning tells the story of how Mary of Magdala went to the tomb early in the morning of the first day of the week. 

Upon arriving, she finds “the stone removed from the tomb.”  We know this must be important because “she ran” to Simon Peter and the other disciple.  Upon hearing the stone has been moved they ran to the tomb.  They enter and we are given a description of what they saw.  We are told that the other disciple “saw and believed.” 

We aren’t told much else.  If this is all you ever heard, it probably won’t mean much to you.  In these nine verses, we are not told whose tomb it was, how long the person had been buried, or the significance of tomb being empty beyond it being a surprise.

Hearing these nine verses alone would be akin to picking up a book and reading the next to last chapter and nothing else.  You don’t know what happened before and you don’t know the very end of the story.

Of course, in a way that is exactly what we do when we read this one passage.  It is part of a bigger story.  There are nineteen chapters before these verses and a chapter and a half afterwards.  And that’s if you just look at the Gospel of John.  There’s also the whole Old Testament before that tells the story of Salvation History, and Acts of the Apostles and New Testament letters that tell what happened after the tomb was found empty.

I can’t tell the whole story now.  I encourage you to read the Bible to hear it all.  For today, let me offer a very brief summary.

In the beginning”, God created everything from a “formless wasteland” (Genesis 1:1-2:2).  God brought order to the universe.  The last “thing” He created was human beings but were not just another “thing” for God created humans “in his own image.” 

Since then, God has always been watching over his people.  He cared for Abraham.  God rescued the Israelites from slavery in Egypt through Moses.  God gave them a great king in David.  God sent them many prophets like Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel.

The problem?  The people often didn’t listen.  They did not follow God’s Word. 

They sinned.

God provided the perfect remedy for sin.  He sent us his Son Jesus.

At Christmas, we celebrate Jesus’ birth.  Jesus was Son of God but willingly “emptied himself” becoming one of us yet obedient to the Father even to death on a Cross (Philippians 2:6-11).

Before Jesus went to the Cross, He went around teaching what it means to be God’s disciples for He came not to abolish the Law but to fulfill it (Matthew 5:17).

He also cured many people who were ill and drove out evil demons so people would know that He had the power of God at work in him.

Unfortunately, not everyone listened.  In fact, there were those who directly opposed Jesus.  He wasn’t doing what they expected or wanted. 

In their view, since He didn’t do what they expected, He couldn’t be the Messiah.  So, they sought to have him killed. 

Jesus went through much suffering.  That was what we celebrated on Good Friday.  Ultimately, He was crucified on the Cross.  This was intended as humiliation.  (Deuteronomy 21:22-23). 

To someone who doesn’t know the whole story, it would seem like Jesus was defeated by his enemies.  He wasn’t.  His life was not taken from him.  He willingly gave it up as a sacrifice. 

If you read the Old Testament, you will find stories of the people offering sacrifices in atonement for their sins.  Those sacrifices were imperfect. 

Jesus is the Son of God, “without blemish” (Exodus 12:5), and so He is the one who offers the perfect sacrifice in giving his own life.  He is crucified for us.

He died on the Cross and was laid in the tomb.  It is his tomb that Mary of Magdala goes to.  It is his tomb that is empty on the third day.

This is Good News!  Jesus Christ is Risen Today.  His Resurrection shows us that not even death has power over him.  If you read the end of the story, you will hear that Jesus appeared to his disciples after his Resurrection so that they, so that we, would know what happened to him and know of eternal life.

Today we hear many different voices telling us how they think we should live.  Which voice should we listen to?  I choose to listen to Jesus. He is the one who died for me.  I trust him and I make him the stone that is the foundation for my life. 

Hearing what Jesus did for us should lead us to change our priorities from earthly things to “Think of what is above.

Rejoice for Jesus Christ is risen today.

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