Scripture Reading: Mark 16:1-8
This day is the our greatest celebration. It really is. Every other Sunday service we have is because of this Sunday.
This is the Sunday where it truly all begins. Some might say Christmas is the start of it all, but in reality it is this Sunday.
Why this Sunday?
Because if Jesus didn’t rise for the grave, we would have nothing. Absolutely nothing.
Think about it. People are born every day. Some of us are seen as important, some of us less so. Personally, I believe all of us are important, but the world sometimes has different levels of importance. Anyway, we all are born, we all live our lives, and then we die.
I’ve had some great teachers in my life; people who inspired me, who encouraged me to live to my potential. And I am thankful for them. In fact, I still think of several teachers I had in high school often. I wonder how they are, where they are, and how many others they may have inspired in their life. But the reality is, they are going to die some day.
I know it’s not a happy thought, but the reality is they will die. We all get our turn.
What’s the old saying? “Nothing is certain but death and taxes”
There are many people who are following Jesus who call him a great teacher. And he is a great teacher. He inspires people. He encourages them. He helps them learn about themselves and about God. He is truly a great teacher.
And there are many people in the world today who simply see Jesus as a great teacher. But if we stop there, we are missing a huge point. We are missing his true identity. Jesus is more than a great teacher.
I don’t know about you, but none of my teachers ever cast out demons. I’ve never seen a teacher tell a paraplegic to walk, and then see them get up and walk. I’ve never seen a teacher walk into a room where someone has died then walk out of the room with that person hand in hand.
And I went to a pretty good school.
Jesus is more than a teacher.
Teachers don’t come back from the dead. Now wouldn’t that be terrifying news for some of you if they did!
If Jesus had not walked out of that tomb on the first Easter morning, the world would be a very different place. First of all, we would not be here this morning, or any Sunday morning, because there would be no churches. Christianity would never have existed.
Could you imagine a world where churches never existed? I shudder just to think about it. Think of all that the church has contributed to the world. Schools, hospitals, food banks, outreach centres, just to name a few. These were all started by churches.
These things exist because churches started them as a response to people in need. They were following God’s call to serve others just as Jesus served those in need as he walked the earth.
Had Jesus never walked out of the tomb, the disciples would have never been fired up to preach and share the stories of Jesus. Jesus would have been forgotten, a memory of a distant past in a far away land. The disciples would have dispersed to their old lives. The memories of what Jesus had taught would have faded. There would be only vague stories of his life, if anything at all.
But that’s not what happened.
This morning we remember that women made their way to the tomb to anoint the body of Jesus. Wondering as they walked how they would move the giant stone that the Romans had placed over the mouth of his grave. Carrying their spices, walking in relative silence in the pre-dawn light. Still in mourning after the loss of their great, inspiring friend and teacher.
As they approach the tomb in the low light of the morning, something doesn’t look quite right. There’s something different about the tomb, but they aren’t quite sure. As they get closer they see the massive stone has already been moved, the tomb is open!
Now I wonder, did they begin to run to the tomb, or did they approach it cautiously, unsure of what they would find?
As they make their way inside, they find someone already in there. A young man, dressed all in white, and he has a message for them.
“Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you.” (Mark 16:6-7)
Now, if we look at the various gospel accounts of the resurrection we will see different stories being told. The characters may differ slightly. How the women are told might be different. Who comes to the tomb may be different. And doubters might say, “See, they can’t even get this important story straight.”
Sure, the details may be different, and each gospel writer has their reason for writing it the way they did, but here’s the point. And it’s the only point that really matters.
The. Tomb. Is. Empty!
Jesus is not there!
He is RISEN!!!
Jesus does exactly as he promised, and the women at the tomb are the first to know it. They are the first to receive this message and they go back to tell all the others. Jesus is ALIVE!!!
All the pain and suffering, all the mourning and despair from the death of Jesus is GONE! HE IS ALIVE!!!
Hallelujah, Jesus is risen from the dead. His promise is true!
If it never happened, then we would have nothing today.
Think about it. Hundreds of thousands of beautiful pieces of music would have never been composed. Just as many powerful songs would never have been written.
The world changed on that morning 2000 years ago. Nothing would ever be the same.
God, in Jesus Christ, risen from the grave, made all things new.
Sorry, let me correct that, He makes all things new.
On Friday, Jesus took all the sin of the world and he took it upon himself on the cross. He died for our sins.
Jesus was perfectly innocent, yet he took all our guilt and shame upon himself. The punishment we deserve… he suffered for it and died.
That’s only part of the good news. Because this morning we celebrate his victory over our sin. We are part of the victory of Jesus Christ because he overcame it all. My sin, your sin, the sins of all who follow him.
We have been set free. We are made new.
In Jesus we are also victors over sin and death when we call upon him as Saviour of our lives.
What great and wonderful news!
What a glorious day this is!
What a time to be part of his incredible story!
Jesus Christ, victor in all things. Lord of all the earth!
What a Saviour! What love he has for us!
My friends, in Jesus we are reminded we are loved by God so much he was willing to take our suffering for us.
But we have also seen in Jesus that we are not held under threat of punishment, we are held in love.
A love that changes the world. A love which extends from heaven, into our souls and permeates each and every aspect of our lives. And it’s a love we share with those around us.
Just as Jesus showed that love to those around him all his life as well.
My friends, Jesus Christ is risen.
His light continues to shine in a world which needs him just as much as any other time in the whole of human history.
We have seen the darkness of the world. But we have also seen the glorious light of God shine. It pushes back the darkness, and the Lord makes himself known.
Not in a teacher. But in a Saviour.
The Lord, our Lord, is alive.
And he will reign over this earth for now and forevermore.
Amen and amen.