Scripture: John 20:1-18
We have a little saying in our home, ironically we can’t remember where it began, but it gives us a small laugh in our home every time we say it.
You know those moments when you walk into a room and totally forget why you went there? You’re pretty sure you went to get something, but have no idea what it was. Somewhere along the line, Bev heard something somewhere that walking through doorways makes you forget things.
So when we walk into a room and forget why we are there, we simply shrug and say “Well, I guess I went through a door.”
It happens to everyone, probably on a regular basis. You are in one room, you realize you need something from another room. You get up and walk into the other room, but on your way you totally forget what you are doing. In the process, you’ve probably thought about 100 other things, 10 of which are likely things that are important that need to get done; like groceries or laundry or to call someone. And by the time you get to the kitchen, you just stand in the middle wondering why you’re there.
What do you do? You go back to the other room and try to remember what it was you were doing, then you try and piece it all together retracing your steps, and most of the time you do remember, but there are those occasions where you just never figure it out.
It’s just the way we work. Our brains only seem to be able to process so much information at once. Over tax it, and we forget things.
Sometimes I’ll be in a meeting and while I’m waiting to speak, things will come to mind that I need to say, usually a response to what someone else has shared, and I know I’m going to forget. So I try and give myself clues. I’ll use my fingers to prompt me how many points I need to make. It usually doesn’t work, but it does help on the rare occasion. I need to find a better system, especially if I don’t have paper to help keep track of things.
We forget things. We forget what we’re looking for. We forget names. We forget where we parked the car at the mall. We just forget. We all do it. We all feel foolish when we do. But it’s human nature. It’s who we are.
Now, after all of this, I need to remember where I’m going next in this message!
Easter is the most joyous morning of the entire year. And it should be. I’d argue it HAS to be when we look at it from the church’s point of view.
Jesus is no longer in the tomb. He is alive! How wonderful! How glorious! How amazing! This is the best news ever!
Now on it’s own, this event isn’t as exciting. If you said to me the tomb is empty, Jesus isn’t here, and I knew nothing of the circumstances, I might say, “So? What’s the big deal? The funeral home lost the body, I’m sure it’ll show up somewhere.”
But when we place the empty tomb withing the context of all we know about the life of Jesus, and what he taught us was going to happen, then the empty tomb is the greatest new ever shared!
Jesus, who just days ago, died on the cross, for crimes he never committed; Jesus who was taken down from the cross and locked in a tomb; he’s gone! He’s not where we left him!
Wait a minute! Isn’t this what he said was going to happen? Didn’t he tell us that in three days he would be raised from the dead? Didn’t he tell us he was going to return to his Father in heaven? Didn’t he promise he would never leave us alone?
Then, if these things are true, and if the tomb is empty, then this MUST be the greatest news for all time! It has been the greatest news for 2000 years and it will still be the greatest news even if the Toronto Maple Leafs somehow win the Stanley Cup this year.
On Friday, Jesus showed us what he was willing to go through so that we may be set free from the sin in our lives. Jesus was willing to take on immense suffering for our pain, even though he did nothing wrong to deserve such punishment. Jesus died for us. He gave up his life so we would not have to suffer for our sin, our own moral failures.
Depending on how you have lived your life, this can seem over the top and unnecessary. You might also think, “I don’t deserve this. I have too much pain, too much history, too much baggage to deserve any freedom in my life.”
And from an earthly point of view, maybe your right. Maybe we don’t deserve to be saved from our sin.
But that’s not our call to make. In fact, the decision has already been made. We don’t make that judgement call. God does.
And God says, “I see what you have done, I see your sin, I see your failures, I see everything you have ever done… and I send my son to take your punishment in your place. This is how much I love you.”
And so, as result, an innocent man died for your freedom. That in itself is pretty amazing, pretty humbling if I might say so myself.
But this morning shows us there is victory over sin. This morning shows us these things which should lead us into death have no control over us, because Jesus died for them. And in the resurrection, Jesus shows us we are born to a new life in his victory over sin and the grave.
He shows us: We. Are. Free!
What is it you are looking for in your life? Are you looking for a career? Are you looking for a good retirement? A good home? A new car? Are you looking for meaning? Are you looking for peace? Contentment? What are you looking for in your life?
We’re all looking for something. It’s human nature to want to improve upon what we have. Sure, sometimes we take it to the extreme, partially because we’ve become brainwashed by ad agencies to need the latest and greatest toys.
But if we look deep within our hearts, we may discover there is something we are looking for we’ll never find on a shelf or a showroom.
By examining deep in our hearts, we may discover we are looking for something which will fill our lives and give us hope.
I think, if you talk with most people, they will agree there is something deep in their lives they are looking for. That if they really consider their own lives, there is some sort of hole they can’t seem to fill.
So they keep looking. Many times we will forget what we are looking for. We’ll walk into a room and wonder why we are there. We’ll wake up in the morning and wonder how it is we got to this point in our lives, and what will we do for the rest of our days.
We need meaning. We need hope. We need to know we are loved. We need to fill that hole deep inside of us, but we don’t know how. We don’t know where.
If this is you, then I’m glad you are here.
Mary Magdalene went to the tomb to find the body of Jesus so she could anoint it with oil. When she got there, the tomb was empty. She didn’t know what to do!
So she ran for help. She got Peter and John to come and help her find the body. But it was no where to be seen.
Peter and John left, but Mary stayed. Jesus was gone, where could he be? Distraught, she began looking for answers. She looked around and saw the gardener. Surely he must know where the body has been taken! So she begs him to tell her all he knows in hopes she can find where they took the body.
“Mary” the gardener says.
And at once she realizes it’s not the gardener… it’s Jesus! He’s alive!
Didn’t he say he would? Didn’t he promise this?
And she remembers. She runs to him and embraces him. She has found what she is looking for, but it’s even greater than she had imagined. Instead of a decaying body she has found Jesus, alive and well!
And Jesus gives Mary a message, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”
The message of victory. Sin and death have no power over Jesus, because he is the Son of God who came to do just these things so that we too can ascend to be with his Father and our Father, his God and our God.
This is the message which fills the holes in our lives. This is the message which gives us meaning, and hope, and joy.
This is the message which reassures us that our sin, our pain, our baggage died on the cross which sets us free to live in and for God.
I ask you again, what are you looking for in your life?
Who are you looking for in your life?
We’re all looking for something. But it’s Jesus who can meet all our needs. He is the one who can heal all our pain. He is the one who can wash away our sins and failures.
He did it for us on Friday. He took all those things away from us.
And this morning he offers us a new life.
New life in the love of God, offered freely for all who follow him.
There is no greater news in all the earth. There is no greater God than our Father in heaven.
And he loves us and wants us to know him, through the new life offered in Jesus Christ his Son.
Just ask for him, and he will make himself known to you. He will whisper your name, and like Mary, you will know him alive and forever more.
Let us pray,
Lord Jesus, today is a beautiful day, the most beautiful day, for you have walked out of the prison of sin and death to show us the victory God has in store for all of us. The victory of being set free from the sin in our lives and living a new life in you.
We thank you Jesus for this life, and we praise you. Help us Lord to know your healing presence in our hearts and give us the meaning and joy we long for.
You desire such great and wonderful things for all God’s children, and yet we somehow don’t see them. Help us to see your great love for us, and bring us into the joy of life you offer.
In rising you give new life to all who follow you. Give us hearts to follow, and let us hear your voice as you call our name.
This we ask in your most Holy Name. Amen and amen.