March 31, 2013 – First Baptist Church Edmonton – Rev. Dr. Ryan Sato
Title: “Remarkable, Ridiculous Resurrection”
Texts: Luke 24:1-12
Thanks be to God for the Women….of that first resurrection morning!
Who knows how long it would have been before the 11 “inner-circle” disciples would have figured out that their friend was alive…that the living Jesus was on the move!
And maybe we shouldn’t be surprised that the women get it. . . for the past 13 weeks we have been in the “Jesus Chapter” of the story of God and one of the big “a-ha” moments that we’ve been grappling with and learning to embrace is that the gospel of Luke was a story written for outsiders…written by an outsider himself, who was recollecting on this mind-blowing reality that Jesus didn’t come to impress and woo the religious professionals and dignitaries, Jesus came for the lost, the least, the last….the outsiders….the misfits, the overlooked, the ignored…..2nd class citizens…ever felt like that?
And that’s why we shouldn’t be surprised that the women are the ones to first “get it” on resurrection morning. They were the 2nd class citizens of first century Jewish culture….and yet it’s interesting to note that while the men had hidden themselves away in some upper room because of fear (we read that in other gospels: ie: John 20:19 ) …it was the women who were making their way to Jesus burial site on the first day of the week.
Imagine being amongst this little flock of women (11 women, let’s say…we have a few who are named: Mary Mag, Joanna, Mary the mother of James) walking the 5 km journey from Jerusalem to the outskirts of the city where Jesus dead body had been lain 3 days earlier…the conversation was probably somber, still deeply sad for the loss of their friend, but trying to comfort each other with memories, words that they had heard from Jesus, conversations that they had been a part of… “Remember when he…” [ie. Martha & Mary sharing about when… or Mary, weeping at Jesus feet in the house of the Pharisee!]
The women come to the tomb and are stunned! The 1000 kg stone has been rolled to the side and they duck into the 1 m x 1 metre entrance into the tomb …Jesus’ body is gone. With shrieks and gasps and gulps they wonder what’s going on…
Joanna turns around and screams “look!”
The other 10 women cast their eyes on 2 angelic beings….Mary Magdalene wonders if this is what Peter was talking about months ago, when he said he saw Elijah & Moses on Mount Tabor… could it be?
The dazzling-in-white-splendor beings speak:
“Why are you seeking among the dead the one who lives? Jesus is not here but has been raised! Remember how he spoke to you while he was still in Galilee: He said, ‘The Son of Man must be handed over into the hand of people who are sinners, be crucified, and on the third day rise.’”
The women look at each other….eyes wide open…sifting through memories of what Jesus had told them… the lights go on! They recall Jesus’ strange and prophetic promises that he had been sharing with his followers over the past 8 months… saying things like:
“Listen carefully to what I am telling you: The Son of Man is going to be delivered over to human hands” (9:44)
“The Son of Man will be mocked, spit upon, flogged, killed…on the third day he will rise again” (Luke 18:32)
“The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, teachers of the law…he must be killed…and on the third day be raised to life” (9:22)
The third day…the third day?!
Mary blurts out to Martha and the others… “Jesus is…alive?!”
And the women run….the 5 km trek back to Jerusalem has never gone so fast …if this was true, their lives would never be the same…the whole world would never be the same!
We will tell the 11 disciples…they’ll know what to do…
They scramble into the city and bustle up the stairway to the upper room where the disciples have been hiding out.
Mary Magdalene pushes at the door…it’s locked!
She batters and the door with her fists…let us in!
James and John shout out…who is it?…what do you want from us!?
Mary cries out….it’s us…let us in!
They burst in through the door and start gushing frantically about how they’ve been at the tomb, the stone was rolled away…they think they saw Elijah and Moses just like you saw them on Mount Tabor…they told us to remember what Jesus had said….about dying, the scribes and Pharisees…that he would rise again…don’t you remember? And now he’s not there…there’s no body, just his grave clothes…It’s true, isn’t it? Just as he promised??? He’s alive…isn’t he? He is risen…isn’t he?
And the men do that stoic reaction thing….the classic, stereotypical response of a bunch of men who have spent too much time in the “mancave” trying to figure out all the things that went wrong, woe is us, what are we going to do with our lives, how can we “fix” this problem – – – kind of “vibe”….
James (one of the sons of thunder!) tries to take command of the room…. “Women…..Calm down! Don’t talk such drivel! Are you out of your minds!????? This is utter nonsense. A wives tale if I’ve ever heard of one! Balderdash!” [B.S. = the greek word “leros”]
He sulks off into a corner of the room. The women are in shock and dismay. Silenced by a supposed “inner circle” member of the disciples.
Thank Yahweh for Peter!
But Peter got up and ran.
He ran and ran and ran to the tomb…exhausted, panting, stooping….looking inside he “saw the linen cloths by themselves.”
Then he went away…AMAZED- – amazed at what had happened.
* * * * *
People of God, Children of God…those of you in this sanctuary today who find yourselves within earshot of the Christian story…
The good news of this first EASTER…and every Easter after for the past 2000 years is that even when we don’t get it… even when we want to live in dead places, or places of prejudice, judgment, indifference and blindness…God is still on the move.
And in the ridiculous and remarkable Christian story, a living Jesus is on the loose. And all of creation and even angelic beings beckon us to remember what Jesus has said…
And perhaps in your Christian memory it’s not necessarily this message of “the Son of Man will die and on the third day be raised again” that comes to mind…but perhaps it’s other hope-filled Jesus promises: “I am with you even until the end of the age” or “do not be afraid” or “your faith has healed you” or “whoever is the least among you is the greatest” or “your sins are forgiven” or “do to others as you would have them do to you.”
Will you pause today to stand AMAZED at the presence of a living Jesus who is on the move? You don’t need to be in the “in” crowd…or even the believing crowd… join us, saints & sinners….a messy crowd of misfits, who on a day like today are at different points of belief and disbelief and yet by faith and hope we believe in a gracious God who is always moving towards us…initiating acts of love and mercy not just through a living story, but through a living Saviour…
I want to close today with a Easter quote from one of the early church fathers John Chrysostom. He was a famous preacher in the 400’s who was known for eloquent preaching…and was even nicknamed the “one with the golden mouth.”
On one early Easter Sunday, he preached these words of celebration/invitation:
Let us all enter into the joy of the Lord!
First and last alike, receive your reward.
Rich and poor, rejoice together!
Conscientious and lazy, celebrate the day!
Partake, all, of the banquet of faith.
Enjoy the bounty of the Lord’s goodness!
Let no one grieve being poor,
for the universal reign has been revealed.
Let no one lament persistent failings,
for forgiveness has risen from the grave.
Let no one fear death,
for the death of our Saviour has set us free.
O death, where is your sting?
O hell, where is your victory?
Christ is risen, and you are cast down!
Christ is risen, and the demons are fallen!
Christ is risen, and the angels rejoice!
Christ is risen, and life is set free!
Christ is risen, and the tomb is emptied of its dead.
* * * * *
Is this ridiculous news? Is this remarkable news?
May God help us take the posture of the women & Peter today – –
“Remembering Jesus’ words” and “Amazed at what has happened.”
I think about our newly baptized friends/family today…Ryan, Zoe, Jake, Heidi, Cassie. You are helping us remember significant moments in our journeys of faith, and we are reminded of the amazing things that God has done in our lives…
And so we will pray the same things for you: that you would remember these living encounters with Jesus that you are experiencing in this season of your lives…and that Jesus would AMAZE you all the days of your lives…
And let’s not just restrict this prayer to the EASTER BAPTISMAL QUINTET.
Look around the room today…let’s pray for one another….that in this 50-day season of Easter we might Remember Jesus’ words/promises to us and stand AMAZED in the wonder of a Saviour who is not bound up…but one who is set free…
To Christ be power and glory forever and ever. Amen!