Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Sermon for 24 April 2011, The Resurrection of Our Lord: Easter Dawn

The Rev. Paul J Cain
John 20:1-18
“I Have Seen the Lord”
The Resurrection of Our Lord: Easter Dawn, 24 April 2011
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, WY

Oh sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth! Sing to the Lord, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day. [Amen.]
 Psalm 96:1-2 ESV.

This day of Resurrection, we sing a new song of salvation in Christ. The old is new again. 
Enoch walked with God. And then God took him. Enoch didn’t die. He was taken to heaven alive. Elijah was taken to heaven in a chariot of fire. He didn’t die either. He, too was taken to heaven alive. That is rare.
Death curses us as a consequence of sin. Even rarer were resurrections in Scripture. A widow in Zarephath lost her only son. Elijah raised him. And then comes Jesus. Resurrection is no longer so rare. The fruits of Resurrection Day on the Last Day begin breaking through into time. Jesus resurrected three people before His own Resurrection: Jairus’ daughter, a widow’s son, and Lazarus.
Resurrection is not reincarnation. It doesn’t mean merely a spiritual change of some sort. There are physical consequences! Dead tissue is reanimated, brought back to life and God’s intention. Jesus was physically resurrected and His own body glorified. He still bears his crucifixion scars, those by which He makes possible your own resurrection on the Last Day.

 Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb.
Imagine Mary’s shock. There are no guards. The massive stone has been moved. The tomb is empty. What is Mary to think?
 2 So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” 3 So Peter went out with the other disciple, and they were going toward the tomb. 4 Both of them were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5 And stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in. 6 Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen cloths lying there, 7 and the face cloth, which had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen cloths but folded up in a place by itself. 8 Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; 9 for as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that he must rise from the dead. 10 Then the disciples went back to their homes.
John outran Peter to the tomb. He saw and believed. Believed what? At this point, John believes that the tomb is empty. That’s it. John believes that Mary Magdalene was telling the truth. Mary, Peter, and John do not yet believe that Jesus has been raised according to the prophecies and promise of Scripture. John and Peter went home.

11 But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb. 12 And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. 13 They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.”
Angels show up and Mary matter-of-factly announces the same thing she said to Peter and John. She is singing the same old song of sin and death and sadness.
14 Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus.
Jesus has been raised. And there is something about His resurrected body that is different. This is more than seeing a pastor or a policeman out of uniform and in civilian clothes. This is different than seeing your teacher out-of-context at the grocery store. Jesus will appear to two walking to Emmaus and to seven of His own disciples by the Sea of Tiberius for breakfast, and they don’t immediately recognize Him either.
 15 Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” 16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher).
Click. Everything makes sense. You can see the lightbulb over her head. By faith, heart and head and soul are finally on the same page. This. Is. Jesus. Teacher! It’s You! Alive! Tears dry. Confusion disappears. Sadness and mourning evaporate on Easter morn. Her song is faith reborn and renewed because of Jesus’ Resurrection.
17 Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ ” 18 Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”—and that he had said these things to her. [1]
Jesus prepares the way for His own disciples to believe and join Him in Galilee for Him to commission them to make more disciples of all nations by means of baptizing and teaching. First, Mary goes back to the eleven. Her new song is faith saying: “I have seen the Lord.” “I have seen the Lord Jesus raised from the dead just as He said it would happen.”
And the disciples would believe. News of the Resurrection would reach the people who shouted “Hosanna,” all who cried out “Crucify Him!” and even the one who declared Jesus to be “King of the Jews.” From Jerusalem, the Gospel would spread to all Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth, even to us.

1 Corinthians 15:20 says, “But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.” At Jesus death, the curtain of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split. The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep went into the holy city and were seen by many. First Corinthians 15 continues: “For as by a man came death, [Adam,] by a man [Jesus,] has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at His coming those who belong to Christ.”
The use of the word “firstfruits” means that there are more fruits to come. In the book of Acts, Dorcas was raised by Peter and Eutychus was later raised by Paul. And you, also will be raised. All will be raised on the Last Day, to be sure. But you, His Christians, those He has forgiven and enlivened, you who fear, love, and trust in Him above all things, you who have been washed in the blood of the Lamb and partake of His Body and Blood, will be raised to life everlasting in the new heaven and new earth.
Alleluia. Christ is risen!
He is risen indeed. Alleluia!
Because Christ has been raised from the dead, you will be raised. This is our new song in Christ. Amen.
Oh sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous things! His right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him.       The Lord has made known his salvation; he has revealed his righteousness in the sight of the nations. [Amen.]
Psalm 98:1-2 ESV

[1] The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001 (Jn 20:1–18). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.