Rev. Paul J Cain
Running to the Tomb
The Resurrection of Our Lord: Easter Dawn, March 2013
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming
In the Name of Jesus. Amen.
[1 Christians, to the Paschal Victim/ Offer your thankful praises! The Lamb the sheep has ransomed: Christ, who only is sinless, Reconciling sinners to the Father. Death and life have contended/ In that combat stupendous: The Prince of life, who died, Reigns immortal.]
What strange battle it is for the Christ of God to defeat death by dying, reconciling sinners to the Father, ransoming us sinful, straying sheep. Easter means that. The death of Christ gives life. The Resurrection means that the dead Son of God now reigns immortal. As I have taught this ancient song, (called a sequence) to both choirs of adults and to children, I have been struck by the lack of a verb in the first line, “Christians, to the Paschal Victim…” Because of the differences between Latin and English, translations do not always fully communicate the nuances of the original.
Should Christians pray to the Passover Victim? Yes. Should Christians sing to the crucified Christ? Yes. Should we run to bear witness about the crucified and risen Lord? Yes! Should we, as Christians, offer thankful praises to Christ Jesus, the Paschal Victim? Indeed. And that is the clearest meaning of the Latin text in English. Should we come running to Jesus to receive the gifts His Resurrection brings us? Certainly. And so will the disciples once they hear the news from Mary Magdalene, although they were running out of disbelief instead of faith.
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. 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.
They did not yet understand. They had been told the truth, that Jesus rose from the dead, but they did not yet have faith. Mary knew of the empty tomb and ran to tell the disciples. They ran back to the empty tomb. The disciples saw and believed only that the tomb was empty. And they went home. Mary didn’t.
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.” 14 Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 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). 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.
Mary was weeping out of grief, confusion, and does not yet know all that was in store for her. After Jesus’ appearance to her, she announces the Resurrection to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord,” and not merely the truth of an empty tomb.
Easter Sunday is more than a day to dress up in our Sunday finest, have a special meal, and celebrate an empty tomb. We rejoice in a risen Lord. We rejoice in a Risen Lord who will raise us from the dead on the Last Day. We celebrate a life-giving Lord that delivers new lives, new hope, forgiveness of sins, a fresh start, lives with meaning because of Jesus’ sacrificial death and victorious resurrection.
About the Cover: The Lord is Risen indeed. He is Jesus, our Savior and King! He walked the earth [and knows] what it’s like to be human. He suffered the pain of death on a cross to set us free. He rose from death to bring us everlasting life. He gave us the Holy Spirit so we would never walk alone.
Each Sunday is another opportunity to receive Christ’s Easter gifts. We Christians worship on Sunday not because it is a day of obligation, like a New Testament version of the Jewish Sabbath, but because it is the first day of the week, the day of the Resurrection of Our Lord. Sunday is also the day the Lord began Creation. And we remember the pouring out of the Holy Spirit on a Sunday, the first Christian Pentecost. The Lord has good gifts for you in Christ Jesus at Immanuel Lutheran Church. Alleluia! Amen.
In the Name of Jesus. Amen.