Easter Sunrise 2013
Are you a morning person? I'm the kind of person everyone hates at 6 am. All happy and excited. A cup of coffee and a banana and I'm ready to go. I suppose the people in my family at 6 am wish I would just go away.
This morning we hear of several women who went at early dawn to a cemetery. Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary the mother of James. They brought spices to take care of a dead body. Imagine their surprise when they found the tomb open, stone rolled. Two angels appeared out of nowhere. Their clothing shined like the sun itself. Morning people from another world.
I know an organist who had to get his family up early for Easter Church. He yelled up the stairs to his daughter to get her out of bed, "Christ is Risen!" She yelled back, "Why do you seek the living among the dead?"
This message of these alien visitors was shocking as well. "This is a cemetery. Why do you seek the living among the dead?" I don't expect to go to a cemetery to see people who are alive, just reminders of those who have died. Headstones and monuments. Sometimes the earth of a fresh grave. "What is this nonsense? Jesus alive? It can't be! We saw what they did to him. We saw him die!"
"He is not here. He has risen from the dead?" Can it be? How can someone rise from the dead again? We've heard of near death experiences. Someone has no heartbeat for ten minutes, maybe twenty in extreme cases. But thirty six hours? It can't be!
The angels reminded them, as they remind us today, that Jesus had spoken about this many times. Remember back in Galilee how he said he had to be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and rise from the dead on the third day? Then the women remembered.
Do we remember? God has said many things in the Bible. He has told us not to worry about material things. He will provide.
He said that he has overcome the world. Do we believe it?
He said that the church shall stand, and that the very gates of hell shall not overcome it. Do we stand with the church, the people gathered around God's word? Or do we scatter because we are afraid?
Remember what He said. That's we are to be about! That word has the power to give us power for living in any situation now, and the power to live with him forever in a much better place. No matter what your situation, the truth about who Jesus is and what he has done for you in his death and resurrection gives you hope for the future.
The women remembered his words. They went and told the eleven disciples. What kind of reception do you think they received? "Yeah, right. Jesus is alive again. You look delirious. Are you feeling well?"
Some people think the story of the resurrection was just made up to keep the Jesus movement going. If he had died, no one would remember the things he said. But if they thought he rose from the dead, they would keep believing in him. So the theory goes.
There is internal evidence to believe the Bible is telling the truth. If the male disciples, who wrote the New Testament, made up the story, they would have made themselves look better in our eyes. People do that when they make up stories to pass off as the truth. For instance, If Peter or John made this up, it would sound like this.
We saw Jesus die on the cross, but we knew he would rise again, just like he said. So we got up early, went down to the tomb, and waited. Then we saw the stone rolled away by an angel, and Jesus came out alive! We said, "Lord, we knew you could do it." The women were all crying and wouldn't believe that we saw Jesus alive, but we told them how right we were. They should believe too.
But this is not how it is written. The disciples who wrote the story are the dummies. The women are the believers. The men don't believe the women. They don't believe until Jesus actually comes to them and shows them the wounds on his body. They are not the heroes. The women are. How humiliating for them. That's how you know it's a true story.
Luke does say that Peter ran to the tomb. He went in, and saw the burial cloths. But he just goes home in wonder. He doesn't quite get it yet.
What about you? Do you get it? Are you a morning person? Not someone who is crying. Not that kind of morning. But people who get up today happy because it's time to celebrate the greatest miracle the world has ever known! God has reversed the curse of death. Jesus is the firstborn of the dead. Because he had the power to raise himself, it shows he has the power to do anything. He is God, and he has done what only God can do, take the sins of the world away. He claims us as his people. He restores us to God.
Because we are morning people, we look for the dawn of a new day. Life is good. And one day soon Jesus will be coming back here. He will reach down and open up the earth where we are buried. Cemeteries will come alive. No longer will they be full of dead people. They will be the place of life. The dead will come alive, remade to live forever.
All of this will happen because on a Sunday like this two thousand years ago, Jesus some morning people went to see a dead body, and came back with surprising news. We have that good news today.
Alleluia Christ is Risen! He is risen indeed. Alleluia.
Copyright © 1998-2011 James F. Wright. All rights reserved.
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