Easter Sunrise Sermon: He is Not Here!

The three women had an idea of what to expect early that Sunday morning. What they experienced was another matter all together.

Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome – the three women whom Mark said witnessed Jesus’ crucifixion – were on their way to the tomb to anoint Jesus’ body. Even though Jesus had already been anointed at Bethany, these three women wanted to do one last act of devotion and love to Jesus. They wanted one last opportunity to care for the man who had cared so much for them and his other followers.

It is a loving act that these three women came to Jesus’ tomb to perform. Keep in mind that on Friday – three days by the Jewish way of keeping time – they witnessed Jesus’ betrayal and his violent and brutal death on the cross. We can excuse the fact that the prophecies about Jesus’ death were the furthest from their mind. These were words that Jesus spoke. He said that on the third day, he would be resurrected. For the women, this was the furthest from their mind. They were focused on the obstacle that was ahead of them. How would they be able to roll away the heavy stone that was placed in front of Jesus’ tomb? They were in mourning and, perhaps, doubted what Jesus said about his resurrection would happen.

What they knew was this: their Master, their Friend, their Teacher, and their Lord was dead. On this first day after the Sabbath, these women wanted to care for him in the only way they knew how – by giving of themselves.

You can imagine their surprise when they arrived at the tomb – the same tomb Joseph of Arimathea had used to bury Jesus on Friday – and saw that the stone had been rolled away. This is not what they expected to see. They expected things to be as they were on Friday, but what they witnessed on Sunday morning was the furthest from their expectations. They didn’t expect to see an empty tomb! They expected to see Jesus in his burial clothes and, yet, Jesus wsa not there!

The three women were still focused on Friday. When they saw the tomb was empty, it wasn’t an immediate confirmation that Jesus was risen from the dead. Their first reaction was one of fear. Where did they take Jesus? The women assumed that someone had come to the tomb and taken Jesus’ body overnight.

It wasn’t until they saw the angelic messenger that they realized the reality of Friday afternoon had been eclipsed by a new reality of Sunday morning. The messenger stood before the women and proclaimed: “He is not here! He is risen!” Sunday has come! A new reality has taken place. Jesus is resurrected. The prophecy of his death and resurrection was true.

These three giving, loving, and compassionate women who had decided to set out to care for Jesus would be the first to learn the most important news ever delivered in human history. They were the first to realize that Friday was not the end of the story. Sunday is the new beginning. Our story does not end at the cross, but it begins with Jesus’ resurrection. This is not a resuscitation of life. It is much deeper. On that Easter Day, Jesus’ resurrection secured the victory over humanity’s sin and death itself.

As we gather for our Easter celebration, it is because Jesus is alive that we celebrate today. Betrayal could not keep Jesus from fulfilling the Father’s mission for him. Death could not prevent Jesus from being the Messiah who redeemed humanity and inaugurated the kingdom of God. Hope is alive. Jesus is alive.

Easter is important. The resurrection is crucial. Without the resurrection, there is no hope. There is no potential for faith. There would have been no power and life-changing meaning behind Jesus’ words. Without the resurrection, there would be no reason for us to be here today or any day. Jesus’ teachings and life would have just been simply inspirational ideas on how to live a better life, but would be void of power and hope. Even more, Jesus’ death would have been in vain.

But the tomb is empty. Jesus is not here! He is risen! Sunday morning came!

It was a new reality that came on that Sunday morning. We cannot remain a people of Friday afternoon, who cry out “They killed my Lord!” We are a people who shout with loud Hosannahs “My Savior lives!”

This is a powerful new reality. By this very act, all who would believe that Jesus lives and secured the forgiveness of sin is given the greatest gift, through faith, of a relationship with the Heavenly Father through the Holy Spirit. Today, we can place our hope in the fact that Jesus did secure the forgiveness of humanity’s sin, because he lives today and sits at the Father’s right hand. Sin and death have no power over us anymore.

A new hope came on Sunday morning. It is a hope that is still powerful and beautiful. A hope that is still relevant in a world that believes that faith is not something worth having. We know that is not the case, because our Savior lives!

Today, we are not a people of Friday. Just like the three women who were the first to witness the tomb being empty, we are people of Sunday morning. We worship today in anticipation that something happened on that day, something beautiful and powerful, and it is as life changing then as it is today.

Let us shout with loud Hosannahs that Sunday came! The tomb is empty! Jesus was not found there. He is Risen! Glory be to God!

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