As we gathered this morning, there has been a cloud of darkness that has covered us. The darkness is quite understandable. It is early in the morning. Sunrise today is not scheduled for a few moments yet, so we are just now starting to see some of the first glimpses of the light of a new day.
The darkness that surrounds us, and the glimmer of light shining through, is appropriate this morning. It allows us, I believe, to more fully experience the joy of Easter morning. Today, we gather to announce good news to the entire world. Good news that Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, is not dead! He is alive! Good news that hope has won! Good news that joy is victorious! Good news that darkness has been defeated by light!
However, it was darkness that described how the disciples entered that first Easter morning. It is a darkness that does not just speak of the lack of light, but the darkness of one’s soul and emotional state. Following Jesus’ death, the followers of Christ were in deep despair over what they saw.
Just a few short days earlier, many of Jesus’ disciples experienced what they believed was the tragic end of his ministry. They had witnessed his betrayal from within. They saw his unjust trial that led to a conviction on charges he did not commit, which led to a punishment he did not deserve. They saw him tortured, abused, mocked, and, ultimately, killed on the cross. They thought it was over and they were in pain, because they believed that in Jesus was the One they had been waiting for.
The hours immediately preceding Jesus’ death were the darkest in human history. No one knew what to expect or how to react. They didn’t know what would happen. Would the Roman government and religious leaders come after them? Were they next?
That Sunday morning began as a dark morning, but that didn’t stop their devotion to the Lord. That is especially true for the women who went to the tomb to further prepare Jesus’ body for his burial. John tells us the anointing process began in Bethany, prior to his death, but in the rush to remove Jesus’ body before the start of the Sabbath, the full anointment had likely not been completed. So, the women head to the tomb to finish this task.
John doesn’t focus on all the women, but only Mary Magdalene. She was the first to visit the tomb. She saw that something had happened. The tomb’s stone had been rolled away and Jesus was not there. Mary began to fear that someone had stolen the body. Grave robbing was a common crime in those days. She runs to report the disappearance to Peter and John, who both immediately head off to search the tomb for answers.
All three didn’t know what to expect that morning when they returned to the tomb. In their darkness, we could assume that they figured the worst. Someone had stolen the body and they would have to search for Jesus’ body. When they arrived, Peter and John noticed that the grave clothes were there, tucked away as if no longer needed. They left knowing that something amazing had happened. Mary, however, stayed behind and was able to see it for her own eyes.
What was it that they saw that Easter morning? They saw the Light break into the darkness.
Truly, as the light that is beginning to shine on us this morning, so was it the case that Easter morning so long ago. Mary, Peter, and John were the first to witness that the Light of the World had returned. Jesus is not dead. He is alive!
Today, we gather to celebrate the fact that death could not keep our Lord. Easter is the celebration of what took that gave the world hope. We do not worship a Lord who is dead, but a Lord who is alive! That is hope. We shout with joy of the Good News of the resurrection.
Jesus‘ resurrection is the victory we need. It is the victory over sin. It is the victory over the powers of evil. It is the victory over death. It is the victory over darkness. What the resurrection does is replace all these things with the light of love. It is a light that only comes through the living presence of Christ.
Christ is alive. His light is with us today. That is the good news of the resurrection. No matter what darkness we face, Christ’s light is there. The darkness of our sin is overcome by the light of Christ’s hope. The darkness of death is replaced by the light of everlasting love with the Father, through faith in Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit. The darkness of this world is replaced by the world’s true light.
On this Easter morning, all of us face some kind of darkness in our lives. It could be the darkness of family discord. It could be the darkness of personal struggles. It could be the darkness of not having a relationship with the Lord in a deeply personal way. Whatever darkness we face, the truth of the resurrection is this: Christ’s light has broken through the darkness that this world has over us and gives us an everlasting hope.
Mary, Peter, and John saw the light in their own ways that Easter morning. Peter and John looked in the tomb and saw that Jesus was not there and left knowing that something had happened. Mary saw it for herself. What about us? How will we experience the Light this Easter?
In our darkness, we have gone to the tomb searching for what was. My prayer is that we leave this encounter with the light that is with us, in us, and all around us. That is the living Light that is Christ Jesus.
Darkness did not and will not win. Christ is alive! The Light is here! Glory to God in the highest!