We all have stories we love to tell. Stories that have been passed down from generation to generation. Stories of memorable times with our family and friends. Stories where we were able to experience something that changed our life. Stories that must be told again and again.
My guess is that few of us have a story anything like the stories Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome could tell their friends and family. They were among the followers of Jesus who went with him as he traveled throughout Galilee. They saw his miracles of healing and the moments of great teaching that he did. They were there.
More than that, though, this group of women were the first to witness some of the events that have changed the world. They were present at Golgotha when Jesus was crucified. A moment that changed the world as Jesus gave of his life for humanity’s sin. They were present later that Friday afternoon as Joseph of Arimathea and Niccodemus buried Jesus in a tomb located in a garden near where Jesus died.
They saw all of this and they would see more. On a Sunday morning, hours after the Sabbath had ended, this group of women went to the tomb once more. They went with the intent of being with Jesus and to finish anointing his body for burial. They went to be with Jesus one last time, but instead they became witnesses to something much more important. When they arrived at the tomb, they saw that the stone had rolled away and that Jesus was not there. Instead, an angel was sitting in the tomb. He would announce to them and the entire world the Good News that these women first heard: “He is not here. He is risen from the dead.”
In that moment, these women become the first to hear the good news that the Resurrection of Jesus Christ has, in fact, happened. It is the good news we have come to celebrate this morning. This day, this Resurrection Sunday, is the grand celebration of the good news that these women first heard and has been heralded out of the tomb for centuries since. The tomb was found empty. Jesus is not there. He is alive.
Yet, this morning, we interact with this tomb with a sense of wonderment and curiosity about what this news means today. That is why we are here. We want to know what the resurrection means. We want to know what news of the hope the empty tomb can provide in our lives. We want to know why this moment matters and is the life-changing, world-impacting, history-shaping moment that it was then, is today, and will always be.
If you have come with those questions, this morning, I want you to know that it is perfectly acceptable. We are engaging an event that has only happened to one person, Jesus, and has never happened sense. It can be hard to see with our head and heart what took place in the tomb and what these women witnessed. This morning, let us go to the tomb and see why this event matters and what it might mean for us today. As we do, I think we will see that God is inviting us to be like these three women and give witness to Jesus’ resurrection through our life.
Keep in mind that the women were not expecting the resurrection when they arrived at the tomb. Even though Jesus had taught about his resurrection taking place three days after his crucifixion, many assumed he was talking about something that would happen at the end of time and not something that would happen within their own lifetime. Again this is not something that has ever happened, so when Jesus spoke of his resurrection it would have been easy for his disciples and followers to focus on other things.
The empty tomb, though, tells us that Jesus’ words ring true. Not just about his message about the resurrection, but about everything that Jesus said and did. Jesus’ resurrection is the grand announcement to all the world that Jesus is the King, the Lord, and the Messiah of all. The resurrection gives confirmation to everything Jesus did. It gives power to Jesus’ words and authority to his actions.
It is the grand announcement that Jesus did not die in vain. The resurrection proves Jesus’ act on the cross was not a martyr’s death, but the victory over brokenness, sin, and the things that hurt us. Without the resurrection, there would be nothing victorious or meaningful about Jesus’ words or actions on the cross. The resurrection is everything, because it is the hope that gives power to every thing.
The hope of the resurrection is that it allows us to see that Jesus can be trusted as Lord and Savior. If the tomb was found with Jesus still in it, what hope would there be for the world? The message that Jesus is alive is the hope that sin will not win. The message that Jesus is alive is the good news that death will not win. The message that Jesus is alive is the hope that his teaching and miracles were a reflection of the deeper work God is doing through Jesus’ resurrection.
It is for all of these reasons, and especially that last one, that we need the message of the resurrection and the good news that Jesus is alive. Jesus’ resurrection lets us in on something that God is doing through Jesus. God is at work in changing the world and bringing forth a new creation.
The resurrection announces the new work that God is doing in the world. A work of rebuilding what was broken. A work of reestablishing creation into the image that God desires. It is a work God began in the moments following the brokenness that entered when Adam and Even disobeyed God’s love. Through Jesus’ resurrection, God puts that work of recreation into play.
That deeper work is the work of bringing everything back to the Father’s love. God’s deepest desire to take all of our brokenness, all of our hurts, all of our pain, and redeem and recast it. That is what Jesus came to do. He came to show us the way of light through the brokenness in our lives and community. He came to heal us in our times of pain and hurt. He came to redeem the things we do wrong. In its place, God wants to install a new way of life that reflects the life of Christ in each of our hearts.
Truly, God is doing something new through the resurrection. It is the work of bringing making the earth look more and more like heaven as the truth and hope of the resurrection changes the world.
We are invited to be a part of what God is doing through the resurrection. We are all invited to be part of the life-changing, world-impacting, history-shaping moment of the good news that Jesus is not dead and is alive. Each of us have a role to play in making the new creation – of living out Jesus words – a reality in our own corner of the world.
That is what we see by how Mark ends his account of Jesus’ resurrection. The three women were told to go and share the message of Jesus’ resurrection with Peter and the other disciples. They were to be the first proclaimers to others of the good news that Jesus is alive. Mark tells us that they leave the tomb with a sense of awe and wonderment about what they see and then the story ends.
It seems like an awkward way to end the story, but it is really an appropriate ending to Mark’s version of the Resurrection. What Mark is letting us in on is that the story of Jesus’ resurrection is not finished, because we have work to do in telling the world that the tomb is empty, that Jesus cannot be found in a grave, that Jesus is alive and is present in each and every one of our lives. Just like the witnesses who were at the tomb that first Resurrection Day, we are witnesses to our community that Jesus is alive, that he can be trusted, and that his words and power are believable. Those who seek to claim a life in Christ are called – invited – to bet witnesses of the resurrection.
We do this by living out the mission and life of Christ in our community and participating in the new creation God is establishing through the power of the resurrection. To be a witness of the resurrection means to announce through our words, actions, and deeds that Jesus is alive. We do so through our deeds by finding ways to build bridges of hope in our community, especially in places where brokenness seems to reside. We have an opportunity to live out the resurrection’s hope through ways of sharing love in the midst of brokenness. We have the opportunity to speak hope into places of despair and life in places of darkness.
Our actions towards others announces the hope of the Resurrection. It is the story that is told through actions such as giving people a helping hand, providing hope in times of despair, or using the things God has blessed us with to make a difference in the lives of others.
The world and our community are in need of people who believe that the message of the Resurrection is not something that is heard one day of the year. Our world and community needs us to be true witnesses of hope who live out the good news that Jesus Christ is alive every day.
So, let us begin being witnesses of Jesus today and let us start by sharing in this meal of communion together. Communion is the means of grace and transformation that enables us to live out the hope of Christ in our world. As we take the bread and juice, we remember the lengths of Jesus’ love and our transformed by his grace to be witnesses of his hope and power by how we live and share hope with people every day. May this meal be a moment that leads us into new ways of sharing the resurrection with others.
The Resurrection is the moment that changed the world. It is good news to be shared. Good news that was shared with the three women. Good news that has been shared with each of us. Good news that must now be shared as we go out into our community to live out the hope of Jesus’ resurrection by our words, actions, and deeds.