Christ is risen! Christ is risen indeed!

經文:約翰20: 1-18 (Chinese, translated by Ken Sun)

4-24-2011

The Resurrection of Jesus

Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed 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.’ Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went towards the tomb. The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. Then the disciples returned to their homes.

Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene

But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. 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.’ When she had said this, she turned round and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping? For whom are you looking?’ 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.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Mary!’ She turned and said to him in Hebrew, ‘Rabbouni!’ (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, ‘Do not hold on to me, because 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.” ’ Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, ‘I have seen the Lord’; and she told them that he had said these things to her.

Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.

This is the essence of our faith—that Christ died for our sins and then Christ came back to life from the grips of death, proving that he is indeed the son of God. This is the mystery of our faith-- Something that we can’t see, but must believe.

On the morning of Easter Sunday, Mary decided to go visit the tomb of Jesus. She left while it was still dark out. When she got there, she saw that the large stone that had covered the tomb was gone.

Immediately, she knew that someone had gone into the tomb. Imagine what it must have been like to know that someone had been inside a tomb and had taken Jesus’ body. She must have been quite scared and upset, so she ran back to get Peter and John.

Both of them were, of course, caught off guard. They were so upset that they immediately got up from their seats and began running to the tomb. John was faster, so he got there first. He saw that what Mary said was true, but he didn’t go in. Instead, he waited.

Maybe he didn’t want to go in; maybe he was uncertain. Maybe he was scared of what might or might not be inside the tomb. I imagine this was how they’ve felt the last three days leading up to this moment.

For the last three days, the disciples and the community of faith have been living in a shroud of darkness, mourning the loss of our Lord and Savior. It is in this kind of space and atmosphere where our faiths are shaken; where we might start to doubt the truth of the message.

But Peter, well, Peter never wavered. When he had arrived he just booked it right into the empty tomb with no hesitation, running right past John. He saw the linens lying there and a napkin that was on Jesus’ head, rolled up.

It wasn’t as though they saw Jesus, found a note, or had any evidence that Christ had resurrected. No, not at all. They went into the tomb and they believed. It erased all their fears, worries—all the negative feelings that the last three days had brought them.

Faith.

It is about believing from your soul, that which you cannot and may not see. Yet—you still know, by the very fiber of your being, that it is true.

Their faith was blind. Nothing at all in this scene thus far could have proven to them that Christ had come back to life. Nothing in the scene could prove that Christ was the Son of God. But—they didn’t need evidence because they believed.

Are you able to believe when you are in a terrible situation, where we feel sad, or angry, or hurt, or scared and completely alone that is STILL there in the emptiness? When you are in the empty tomb of your life, when you have lost everything or at least feel like it, can you still believe in the Good News?

For those of us who question God when bad things happen—well… there’s Mary.

I suppose it can be argued that Mary that didn’t quite believe like the men. She didn’t leave. She stayed by the tomb, crying. There was nothing that she could do to change the situation here, so she did the only thing that she could do. She grieved.

Maybe we can say that she was not as faithful as the others, but it worked out for her because she became the first person to see Jesus, resurrected. That is an incredible honor.

I read about that passage and I just marvel at the way that God takes care of us. It always seems like there is always a person or many people we know who is just SUCH a good Christian. There’s that person we see and we say, “wow. I wish I could be as faithful a Christian as that person.”

But you know, we see here (and all throughout the Bible), that yes, God does want us to be an example, but God also understands our weaknesses. That is why Jesus died for our sins. Because we do have weakness and God is saying that it is okay. It is OK to be weak and broken. It is OK to not quite believe that the body not being in the tomb is a good thing; to grieve and mourn for our losses, even if it is meant to be.

Christ died so that we CAN be who we are: imperfect and helpless. Though Christ’s death means that we do not have to die, the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ does not mean that we are no longer responsible for our weaknesses and our sins. No, what it does mean is that we are forgiven for our sins. It means that no matter how bad we think about everything that we have done, we know that there is nothing that is so bad that God cannot forgive because God not only died, but God suffered in the process. And with that understanding, we cannot help but live as God wants us to live, because we are so grateful and so indebted to God. This means that we live our lives to the fullest, to live as Jesus taught us to live, to pray as Christ taught us, to take care of others in love.

Today, we remember the sacrifice of Jesus not only because it is Easter, but we celebrate Jesus through communion. During communion, we eat the body of Christ and drink the blood of Christ, which is a physical reminder that even though we do not see Christ as a person, in a body, Christ is never far from us. May you feel rejuvenated by the body and blood of Christ; allowing Jesus to strengthen you, spiritually, mentally, and physically—to be a better person, to be a better son or daughter, to be a better neighbor, and to be who God has created and called you to be, all the while remembering that if you should falter, God is right there with you, today, tomorrow, forever.