Cruce Tectum

Cruce tectum, hidden under the cross, a blog for Epiphany Lutheran Church, Dorr, Michigan

Location: Moscow, Idaho

Sunday, April 05, 2015

The Resurrection of Our Lord

The Resurrection of Our Lord: Easter Sunrise

April 5, 2015
Text: John 20:1-18

He is risen! He is risen, indeed!  Alleluia!

            Mary weeps.  Outside the tomb, stooping to look inside, knowing the Lord Jesus is not there, she can no longer control her grief.  So great is her sadness, it does not even startle her that two angels in white are sitting where the Body of Jesus had lain, one at the head, and one at the feet.  Angels rarely go unnoticed when they appear visibly to humans.  The angels ask a question, but it is not as though they don’t know the answer.  They are calling Mary to reflection.  “Woman, why are you weeping?” (John 20:13; ESV).  Why?  “Because my Lord, my Hope, my Joy has died.  He is gone forever.  And now they have taken away His Body, whoever they are.”  Mary’s sadness blinds her.  Her ears are stopped.  Her mind is clouded.  She does not remember the Scriptures or the teaching of Jesus, “that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise” (Luke 24:7).  She cannot see the evidence all around her that the Lord’s Words are true: The empty tomb, the neatly folded grave cloths (grave robbers would never take the time to neatly fold the laundry!), the angels clothed in white!
            Of course, in one respect, her reaction is quite beautiful.  Behold her love and devotion to the Savior.  See how His absence grieves her.  She hangs her whole life on Christ.  Every hope, every dream, every desire, her very existence depends on Him.  And in this she serves as a model for us.  We do well to imitate her love and devotion.  But the fact remains that she is looking for a dead Savior.  And that is why she weeps.  There is a point behind the angels’ question.  Think Mary; think, O Christian: If this grave is empty, why do you weep?
            We weep when graves are full.  We aren’t used to them being empty.  Resurrection is foreign to our experience in this vale of tears.  And so we, like Mary, act as though Christ is not risen, as though His Words promising this very thing could not possibly be true, as though death could rob us of all hope, joy, and salvation.  We act as though the devil won, as though sin and death have not been defeated, as though Jesus Christ does not live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  And we act as though He will not come again to raise us, in our bodies, from the grave, to be with Him forever.  Repent.  Wipe away your tears of sorrow.  Let them be now tears of joy.  Jesus Christ is risen from the dead.  The grave could not hold Him in.  His death has been accepted by the Father as payment for your sin.  You are forgiven.  You have eternal life.  All is not lost.  Not at all.  All is yours, for you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.  Christ is risen.  Jesus lives.
            Mary does not recognize Him at first.  For one thing, He is the last person she expects to see alive.  For another, His Body has been glorified.  He has shed every appearance of lowliness and humiliation, except for the scars that are the trophies of His victory.  He asks her the same searching question as the angels: “Woman, why are you weeping?  Whom are you seeking?” (John 20:15).  Mary thinks He is the gardener.  Maybe He moved the Body.  Still, she does not recognize Him.  Until He speaks her name.  “Mary” (v. 16).  Jesus had said, “I am the good shepherd.  I know my own and my own know me” (10:14).  “(H)e calls his own sheep by name… and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice” (vv. 3-4).  “Mary,” Jesus says, and now she knows Him.  She knows His voice.  She knows Him in His Word.  Her eyes and ears and mind are now open.  So it’s all true!  The Lord is risen, just as He said!  She clings to Him for all she is worth.  But for now she must let go.  Our risen Lord will ascend to our Father in heaven.  He will no longer be with us visibly, as He was in His earthly ministry.  But with us He shall be.  In His Name.  In His Word.  In His Body and Blood.  And now Mary has a job to do.  “Go to my brothers,” Jesus says (10:17).  He calls them brothers, all those who had deserted Him, all those who did not believe.  It is a Holy Absolution.  There are no grudges with Jesus.  All is forgiven, erased by the Blood of Christ.  Go to them, Mary, and tell them all that you have heard and seen.  That is the calling of every Christian.  “Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, ‘I have seen the Lord’—and that he had said these things to her” (v. 18). 

            Mary’s story is your own.  Why do you weep, beloved?  Why your great sorrow?  Do you not know that Christ Jesus is risen from the dead?  Do you not know that that sets right all that is wrong in the world and in your life?  Hell is vanquished.  The serpent’s head is crushed.  Sin is ended.  Death is swallowed up by life.  All that is left is to wait out the “little while” between our Lord’s ascension and His coming again.  Then all the leftover symptoms of the fall; sickness and disease, injury and sadness, brokenness and tribulation, all of that will be done forever.  And God will wipe every tear from your eyes.  Jesus calls you by name in Holy Baptism.  You know His voice.  You recognize Him in His Word.  And so you follow Him to eternal life and joy.  It is not by accident that Mary mistakes Jesus for the gardener.  He is re-planting Eden.  Paradise is restored.  All that is wrong is made right again.  Jesus makes all things new.  He makes you new, too.  Rejoice.  For He is risen!  He is risen, indeed!  Alleluia!  In the Name of the Father, and of the Son (+), and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.         


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