Sunday, April 4, 2010

I Have Seen the Lord (John 20.1-18)

April 4, 2010 – Easter Sunrise Service
Sermon by: Robert Austell

No audio available

For weeks now we have been talking about sin – about the human condition and our need for God’s miraculous intervention.

God accomplished significant things on the cross: namely, our reconciliation with Him through the forgiveness of sin. Yet until the Resurrection, the disciples and women who followed Jesus could not have known this apart from Holy Spirit theological insight. And as verse 9 relates, that understanding simply hadn’t been provided yet.

So Mary Magdalene came to the tomb to visit the body, expecting to honor her Lord and friend who had been executed. Shock and distress superimposed over sorrow when she saw the stone rolled away and the body gone. As she told Simon and John, “They have taken the body and we don’t know where!”

After returning to the tomb, she encounters two angels who ask her, “Why are you weeping?” She answers them in the same way, “They have taken the body and we don’t know where.”

A bit later, Jesus himself sees Mary and asks again, “Why are you weeping?” She pleads with him to tell her where the body has been taken.

At least three times Mary is presented with some evidence that Jesus is no longer dead. But she clings to her sorrow and loss and misses the truth and hope of an Easter that has already happened.

Finally, Jesus calls her by name, “Mary!” And… she recognizes him. Even then, she could have attributed the encounter to hysteria, a vision, wishful thinking, or a hallucination. He tells her to carry the news. She chooses to believe and to hope, and goes from there, the first with the Gospel, the Good News, “I have seen the Lord!”

For weeks now we have been talking about sin – about the human condition and our need for God’s miraculous intervention. When we do face our needs and don’t live in denial or distraction… when we face our disappointment and sorrow and shame, it is easy to lose sight of God. We may go to the house of God, but not see the Lord. We may spend time around the people of God, but not see the Lord. We may hear the very words of God, but not see the Lord.

The power of Easter – the power of a risen Christ – is of a God who isn’t absent, isn’t uninterested, isn’t powerless; rather, it is the power of a God who cares deeply and who has acted and who knows you intimately enough to call your name, “Mary.” Even then, we can chalk it up to any number of things. But our very hope and faith is there in our response to this Easter news of a risen Savior, “I HAVE seen the Lord.”

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