Easter Sunday – Sunday, April 21, 2019

April 21, 2019  

Luke 24:1-11

If they had anointed his body on the night he died, Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women would have been arrested. The Sabbath had begun—they would have been violating religious law that said they were to honor the Sabbath to keep it holy.

And so Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James and the others waited. They waited until the first day of the week, at dawn. At dawn they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared, planning to anoint Jesus’ body.

A huge stone had been rolled in front of the tomb; the Romans wanted to be sure no one would steal Jesus. Roman soldiers stood guard.

This group of women loved Jesus. They were all part of a collection of people who followed Jesus throughout his ministry. Luke called them disciples; they were not the twelve disciples but part of a larger group of followers.
They loved Jesus.
Which is why they went to his tomb to minister to his body. They went to anoint him.

When they arrived they found the stone rolled away. The stone that blocked the opening of the tomb. The stone placed there by the Roman guard.

Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James and the others did not appear to have been startled or surprised by the fact that the stone had been rolled away. Maybe they weren’t aware the stone had been placed there. Maybe they thought it was a convenient coincidence, since they needed to get into the tomb. Whatever it was they thought, Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James and the others went into the tomb.
Where they found no body. Nobody was there.
In first century Jerusalem, it was not common for bodies to be taken from their graves. Jesus’ body had disappeared! Anything might have happened to him.
Luke wrote that the women were “perplexed” (Luke 24:4).

They were “completely baffled” (bing.com definition). They were “puzzled” (bing.com).

I don’t know about you, but if I went to a grave to visit a loved one’s body and the grave was open and the body was gone, I would be a whole lot more than perplexed! “Perplexed” doesn’t begin to describe what my reaction would be.

Then, topping off the women’s perplexity, two men in “dazzling clothes” (Luke 24:4) suddenly appeared beside them. Which terrified the women. Rightly so.

The men asked “Why do you look for the living among the dead?”
Why?
Why?
Because he was not living, he was dead!
That’s not what the women said to the men in dazzling clothes. That’s what I would have said. Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James and the other women were perplexed and terrified and “bowed their faces to the ground” (Luke 24:5).
“He is not here, but has risen” (Luke 24:5).
“Remember how he told you… on the third day he would rise again” (Luke 24:6).

They remembered.
Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James and the other women—they remembered!

He was alive!
Jesus was alive!

Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James and the other women left the tomb and they told the eleven disciples and they told the other disciples: he is alive!

Jesus is alive!

At first the women were not believed.
Then Peter went to the tomb to see for himself and he was amazed.
Later that day Jesus appeared to other followers on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-15). And so it went. Jesus was alive and they all, men and women, loved him.

Jesus is alive and we love him.

We gather because we believe. Jesus is alive! And we love him!
Jesus lived and Jesus lives because God so loved the world that God gave Jesus to the world. The death of Jesus was for the world. The resurrection of Jesus was for the world! The sacrifice and victory of Jesus Christ was and is for the world! And we love him.

Christ is risen.
He is risen indeed. Alleluia!
Amen.