After the Sabbath, at dawn, on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightening, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.
The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go and tell the disciples. ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”
So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell the disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshipped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, there they will see me.”
* The angel came down from heaven, just as Jesus came down for us.
Many people earn a living as lookalikes of famous people. They act the part, but we are only fooled for a moment. When we look closer we can see they are not the real thing. But Jesus was a real human being.
* The angel rolled back to stone, and Jesus rose from the dead for us.
If you could travel back to any point in history, you could be an eyewitness and see what really happened. The angel showed them that Jesus had already risen when the tomb was opened.
* The angel sat on the stone. His work was done, just as Jesus finished the work and won the victory for us.
After the battle of Waterloo the news was carried to the fleet, and as they neared England they hoisted signal flags to relay the message. ‘Wellington defeated…’ Then the fog rolled in and they could not read the rest of the message. There was great despair and fear at the thought that Napoleon might be on his way to defeat England. Then the fog cleared and despair turned to rejoicing as the full message could be seen ‘Wellington defeated Napoleon.’ Our despair turns to joy because Jesus won the victory.
* The angel’s appearance was like lightening and his clothes white as snow. At the transfiguration, Jesus showed his true glory in the same way – the glory of God.
The guards were struck down with fear, and Jesus fights for us. He is our advocate in the fight we cannot win alone.
Easter Sunday truly is the greatest day in history.
Us and Jesus
We can respond to Jesus in one of three ways.
* We can try to push Jesus into the past, to say he is not relevant to today. But he is risen and meets us today.
* We can be like the guards, try to seal Jesus in, restrict him. The trappings of religion often do this. But Jesus as the risen Lord wants to have a relationship with us.
* We can meet Jesus, as the women did, and bow down and worship him. We cannot visit events in history, and we cannot change our own history. But Jesus can forgive us and give us a new start.
[Based on an Easter Sunday sermon by Pastor Pete Orphan]
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