April 20, 2014
They were running side by side, but then the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. – John 20: 4
There is a story about a crotchety old man who lived with his wife in the backwoods. One day the old mountaineer fell & struck his head against a rock. When his wife found him, he appeared to be quite dead. This was before morticians ventured into those hills, so there was no embalming. The widow merely summoned a few neighbors to help her dress the body, put it in a plain box & take it to the place of burial. As the four neighbors carried him from the house, one of them stumbled, causing the coffin to crash into a gatepost. This somehow revived the old man. He knocked the cover off the coffin, screamed at everyone & raised a terrible fuss. A year later, the old man fell sick & died again. Once more the body was placed in the box; & as the pall bearers hoisted their burden & began moving from the house, the widow said firmly, “Watch out for that gate post!”
One resurrection was enough for her, just as it was for Peter & the other apostles, & it should be for us. In expressing our resurrection faith, we are not just expressing our views but spreading the news: the good news of a God who transforms defeat into victory, despair into hope, sorrow into joy, death into life. This good news transformed a little band of frightened disciples into flaming evangelists. It was not just the awesome miracle that inspired them – it was the realization that through this miracle God had revealed to them, as never before, who He is.
The mood in our Gospel reading is one of urgency. Mary Magdalene didn’t even wait for daybreak, but hurried to the tomb while it was still dark. Discovering it empty, she ran to where Peter & John were hiding, & they in turn ran. They desperately had to know what had happened to Jesus; & when they learned the truth, it made all the difference in their lives.
Most of us didn’t come running here today, but we still desperately need to know what is happening now as a result of the resurrection. Do we KNOW that our redeemer lives? Can we sing it so that all who hear us may feel the pains & joy of it?
The risen Christ’s words of peace are meant for us now, & His tone is urgent. If we truly know that our redeemer lives, we must act upon it so that all who observe us may feel the power of Him who teaches that to love as He does is to live. The New Testament Christians did not say in dismay, “Look what the world has come to!” Rather, they said in delight, “Look what has come into the world!”
Easter is not only something that happened then, but something that happens now. Unless it is happening now, we’ve missed the point of our celebration. Just as God acted then to confirm the life & ministry of Jesus, He does so now to confirm ours. What happened in time transcends time & gives new life, new hope, new expectation to every generation of those who believe – whatever our present source of hurt.
Despite the din & clamor of disbelief in our time, we still hear the calm, confident, reassuring, loving voice of Jesus inviting us into the mystery of faith. “Do you love me?” our Lord asks again & again. If so, “Feed my lambs, feed my sheep.” The mystery of faith is perfected in love. Jesus invites us to perfect our faith by touching His wounds which lay open before us in the persons of His brothers & sisters. “Blest are they who have not seen & have believed.”
There are people everywhere desperately searching for something better in life. WE know that their redeemer lives. The question is, will they see Him living in us? The answer is, “Not until we see Him living in them!” In the words of an old hymn, “I know that my redeemer lives; what joy the blest assurance gives. He lives & grants me daily breath; He lives & I shall conquer death. He lives my hungry soul to feed; He lives to help in time of need. What joy the blest assurance gives; I know that my redeemer lives!” AMEN!