Sunday, April 16, 2006

Sermon - Easter Sunday - Mark 16:1-8

Easter Sunday
“Just As He Told You”
Mark 16:1-8
April 16th, 2006


Jesus is alive. Death was not the end of him. The dark cloud hanging over Good Friday is dispersed in the bright beams of this morning. Surprised women find a stone rolled away, a dead body missing, and an angelic greeting. “He is not here. He has risen!” Joy of joys, Jesus has conquered death – and oh what that means for us.

In a way, this morning we join those women at the open grave of our Lord. This morning takes us back to that moment. The smell of the lilies reminds us of the garden. The music and decoration help set the joyful mood. But mostly it is the words – these ancient words – this word of God that brings us there. Today we hear the angel’s words and know that still, CHRIST IS RISEN! (HE IS RISEN INDEED) ALLELUIA!

Are we surprised? We shouldn’t be. For this he told us. He would die. He would rise on the third day. And soon his disciples would see him in Galilee. So this Easter, we focus on these words of the angel: “just as he told you”.

“I Told You So” Not usually words we like to hear. “I Told You So” is usually a gloating expression of someone who warned us about something, but we didn’t listen. “See, I Told You So”. It usually means we were foolish, and now we are embarrassed.

Jesus had told them so, on several occasions. Jesus had told his disciples they were going to Jerusalem, that he would be arrested, tried, convicted, killed, and on the third day rise again. Now the angel asked the women at the tomb to carry the “I Told You So” back to the apostles. But there is more here than simple gloating that Jesus was right and they were wrong.

“Just as he told you” shows that Jesus always tells the truth. (He is the Way and the Truth, after all). Even in his most incredible, fantastic, unbelievable claims – Jesus is to be believed, because he tells the truth. He is risen, “Just as he told you”. It happened on the third day, “Just as he told you”. He would meet them in Galilee, “Just as he told you”. In fact everything Jesus had told his disciples would come true. He told them so.

But they doubted and disbelieved. To various degrees, the disciples had a hard time believing what Jesus said. Judas lost faith entirely. Peter denied Jesus temporarily. Thomas doubted it until he saw and touched. The women came that morning expecting to find a dead body. None of them believed perfectly and fully. And neither do we.

But Jesus died for such sinners, and rose to give evidence that he can be trusted, that his word is sure. His disciples would come to believe what he told them, and by his spirit we believe it too – that Christ is risen, Just as he said.

If what he said about his resurrection came true, just as he said, then it only follows that other things he says are true. If his most fantastic claim is proved right, then we should also hear what he says on less miraculous matters. So what does he tell us? What does Jesus say? For it too must be true. Let’s avoid another “I told you so!”

Well, he says a lot. More than I can cover in this sermon. He had three years of public preaching and teaching, much of which was written down (and perhaps even more that wasn’t). Jesus said a lot. So we must summarize.

Jesus summarized. When asked what the most important law was, Jesus said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind. And the second is like it, Love your neighbor as yourself”. Love God and Love neighbor, Jesus tells us. And in this we fail. We fail miserably, we fail often, we fail accidentally and willfully. We don’t love enough or good enough.

But far more than showing our sin, Jesus showed the way out. Far more than reminding of death, Jesus lead the way out. His promises, his gospel, the good news that he brings – this is our faith. That he died for us, that he rose for us. That the promises he made came true. That the promises “still out there” will be fulfilled just as surely.

Easter tells us – that God accepted Jesus’ sacrifice at the cross. That his work was good enough to deal with our sins.
Easter tells us – what we have to look forward to. For as Jesus rose from the dead, we will rise from the dead. He is the first-fruits, the first-born of the dead. Which means there will be others. And so will be fulfilled his promise, “whoever believes in me will live, even though he dies”.

We’re not talking about our spirit simply being with God. Sure that happens when we die – but that’s not the end of our faith! The final, the fullest, the completion of his promises happens when we rise again on the last day, and live forever – incorruptible soul and imperishable BODY - with Jesus our Lord. This is the hope of Easter! This is the promise of Christ. Then too, it will be, “just as he told you”.

So that means, Jesus isn’t the only one with something to tell. The angels spoke the message, and then commissioned the women to “go and tell” the men. The men would be charged to “go and tell” the world. And all of us Christians carry that same message, all of us are to “go and tell”. I don’t mean some canned, corny, pious platitude. But a natural, honest sharing of the hope that is within us. We have good news!

We can tell what he, Jesus, has said, what he has done, and how it is always, “just as he told you”. We can tell by our kindness to others, we can tell by a comforting word when the opportunity arises. We can go and tell as we are able, and also invite others to come and hear more.

To go and tell means you must first come and hear. So don’t neglect the blessing. Be in God’s house. Come to hear his word. Not because you must, but because here we hear good news in this world of bad news. Here we find the truth in a world full of lies. Here is someone reliable in this world of unreliable people. Here we touch his presence in the sacrament of bread and wine that are body and blood. Here, in his presence, according to his promise.

Here, in the message of Jesus, is the only real and lasting hope for struggling through this life of sorrow. For as he says, so it always is, “Just as he told you”.

Mary and the other women went and told what they had heard and seen. We can all do the same. Forgiveness, Life,

For as he has told us, so it is. Just as he said. CHRIST IS RISEN! (HE IS RISEN INDEED!) ALLELUIA! Amen.

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