Sermon for Easter Day
|Text: John 20:18
Mary Magdalene found the disciples and told them, "I have seen the Lord!"
It was time for the kids talk on Easter morning. One little boy was so excited about Easter that he couldn’t hold back and before the pastor could start his talk, loudly said, “Do you know what the first words Jesus said when he came out of the tomb on Easter morning?”
The pastor looked at the boy and could see the seriousness on his face. Quickly the pastor went through the four gospels in his head trying to remember what the first words Jesus said on Easter morning. Not wanting to confuse the children with the different reports of the four gospels, he asked the children. There were various suggestions but finally the pastor asked the boy, “So what were Jesus’ first words on Easter morning”. The boy got to his feet and said with the broadest grin, he loudly said, “Ta-da” (with his arms wide apart and leaning back).
Easter morning was certainly a “ta-da” moment. No-one expected it.
The disciples and Jesus’ friends had placed in the tomb the stone-cold body of Jesus. He was as dead as anyone could be. The cruel treatment by the authorities and then the hours he had spent on the cross had drained the life from him. They rolled a stone across the door of the tomb thinking that this was the end of Jesus. He would never walk with them again. When you’re dead you're dead. That first Easter the disciples were as glum as you could get. Jesus was gone. There was no future. Whatever future they had planned around Jesus and everything he had said about love and the Kingdom of God, well, all that was now as dead as Jesus himself.
Now if I were Jesus on Easter morning I’d
be tempted to do a “Ta-da! Look! I’m alive!” just to show the disciples that
they had got it all wrong about who I was and what I had come to do.
If I were Jesus I would do a “Ta-da! Hey, I’m alive!” because they really hadn’t been listening carefully when I spoke about my death and that I would rise again after three days nor had they taken any notice that I had authority over death when I raised Lazarus and others from the dead;
I would do a “Ta-da!” to emphasise that they hadn’t taken seriously my words, “I am the Resurrection and the Life” and that I was sent to prepare the way so that all who believe can be in my Father’s house with eternal life and freedom from death.
But Jesus was far more sensitive than to walk into a locked room where the disciples were hiding from the authorities or walk up behind Mary and say loudly, “Ta-da” just to get a reaction because he knew that would scare the living daylights out of them. The last thing they expected to see was a dead man walking and talking and eating with them. And so more appropriately Jesus says quietly, “Peace be with you. Don’t be afraid”.
Even though the expression “Ta-da” isn’t in the Easter story, nevertheless, it does express something of the excitement, importance, and joy of Easter.
“Ta-da” is an onomatopoeia – in other words, it’s a word that imitates a sound. “Ta-da” is a fanfare – fanfares are usually performed by musical instruments to highlight an important occasion or event. When there is a royal wedding, a fanfare of trumpets and pipe organ precede the arrival of the bride. I've been to graduation ceremonies where a fanfare welcomes the graduates. We are told that a trumpet fanfare will herald Jesus' second coming.
Listen to this “ta-da” moment that Paul describes, “We shall not all die, but when the last trumpet sounds, we shall all be changed in an instant, as quickly as the blinking of an eye. For when the trumpet sounds, the dead will be raised, never to die again, and we shall all be changed” (1 Cor 15:52-53). This will be a fanfare that will resound around the world, a “ta-da” that will herald Christ’s return and resurrection of the dead. Things will never be the same again. The new thing that Christ has begun will be complete.
What a “ta-da” moment that will be. Whether we are the ones being raised from the dead or we are living on the earth, this will be a glorious moment that was started with Christ’s own resurrection.
Over the centuries people have greeted one another with the words, “Christ is risen” and responded, “He is risen indeed” as they gather on Easter morning. Because we say it often it can lose that exciting edge.
Maybe we should adopt the enthusiasm of the little boy at the kids talk and add a fanfare. “Ta-da! Jesus is alive!” This is the greatest moment in history. That’s not denying that the birth of God in Bethlehem to a virgin at Christmas and the death of God’s Son on a cross in Jerusalem on Good Friday were not great moments, but the resurrection at Easter is the culmination and finale of the great plan of salvation that God had put into motion through the birth, life, suffering and death of Jesus.
“Ta-da” God has
taken away sin's power to condemn us.
“Ta-da” he has freed us from death and its power over us.
“Ta-da” God has given us new life, eternal life, a new home and a new body in heaven.
Paul says, “Death is destroyed; victory is complete! … Thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!”
The key to understanding the joy of the women as they ran back to the disciples shouting, “He’s alive! He’s alive” and Paul’s victory shout, “Death is destroyed” is that hope is real. In the face of death, the tears are real, the sadness is real, the separation and brokenness are real but none of these have the last word.
Hope is certain and sure that death’s power has been defeated. Jesus’ own resurrection has shown that his sacrifice on the cross has wiped away our guilt and replaced it with his own righteousness. We are God’s new people made clean and ready by the death of Jesus to enter eternal life.
Hope comforts us as we stand at the grave of our loved ones telling us that this is not the end but the beginning of something wonderful and new for that person. Jesus has made sure of that!
When we face our dying day, hope tells us that we shall pass from this life into eternal life and be raised with a glorious new life and new body. Jesus has made sure of that!
There is human hope. Let’s say you get a shopping trolley like the kind at the supermarket and you fill it will all the kinds of things that you are successfully achieving now and want to achieve in the future. For some it will include the busyness of raising a family, working to get ahead financially, seeking careers, getting ahead, taking courses, planning trips, enjoying grandchildren – I think you get the picture. As you go along through life you fill your shopping trolley with all kinds of successes, assets, qualifications, comforts, and security. This is your hope for happy and comfortable life.
But as we all know, this kind of hope is a very fragile thing. It takes just a small upset, a financial set back, a lost job, an illness or accident and those hopes just vaporise in an instant. And of course, if death should come, whether it comes to us or a member of our family, it cuts all these hopes and dreams short.
Take the two men walking down the road to Emmaus. Two confused, dejected, sad men. They had been followers of Jesus. They had seen his power; they had great hopes that this man was the one who had been promised by God but their hope had evaporated. Death had done its worst. They saw only gloom and sadness.
But what a difference it made when they realised that the man walking with them was the risen Jesus. What had changed them? Hope. The fire of hope was rekindled in their hearts. It was a “Ta-da” moment for them. Jesus was alive. There were new and great things to come in the future.
God is a great giver of hope and Jesus' resurrection gives us an even greater hope. These three days of Easter we see the full range of human emotion – tears, fear, anger, guilt, despair, hopelessness, remorse, and then comes the resurrection of Jesus and hope and everything changes. With hope there comes joy, celebration, excitement, understanding, faith and renewal and these are deepened as the reality and the meaning of resurrection sink in.
In our darkest moment in life’s journey,
hope reminds us that with Jesus there is always a future, if not in this life,
then in heaven.
Hope reminds us that Jesus is our living Lord who is committed to walking with us and helping us to endure all things right now.
Hope assures us that nothing can separate us from Jesus’ love – nothing in all creation and beyond.
Hope comforts us with the knowledge that we can be contented and at peace even when things threaten us and our safety.
We have a living Lord who is very real and
very active in the happenings of every day.
We have a living Lord to whom we can pour out our hearts and when we have complained and questioned God about our hurts and fears and doubts, we can then listen to his promises that give us hope and faith in the living Lord.
There is only one thing that remains to be said today,
There is only one thing that remains to be said today,
© Pastor Vince Gerhardy
20th April 2014