Easter Sunday Sermon
Fr. Scott Green
April 17. 2022
For as yet they knew not the scripture, that he must rise again from the dead.
In the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Christians, on this side of Easter Sunday, seem to not have much sympathy for the plight the disciples were in just a few hours before dawn. Since Friday around 3 p.m. their whole worlds were shattered, their Lord and Master had been defeated and Satan had seemingly won out over their Messiah.
Think about mental state of the disciples. Their promised messiah, whom they had given the last 3 years of their life to, had been killed, without warning, without a goodbye, without instructions. Their dreams of a united free Israel had come to a sudden, harsh, devastating ending, the Romans were victorious again, even through the efforts of Jewish elites no less, their own people working with the oppressive foreigners.
How far was all this going to go? Were they next? Where do they go from here? Do they just return home and hope everyone forgets where they had been the last 3 years? How do we move on from this, can we move on from this?
They had been so wrong, never in their wildest dreams did they expect their Lord to be killed, and to be killed in the way that He was, they shiver just thinking about it. Our Lord’s mother had come back from Golgotha and explained to the disciples how her Son had died, John also told them of the final moments of their Master and what He had said before He finally succumbed to death.
Think about the guilt they all must have felt? Think about them trying to rationalize their cowardice. They must have thought “even if we would have been there, it wouldn’t have changed anything. None of us could have stopped that bloodbath” but deep down they knew they should have been there like John.
Since He died, everything was happening in slow motion, their minds and hearts had not caught up to what they experienced on Friday.
The day after their Master died was the sabbath, this sabbath though, was unlike any other sabbath they had ever experienced. They had nothing to celebrate, no prayers to pray. All they could muster was to hold back fits of tears, hugging each other when they broke down, murmuring promises that everything will be alright somehow. None of them knew what to do next. They were in mental, emotional, and spiritual darkness.
I cannot overstate the despair of the followers of our Lord. They completely did not understand at the time what was going on. It was only high sight and the illumination of the Holy Spirit that they were able to piece together what happened and why it had to happen.
They were living play by play and did not have the benefit we do of knowing the whole story. We have been given the opportunity to experience this revelation with them through our Gospel reading.
Let’s put ourselves in the shoes of the disciples on this first Easter morning. We get a shortened version of Mary Magdalene story this morning, last night during the Vigil, we got a fuller picture of her story. How she was first at the tomb purely because of her love of their fallen Lord. Now knowing what to do with themselves, Mary Magdalene chose to at least, at the very least do one last thing for her Lord as one final act of kindness for all the He had done for her, she would take care of her Master’s remains.
Upon arriving at the tomb, St. Matthew tells us, that she saw an Angel which explained that Jesus Christ was not there but had risen, she was tasked with telling the others. This is why Mary Magdalene is affectionately known as the Apostle to the Apostles as she was the bearer of the Good News to the Apostles themselves.
Can you imagine her running back, thoughts racing through her head about what all this could mean? She burst through the door to where the disciples were, they probably thought the door bursting open was guards breaking in to their room to take them to be killed, yet instead of Temple Guards or Roman Soldiers, it was Mary Magdalene back sooner then they thought. Through gasping breaths, hunched over trying to breath, she gets out one sentence “they have taken away the Lord out of the sepulcher, and we know not where they have laid him.”
St. Peter and St. John, who is known as the other disciple in his own Gospel, sprinted off toward where their Lord had been laid to rest. John, being quite a bit younger than Peter, beat Peter to the tomb though he let Peter be the first one to enter out of respect, though that didn’t stop him from letting everyone know he was first.
Think about the different motivations for these two men in racing to the tomb. John, who had saw with his own eyes, the death of our Lord, who was there to the bitter end, knew that something supernatural had to be happening, ever the faithful disciple. It is said that when John saw the empty tomb, he believed at that moment.
Peter, on the other hand, had completely different motives. Remember what happened to Peter on Good Friday morning. He had promised to stick with Jesus through everything and that he would never leave His side. Peter failed this mission and did not even make it to dawn before denying his Master three different times, then running away to hide. Guilt seeking redemption was Peter’s motivation.
The fact of the Resurrection is the foundational mystery of our whole faith. It is the cornerstone of everything we believe. Central to every other doctrine we hold dear. Without today and its revelation that Christ is Risen, none of this would matter.
Not only did God come down from heaven to become man, not only was Jesus a great teacher and miracle worker, not only did He take the sins of the world to the Cross, dying in our place, but He also was resurrected and in being so, defeated sin and death, and not only that but sanctified humanity giving them access to eternal life sharing in His resurrection.
Satan, who thought he had won his greatest victory a few days ago, now is completely defeated. He did the very best he could and killed the Son of God, only to find out that was the God’s plan all along. He didn’t win anything and in fact lost the soul of all that would believe in what God had done for them.
Especially today, we praise and honor our God for completing His work of salvation, for being completely victorious, and for infusing His resurrected power into the hearts of all that come to Him.
The only question is how will you come to the empty tomb this morning? Are you coming to the empty tomb as St. John did, out of love and devotion believing in the supernatural or do you need to come as St. Peter did, repenting of your sin and looking for a second chance? The power of the Gospel is that Christ came and died equally for both these situations. St. John continued to believe, and St. Peter was restored completely.
Either way, at Communion we will come to the empty tomb, to see for ourselves the Resurrected Lord, we will encounter Him through receiving His Body and Blood in the form of bread and wine. He is not dead but alive and with us. I bid you this morning to come and see, the tired tomb is empty, and our Lord is risen. Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia. Amen.