Posted by First United Methodist Church – Nebraska City on Sunday, April 12, 2020
SER # 15W
FIRST UMC – NEBRASKA CITY
COLOR: WHITE OR GOLD
SUNDAY APRIL 12TH 2020
TEXTS: MATTHEW 28: 1 – 10
THEME: FILLED WITH FEAR AND EXCITEMENT.
Our Scripture today is Matthew 28: 1 – 10 “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 become 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 quickly and tell his 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 his 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.”
In this incident of Matthew once again shows the women leading the way to the tomb where Jesus was buried. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary (may be the mother of James) (Mark 16:1 has Mary Magdalene, Mary mother of James and Salome, Luke 24:10 has Mary Magdalene, Joanna and Mary mother of James John 20:1 has only Mary Magdalene) went to the tomb in the morning. As we read this resurrection event, we quickly discover that it is one where women were ahead of men. Which to me, might mean it was so clear from that incident that men found it hard to deny the women involvement in the ministry of Jesus. We ought to credit women for their bravely here. It might also show the true mark of discipleship that these women demonstrated by their brave action. It also tells of their place in three years that they were involved with Jesus. It is more than just a sense of courage but a sign of dedication and commitment on the part of the women disciples. Mark narrates the journey of women as that of adventure in that they were not sure how the stone would be rolled away but they went anyway without seeking help from the men disciples.
It is important to remember that they were not able to go to the tomb the day before because it was on the Sabbath. The Sabbath was a day of rest according to the Jewish laws. The women wanted to anoint Jesus body as a sign of; love, devotion, and respect. Bringing spices to the tomb is like taking flowers to a grave of the person you love today. These women were the brave and they decided to go and anoint the body of Jesus, but they were faced with two big challenges: The Roman Guards and the rolling of the stone. But they did not know that God had taken care of those two challenges before they got there. We know that the risen Lord did not need an open tomb to come out for we know from other sources that he would go in the houses where the disciples were even when the doors were locked. According to Mark narrative when the women approached the tomb, they realized the stone was already rolled and they proceeded right in. While in Mathew they did not get in at first but had a conversation with a man dressed in white who later invites them to go in and see. According to Mark gospel as soon as they got in, they discovered a young man sitting on the right side next to where Jesus had been laid and they were alarmed. But he informed them that Jesus is already risen and has gone ahead to Galilee. They were invited to look where Jesus body had been. The young man informed them to go and let the disciples know about it.
If then we can visit with these women and ask them what they were afraid and where they found joy in the whole process it might probably help our understanding of Easter story today as well as our life journey.
- They had unspoken fears like: who will roll the stone? Someone has defined fear as an acronym that stands for: False, Evidence Appearing R The fear then was; What would the soldiers do to us? What if Jesus body was not there? What if the authorities catch up with us? The list can continue. To their surprise when they got there the stone was already rolled away. Th solders were nowhere to be found and the authorities were in confusion in town. The women were afraid in general because they did not know what to expect. In simple terms they were afraid of the shocking reality that would meet them at the tomb. Let look at some examples of how people get afraid; when we visit the doctor’s office for instance and we get the following message(s) “The X-rays shows that you will not walk again. I’m sorry or I regret to have to tell you that your child has degenerative disorder. He will not get better or we have now tried everything possible. I am afraid we are not going to be able to save your eyesight. Statements like these can be very discouraging and can make one feel scared and unsure of what to do next. Probably the worst problems that we have are the unspoken fears that eat us from inside. Today our country and the whole world is struggling with Covid-19. We do not know how this will end and who in our family or friends will be claimed by it. So, it is a true fear of this coronavirus but to a certain level we have to trust God to do what we can’t. We are only invited to do our part. If it’s social distancing we will do it. God will help bring the cure. Those things that we are unable to share even with our closest friends can be so damaging to our own esteem and Christian Journey. It is therefore because of these that Christ had to die on the cross so that you and me can bring to him all these burdens. Always remember this, whatever is impossible to human being is always possible with God. Three times in the passage we read today says “do not be afraid.” These women never knew who was to roll the stone from the tomb entrance yet they went to the tomb anyway. But God through his Angel did it. This then tell us Easter is a time we are reminded that Jesus lifts our burdens and that died and rose again. What burdens are you carrying this morning? Sometimes we suffer from perceived burden and we forget God promises to go ahead of us as he did with the women in our story. Perceived burden can stop us from realizing God’s faithfulness. People will say, there is no need of asking because he/she will say no anyway. Have you had those moments? If they are spoken, unspoken or perceived, Jesus is willing to walk ahead of you and lift them up. Though afraid, the women walked in the tomb and talked with the young man. In the midst of these challenges we are facing today with the Covid-19 or challenges in our individual life we have to go forward like these women because we are driven by the love and gratitude for Jesus and leave the big obstacles to God to handle.
- They were filled with Joy and excitement: The joy came about in discovering that Jesus was raised and was not in the tomb. I just want to remind you that Jesus had been raised even before the stone was rolled away. The women were asked to go in and confirm what the Angel had just told them. In the other Gospels we read that the clothes that had wrapped him were still the way they were as if the body was still in and yet there was no body. This makes the resurrection of Jesus unique compared to that of Lazarus who the stone had to be rolled away in order to walk out and all the clothes wrapping him had to be removed before he would be able to walk. The joy was in the message that their savior was still alive. This had three impacts: First it revived the hearts of believers. The Angels directed them to go and tell the disciples about the event and on their way they meet with Jesus who tells them not to be afraid. Again, Jesus tells them to inform his brethren that he was to meet them in Galilee. Note that he calls them brothers, as there was some form of bonding that had taken place. Second it confirmed the prophecy that he would die and on the third day we would be raised. Jesus during his ministry he had mention about the Temple that can be destroyed and be put back in three days referring to his death and resurrection but people would not understand. Third his resurrection meant that death was no more a victor but death was overcome by his life. The death that was brought about the sin of man is no more for Christ conquered death. Jesus kept his promise this marks the beginning of a new hope that death is defeated. Four, resurrection gives us the assurance that we will also be risen from dead when we die. For the power of God that brought Christ back to life is with us today. By his blood shed on the cross our sins will be washed away