Sermon for Easter
“Who Is It You Are Looking For?”
April 16, 2017
Rev. Matthew William Crick
Sermon Text: John 20:10-18
On Easter morning, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene and the other women arrived at Jesus’ tomb, and they saw that it had been opened. Angels were there who told them Jesus is alive. They ran to tell the apostles, who did not believe it. Peter and John then ran to the tomb, and saw it was open and the linen clothes lying there, with the cloth that was tied around Jesus’ head folded up carefully by itself. They leave, wondering. Mary returned alone encountering two angels, and then Jesus himself, though he kept her from recognizing him right away. He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?” She thinks he is the gardener…
In sin, we do not know who God is, or if there is a God at all. Yet we seek. What will we find? Today’s lesson teaches us who God is, and where God is, and what God is like. After the greatest turmoil that could be experienced, witnessing the slow awful death of a friend, all of Jesus’ disciples were wondering if Jesus really was God’s Son as he claimed. How could this have happened to him if he is God’s Son? Mary Magadelene learned that he is. She did not go to the tomb early in the morning expecting to find the tomb opened or Jesus alive. She did not expect to meet angels telling her this good news. Yet the tomb was open and Jesus was alive. Suddenly, he comes to her, ministering to her personally. God is not far away, nor uninterested in us in our sorrows. He comes to us, to bear our sin, call us to repentance and faith, dry our tears, refresh our hopes. This is God, what he is like. Through the Word of God, go to the empty tomb and there you will find him.
Tombs, or gravesites, are not places we visit for hope. We visit there to pay by respects to our loved one who has died, recall memories, wish, somehow, he or she was still alive. I don’t know if anyone feels exactly happy when visiting a grave, even if we are confident that loved one is in heaven with the Savior Jesus. We certainly don’t feel happy or don’t go to the grave to become happy if we have doubts about the loved one, why they died, who they really were in their hearts. Was it any different for Mary Magdalene on Easter morning, when she arrived at the tomb of Jesus while it was still dark? She wasn’t going there with the other women because she was happy, or to find happiness. She was going there in terrible, deep sadness, not only emotional sadness, but soul sadness. Jesus had proclaimed himself the Son of God, the Son of Man, Savior, Peace, and Life. Now he was dead! What soul sadness, which followed the slow awful death of her friend and Savior!
Mary’s Doubts about Jesus Rising As He Said He Would Illustrate Human Doubt with God.
1. Our basic struggle with God is our struggle with death.
2. We refuse to acknowledge there is death in us due to Adam’s sin, and we blame God for our dying.
3. Who is God? Where is He? What is God like? These questions are dictated by our view of death, and who is to blame for it.
4. Mary at the graveside of Jesus – not in hope, but downcast in hopelessness.
The Last Place We Would Go For Joy Is the First Place God is.
1. Mary at the graveside of Jesus – not in hope
2. Angels at the graveside of Jesus – proclaim hope and life in risen Jesus
3. Jesus, alive, at the graveside of Jesus – where else would he be?
4. He asks Mary, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”
5. He reveals himself to Mary. She rejoices.
6. He proclaims the victory, “I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.”
7. God and happiness at the graveside. Hope in all situations for you in the world.
“My heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay.” – Psalm 16:10