Can we bear this glory?

Good morning, Friends! Happy Easter!

We’ve already had a lot of Easter things this morning. We’ve had songs and flowers. Some of us came early for a good breakfast. You may have even started getting into some of your Easter chocolate.

I don’t want to keep you long. But we do need to remember the reason for everything. And the reason is? Jesus!

I don’t want to go back over the story of the cross and the tomb again. After all, on Easter it’s an empty cross, and an empty tomb, right?

Even though you’ve probably heard it before, though, let’s listen to the Easter story.

When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body.

Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?”

But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.

“Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’”

Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.

When Jesus rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had driven seven demons. She went and told those who had been with him and who were mourning and weeping. When they heard that Jesus was alive and that she had seen him, they did not believe it.

Afterward Jesus appeared in a different form to two of them while they were walking in the country. These returned and reported it to the rest; but they did not believe them either.

Later Jesus appeared to the Eleven as they were eating; he rebuked them for their lack of faith and their stubborn refusal to believe those who had seen him after he had risen.

Mark 16:1-14

It always seems that Easter has too many things going on. There are too many special effects. It makes it hard for us to believe.

When Jesus died, it says that darkness covered the whole earth for three hours. We don’t know if it was just cloudy and overcast, or if it was something darker, like an eclipse. One of the gospels says there was an earthquake.

Three of the gospels say that the veil of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.
People believed that when sacrifices and incense were offered, that God Almighty came down into the inner chamber, the holy of holies. It was so sacred, that a curtain was hung across the entrance, because no one could see the face of God and live.

So, when it says that the veil of the temple was torn in two, it’s saying that when Jesus died, suddenly we could all see God clearly. There was no more mystery about what God was doing. There was no more secret plan. No more secret identity.

Jesus is the savior. The Greek word for savior is Christ. All of a sudden, we see that, we know that. It’s real.

Then we get to Easter morning. The tomb is empty. The huge stone is rolled away, by an unseen hand. Jesus’ body is missing. It’s gone! Even the grave clothes are left behind.

And then they saw an angel, inside the tomb. The angel says, “Don’t be afraid! You’re looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He’s been raised! He isn’t here. Look, you can see the place where they laid him!”

And they all ran away, because they were so scared. No one believed them. It was just too much to believe. That’s the story. That’s what it says in the gospel.

It’s like, the people who were writing this down, couldn’t just say what they knew: Jesus IS alive, and we feel him present, and we know that we’re forgiven.

Now we’re supposed to go out and do all the things that Jesus told us. We’re supposed to remember what Jesus taught. And we’re supposed to live it, and teach it, and tell people that the kingdom Jesus talked about is really close to us.

People couldn’t just say that. They had to throw in all this other stuff, to emphasize the message: Jesus is alive. We feel the Spirit. We see God at work, every day.

We are forgiven. Jesus said that to people, over and over again. We are forgiven. We can come back, like the Prodigal Son, who took one step towards home, and his father came running to meet him.

We are not alone. Jesus walks with us, through the darkest times in our lives, as well as the bright, happy times. Most of you here know that, from your own experience. We are not alone. We are never alone.

It’s not a mystery what God is up to. God is in the mercy business. God is in the healing business. God is in the soul feeding business.

If you feel that God doesn’t like you, if you feel that God is punishing you, if you feel that God rejects you, that isn’t true.

God is with you, through every day, in every way. God loves you, more than you can ever realize. Easter says all that.

It’s a beautiful day today, and we enjoy that. We enjoy seeing each other. But even when you’re not here at worship, remember what Easter really means.

It means that God loves you. Easter means that Jesus is alive, truly alive, and he’s beside you.

It means that death doesn’t get the last word. The first word, and the last word, is always the life and light and love of Jesus Christ.

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