24 Apr The Stone is Rolled Away
Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed! Alleluia Alleluia!
It’s the greatest pronouncement in the world, one that no God in no other religion can say, “Jesus Christ is risen from the dead!”
The first question people often raise when this news is heard is, “are you serious?” To answer we must turn back to the Gospels themselves. It is interesting to note that the Gospels never argue with or become apologetical about the resurrection. The Gospels themselves simply start telling stories about Jesus’ appearances.
We are dealing with a development that didn’t arise within previous human experience, it was not the sum total of a process in the belief of immortality, but with an incursion, an invasion, an outside reality given to Jesus’ body by God. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is the true miracle of the Bible. The Resurrection of Jesus, this Easter season, is the penultimate miracle to the miracle of Christ himself that this Son of God would be born of a woman and live as God among us… that is the miracle of our faith.
An Offensive Idea
There is much suspicion in our time about the idea that the body might be resurrected from the dead. It offends us modern enlightened folks to the effect that we have almost completely stopped believing in the bodily resurrected altogether. When I remind people even in the church that our own Apostle’s Creed has us stating together out loud that we believe in the resurrection of the body I am confronted with the fact that no one really thought about what it was they were saying and that that idea itself is a little bit offensive. Let me remind you that the modern mind is not the final referee on truth today and the truth itself is not always going to make sense to us who pride ourselves in the truth being always in terms of black and white, right and wrong, off and on, truth or fiction.
The New Testament bears witness to the power and speed in which the belief in the Resurrection spread among the disciples and acted on the world. The despair of Good Friday turned in the span of three days into a signal of joy and confidence as the band of believers began to climb from the tomb of their despair and sadness to the heavens themselves. The church of Jesus Christ has begun its march across the centuries.
Why does this faith continue its work throughout time and country, across peoples and places, regardless of science or judgments about fact or fiction? Ask Matthew, Mark, and Luke why? Ask Paul or James or John. With nearly one voice they will give you the answer that has bent human history towards God over and over again. And, I might add, they might throw in the wisdom that arguing about it is not likely to prove conducive to the faith of either the new or old believer… in the Bible, as in our lives, as in history, the Resurrection simply is.
So our foremost concern this morning and in the mornings to come is to be reminded of the magnificent way that God changed life here. He rolled away from our lives the stone of futility. I don’t need to remind you about the sense of utter uselessness that presses down on the human soul in this day. The evidence of our pain can be seen and heard just in the politics of this country much less around the world. Civilization is driving humanity around like gadgets on the flywheel of progress until it smashes into another flywheel and then ends in the idiotic chaos called war and then everyone stands around like spoiled children trying to justify it. We occupy such tiny spaces – our little homes our little jobs a few children and some close friends and that’s it. Why should we get so excited about things? What difference does it make? And then God today flung his glove in our face and dares us not to be as little as we think but as great as we are.
He rolled away the stone of bitterness. Many of our lives have buried our hopes in that tomb of resentments and sorrow but today we here of a day beyond the pain and the failure when God will take it all up in his hands and shape it so that even the dull spirits of our lives can begin to make sense of it. The list of things that Paul lays out in 2 Corinthians 11:16-33 mirror the bitterness of our human life… a list that sounds like this: work, punishments, prisons, shipwrecks, nakedness and cold and when Paul added all of those things up the answer he came up with in comparison to God’s glory in the resurrection was this: not worthy to even be compared.
He Rolled Away the Stone of Injustice
Many human hearts get buried under that one before their time… but God has a way of striking his own balance and there is nothing vindictive about it. The scales of justice are weighted with God’s love but they are still scales. A man may go around as he pleases looking for thorns and reeds and purple robes but they cannot finish the story. There is only One Jesus who finishes it. No one can hurl into his face such a thing like the cross and then go about their own business as nothing has changed or worse than we have beaten God. Truth cannot be treated as many of us treat it. The story of the Resurrection is the story of a God whose judgments are sure, saying their eternal “no” to every crucifixion we continue to foist upon each other and especially the least and the lost and the lowly. When we crucify those who do not look or act like us and mold God into some mirror image of us and our judgments and our lives then we, too, risk crucifying Jesus all over again.
But to this reality of the sin that creeps into my life and yours stands this empty tomb this day and the sound of the Gospel: Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed!
Let our feet join the running steps of the disciples as we hurry to lift all human faces everywhere to the face that we have seen again.
Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Amen.