Go and Tell – April 21, 2019, Easter Sunday!
April 21, 2019, Easter!
The Lord is Risen! This is the event that changed history – the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. That’s what we celebrate today! And hopefully you celebrate that in your own life, too! And I don’t just mean with bunnies and eggs and bonnets – and those things are wonderful! Don’t get me wrong! But this event changed history, and I hope it has changed you!
Jesus tried to tell his disciples what was going to happen. Even here, in Mark’s Resurrection account, there’s a little “reminder” – a little “dig” about that. The angel at the tomb said, “ He has risen, he is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, …as he told you!”
Jesus told them all of that was going to happen – in great detail! But they were more interested in what they hoped would happen. And when it didn’t happen, when he didn’t do the things they thought the Messiah would do, (or should do!) it was disappointing. And then, when he died, that was devastating! All of their hopes and dreams died with him! We can’t even imagine!
Think about it! What were they doing, what were they feeling, since the Crucifixion? For three days, besides the terrible sense of loss, they had to have been thinking, “What do we do now?” “It’s all over!” Even after the Resurrection, what did they do? They went back to fishing. It was like, “Ok, he’s risen, and that’s all great. But the traveling around and preaching a new Gospel and telling about the kingdom – all that is done.” “It’s over!”
But that was after the Resurrection. This was before that. This was Easter morning. The disciples were still devastated. They were still in hiding, thinking they were next! Don’t forget that! But then this day… This day was the dawning of the Resurrection! The world was about to find out what happened! The world was about to change!
In all the Gospels, the initial feelings, the first reactions on Easter morning were reactions of fear and disbelief. In Luke, when the disciples heard what the women said when they came from the tomb, “They thought it was an idle tale, and they wouldn’t believe it!” In other words, they thought it was like a fairy tale!
Then you have Mark’s account, and I love this! The women “fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had come over them. And they said nothing to anyone because they were afraid.” Of course, they said something eventually, or else no one would have heard. But at first they said nothing. And I believe Mark told it that way for a reason. Because, throughout Mark’s Gospel, we hear people being told – often by Jesus – not to tell anyone about what had happened to them. Maybe they had been healed, or freed from an evil spirit. But Jesus told them not to tell, because he always seemed to be concerned about how news of his being the Messiah should be heard. So he charged people to say nothing. But then, what was often the case? They told everyone!
So now the women are finally being told to “Go and tell.” And they do the opposite! They tell no one! And as I once heard someone say, “Who does that leave to tell the story?” The answer, “We the readers!” The mandate to the women is our mandate! We’re the ones who are called to “Go and Tell!”
So how do we do that? How do we “Go and Tell?” There are many ways. It could be as simple as acknowledging that “This is the most important celebration in Christendom!” Because it is! It could simply be pointing out how “We started counting the years all over again – from this time! From this event!” – “Two thousand and nineteen years ago!”
But it’s also important to tell our part in it. That’s what matters to people. How important is Easter to us? Again, that could be something as simple as saying, “Billions of people throughout history have become part of this celebration. And I’m one of them!” And that is true! We in the church are part of something that is two thousand years old! We are part of that long line of believers, that “great cloud of witnesses. And that gives us hope!
There’s a song we sing at First Service called “Praise the King!” It was written by a man named Corey Voss. And in that song there’s an often repeated line, “There’s a reason why…”
One of the verses goes like this:
“There’s a reason why we are not overtaken,
There’s a reason why we sing on through the night,
There’s a reason why our hope remains eternal,
Jesus is alive!”
Having that hope, evident in our lives, is another way we “Go and Tell.” I Peter 3:15 says, “Always be prepared to give a reason for the hope that is within you.” We “go and tell” of the Resurrection by the way we live our lives. People know the hope that is within us because they see the hope that is within us!
So ask yourself this Easter morn, “Do you have that hope?” “If so, does it show?” Think about that. And think about how you can be prepared to give answer, to tell the reason, for the hope! We have that hope because Jesus is alive!
That brings us back to what I said at first. This event changed the world. I hope it has changed you! So I ask again, does Easter make a difference for you? Do you have the strength to get through? Do you have the joy within you? Do you have that hope that remains eternal? If you’re not sure, let me say again, (and again, and again, and again!) the difference is that Jesus is alive! And that’s important, because… Jesus is God!
Let me make that clear again today. Jesus is alive, and Jesus is God. That belief about Jesus has been slipping over the years. But it’s nothing new. From the earliest days of the Church, there have always been people who thought that Jesus was not God. In the earliest days some thought Jesus was just a man who was used by God for great things. At the same time there are others who have thought Jesus was God but only appeared to be human. The Church has traditionally believed he is fully God, and fully human!
That’s important, because the idea is that if Jesus were God alone, he wouldn’t have felt the intensity of human suffering. And if he were human alone, his death would have not been sufficient to “pay the price” for the sins of the entire world. It can’t be one or the other. The solution – the truth – is, that he was both!
That’s the traditional understanding of the nature of Jesus. He was 100% human and 100% God! But what does it mean to you? That’s the most important question. Jesus is the Son of God! He has the power to bring you into relationship with God! The Christian faith is not just about believing the right things! It’s about being in relationship with God! Because that’s what God wants. And the crucifixion, the resurrection, is proof of that!
As I said last week, Jesus didn’t die simply to forgive your sins. He died to free you from them! His victory was not over sin, but over the power of sin! He didn’t die to treat the symptoms of sinfulness, but to cure the disease! That’s what Jesus did! He wanted to remove the obstacles – the barriers – between you and himself! And that’s what he did through the cross! And the resurrection is the proof of that!
So, I ask again, do you have that hope within you? Think about it. Do you “go and tell,” by the way you live your life? Do you show the hope and peace of God no matter what? And are you always ready to give answer for that hope that lies within you?”
This is a great day of hope and joy and celebration! The world was changed, and we are changed, because Jesus is the Son of God. And Jesus is Alive!
Eternal God, we thank you, and we praise you, for the good news of great joy we celebrate today. May we truly know you through Jesus your Son. May we have that great hope in him, and may it show in our lives. May your light shine through us. For we pray in Jesus’ name, Amen!