Easter 2022 I Know This Much is True

Easter 2019  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  58:09
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John 20:1–18 NIV
Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!” So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. Then Simon Peter came along behind him and went straight into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head. The cloth was still lying in its place, separate from the linen. Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. (They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.) Then the disciples went back to where they were staying. Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot. They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?” “They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus. He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?” Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.” Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”). Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ ” Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.
For God So LOVED
Death has been explained many different ways, and all of these ways seem to leave me wanting. It feels disordered and wrong. I’ve heard grief described as waves, as if the grief of a loss will overwhelm one moment but feel nearly absent in the next. Grief is an inexplicable pain, and death is a loss beyond all other losses.
And Mary felt all of that. The loss of a friend, a teacher, and a guide. The grief that would come to any of us at the loss of a friend, yet compounded by what seemed to be the loss of hope as well. She thought he was the Messiah, the one who would rise up to free them from their oppressors, from poverty, from hardship. She thought he might save her too—a powerful hope for a woman in a world that looked down on women, a world that years and cultures later would often still seek to discredit her.
Her grief was so great that she traveled to the tomb alone, John says. And while other Gospel accounts say there were others with her, they are always still just women. She was going to the tomb at a time that would have been dangerous for the followers of Jesus.
But Mary still went. Maybe she thought they would discredit her due to her gender, or maybe her grief compelled her, or maybe this illustrates how bold and brave she is, that she was going to show up, no matter what that meant for her. But she is there that Sunday morning. Tears in her eyes, grief in her heart—when she witnesses the miracle of all miracles.

Jesus shows up, but she doesn’t recognize him

a. Mary believes him to be a gardener.
John is illustrating a theological truth here—that what first happened in a garden (sin enter- ing the world) was being conquered in a garden, through resurrection.
Jesus is a gardener of sorts, causing life to grow where there was once death.
It makes sense that she doesn’t recognize him because why would she expect to see someone alive whom she has just seen die?
She’s in a garden, so it would make sense for her to believe him to be a gardener.
b. While there is theological truth and depth to John writing about gardens and gardeners, Mary wouldn’t have been making those deep theological connections.
She would just know that her friend had died and that she missed him.
She would have been sitting in deep grief, not just at the loss of a friend but also at the loss of the hope of him being the one to free her and her people.
She is crying out of deep pain, and as anyone with deep pain knows, it is hard to focus on anything but the pain of that moment.
There have been studies done on the effect of grief on people, and brains shut down to
their very basic functions when faced with such extreme emotions.
Unnecessary tasks are nearly impossible to do, and it is easy to forget simple things due to
the impact of grief on the brain.
This impact on brain function also accounts for her inability to recognize Jesus because
she is operating in survival mode.
Her one source of hope comes from her ability to honor his body for his burial, and her grief
would be compounded by losing that ability. 1. She doesn’t care about anything in this moment except knowing where Jesus’s body is.

Mary recognizes Jesus when he speaks her name

a. When her name is spoken there is a powerful moment of recognition.
Being named by Jesus has power.
Jesus sees her, knows her, and calls out to her. She is not just another person grieving; she is his disciple whom he loves.
b. It is out of her naming and recognition of Jesus that she is told to go.
She is now given the name of evangelist as Jesus tells her to tell the others.
She is given a task that wouldn’t have been given to women because their testimony lacked credibility.
iii. She is no longer just Mary; now she is Mary who has seen the risen Christ, Mary the evangelist.

The way to resurrection is through death.

a. Living the resurrected life means walking the hard road to the cross.
i. This means laying down our greed, selfishness, pride, etc.
ii. This also might mean laying down our very lives for those around us. iii. It means doing hard things and going to unexpected and hard places. b. We go into the worst places of the world trusting the hope of resurrection.
The resurrection community does not fear the worst places but seeks to bring hope into them.
The resurrection community finds the darkest and most dangerous places of the world to cast the light and life of resurrection.
The resurrection community knows that in the power of the Spirit, they can do hard things.

There is resurrection for the dead places of our hearts and of our world

a. There is resurrection in all circumstances. i. For places embroiled in racism, sexism, and any form of hate, there is resurrection.
ii. For places consumed by poverty and hopelessness, there is hope in the resurrection. iii. For places battling drought and disease, there is resurrection hope.
iv. For places overcome by violence, there is resurrection.
b. As the resurrection community, we are the ones who are called to go.
i.Even when it is hard and difficult.
ii. The gifts of the body multiply our work. iii. We are not abandoned but are gifted by the Holy Spirit.
iv. We declare through our lives, our words, and our actions that even the most forgotten places, even the worst places, can be redeemed.

Jesus sends Mary and Us

a. We are called to be a resurrection community.
We, like Mary and the disciples, are called out of sin and death.
We live in hopeful expectation that, just as Christ was raised, we too will be raised.
With that hope, and in that hope, we go like Mary to share the news of the risen Christ and the hope of resurrection life with the world.
b. We find the dead places of the world and breathe resurrection into them.
We join the Holy Spirit in the work of sowing seeds of resurrection.
We walk boldly, despite the dangers that might exist, to share with those who haven’t heard yet.
We illuminate dark places with light.
We find those who are locked in rooms in fear, like the disciples, and we share with them the news that they do not need to live in fear.

Our baptism reminds us that we are a part of the resurrection community

Baptism is the initiating act into the community of resurrection.
The water illustrates cleansing but also being brought out of death and into life.
When we baptize others, we are welcoming them into this community to be people of the resur- rection, but we also remember who we are, that we are people of the resurrection and a part of this community.
We are the community of the resurrection. Knowing Jesus was alive was not enough for Mary. She was sent to share the good news with the world. We remember and celebrate that Christ is risen this morn- ing, but it is not enough for us to celebrate here in this space. We, like Mary, are told to go and tell the others. We are called to breathe resurrection, to live resurrection, to sing resurrection, to do the work of resurrection in the world, that the dead places might come to life and that we might see others join in this community of hope, the community of the resurrection.
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