Easter 2009

Mark 16:1-8


We had a big question already this morning…”Woman, why are you weeping?”  Angels asked Mary Magdalene that question at the grave of Jesus.  And Jesus asked the same question of Mary, “Why are you weeping?”


Easter asks some very big questions.  The writer Mark posits some big questions too.


You know some important questions.  All of you do?  “Do you love me?” is a big question.  “Will you marry me?” is perhaps even a bigger question.  “Have you seen my keys?” can be a big question.  “Do we get paid today?”  A big question but not so important on Easter Sunday. “What’s the weather going to be like?” maybe was our question before, but we know what the answer is now.



1. It is a very big stone

2. It is a very big fear

3. It is a very big comfort.


1. It is a very big stone

Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?”


There is song by John Anderson about loving someone who won’t get rid of the stone.  We talk about something that is as hard as stone.  Something can be stone cold dead.  There is stony silence.  And we have, of course, grave stones.  On the first Easter morning, the question about stones was, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?”  There was this big stone that stood between those who loved Jesus and him.  At least it seemed like there was this stone and they thought there was this stone.  


The writer to the New Testament book of Romans asks this same big question when he wrote, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?  Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?”  Those are all imagined stones that would stand between us and Jesus…could stand between us and Jesus.  But the writer goes on, “For I am convinced that neither death nor life…nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  There you have it.  No stone will be so big and so heavy  that it won’t be gotten out of the way so we can be with our Savior Jesus.


Stone is even a weight.  In Great Britain the word stone is a designated weight of 14 pounds.  Who will get the huge stone of weight off our hearts this day…the weight that comes when we see death and the cruel brute force of bad things that happen to good people or even worse,  bad things that happen to bad people?   Who will roll that stone away?  


And what about our grave stone?  We might already have ours.  It might already have our name and birth date carved on it.  It might be standing there waiting for that inevitable day.  It seems like it already knows when it will be.  It’s grim hardness seems to say that it already knows.  It surely knows that it will be if it doesn’t know when.


But Easter did come.  And it turned out that the question that seemed so pressing didn’t have to be answered at all.  It became a non-question.  God made it that way.  He took care of the stone.  Angels flicked it away.  It was gone.  He wasn’t there.  Death was defeated.  The grave was empty.  The grave stone didn’t have the last say.  It really only had the first say.  “Jesus is risen.  He isn’t here.  Why do you look for the living among the dead.  Get out of this place with your questions and concerns.  The God who provided a sacrifice will provide a way to get the stone away too.


2. It is a very big fear

    A second very big question of Easter was, “Who can possibly take care of our fears…all of them?  We read about the question with the words about these women who got to Jesus’ tomb first, “…and they were alarmed…Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb.  They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.


There was lots of fear on the first Easter.  What’s going to happen to us?  What’s going to happen to Jesus?  What’s going to happen to our church?  (It didn’t look very good for the church with all the pastors holed up in a tight apartment in Jerusalem on Sunday!)


This is the second haunting question we ask, and we ask it often.  “Who can possibly take care of our fears…all of them?”  The most frightening thing about this fear was (is) that it seems like Jesus isn’t up to it.  He is strangely still and silent.  It seems like he is behind heavy stone.  Is our faith dead?  Is it all really true that there is a God in heaven who takes care of his people’s fears?


How finally do you deal with fear?  Fear can consume.  Fear can constrict. Fear can restrict.  Fear can make us psychotic. Fear is paralyzing. Really, fear is stress gone wild.  Fear is…..fear!  And be however cavalier you want to be, the fear of death is still the greatest fear.  It is this fear that our Savior dealt with.  At the prospects of his birth the old father of John the Baptist said about Jesus, “…to rescue us from the hand of our enemies, and to enable us to serve him without fear in holiness and righteousness before him all our days…to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace.”  (Luke 1)


3. It is a very big comfort

“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.’


How are we going to be comforted?  You might not think it, but you desperately need comfort.  Jesus knows you need it.  He promised to send his Comforter.  You need someone strong to throw his arm around your shoulders and say, “What is your worry?  What is your need?  What is your fear?  Give them to me.  I can handle them.  I can take care of them.  Don’t worry about a thing.  I’m with you and my name is God.  My name is Jesus.  I’m the One who rose from the dead.  I’m the One who crushed the devil’s head for you.  I’m the One who made a place for you in heaven.  I’m the One who loves you.”


Do you want comfort?   It is the question we ask.  It is a big question.  And there is an answer too.  There is comfort in this fact: Jesus is doing just what he said he would do.  “It is just as he told you.”  He’s doing just what he said he would do.  Easter shows us that God’s plan is going to happen just like he said it would.  Everything is all right.  Everything in a world going quickly mad is still just like our God planned for his people.  His plan is right on track to save us all.


And one day when we are rising into the air to meet the Lord and to forever be with him---when we fly for the first time!---we are going to say to ourselves, “It is just like he said it would be.”


Do you want comfort?   It is a big question.  And it has a second answer that rests on Jesus promise to be with us.  “He is going ahead of you.”  That’s what the writer recorded.  And it is still true.  It comforts us to know it.  Jesus not only is with us right now…he is going to be with us.  Always.  Forever.  And if this Jesus is with us, who can be against us?  What can be against us?  (And you must know the answers.  You do know the answers!)


Do you want comfort? “There you will see him.”  That is what the angel told the first people to Easter.  You will see him!  That is a great comfort.  Imagine that!  This is a huge comfort.  This is the very comfort Job took for himself too.  “My eyes will see him!”  It is even as old Simeon could say, “Now let your servant depart in peace.  My eyes have seen your salvation which you have prepared before the face of all people.  A light to lighten the Gentiles and the glory of your people Israel.”  We will see him!  It’s a promise!


If we just don’t see how things are going to work out…we will see!  It is the angels’ promise to us on this day.  “There you will see him,” they promised.


What greater comfort is there?  Amen.