Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. John 20:8-9
I’m sure you have noticed that in our postmodern society as we tend to call it; there are a growing number of people who seem to doubt that Jesus was indeed raised from the grave. Historians, scientist and even some liberal biblical scholars work to disprove the resurrection account of Jesus. They say it couldn’t have happened like that.
There is, I suppose, overwhelming scientific evidence that when a human body can no longer function, when vital organs shut down, lungs cease breathing and hearts stop beating, one is certainly dead. Looking back on the events of Good Friday, the way Jesus was beaten and tortured, then hung on the cross to be crucified; his lifeless body certainly met all the criteria of death.
According to science, according to nature, even according to those who witnessed Jesus’ death, there could be no way Jesus could have been raised from the grave. That would have taken a miracle. That would have taken an act of God. No wonder the disciples and Mary didn’t understand it.
As Mary sat alone near the tomb, suddenly two men appeared and asked, “Why are you weeping? And before she could answer, another person asked her the very same question. She didn’t know it, but it was Jesus himself. Somehow she didn’t recognize him. She didn’t understand. She didn’t expect to see him. It’s amazing, but after following Jesus and hearing his teaching. Having sat at his feet and witnessing his miracles, somehow she didn’t know that it was indeed her risen Lord standing before her there in the garden. But then Jesus did something extraordinary, Jesus did something extraordinarily simple.
Jesus, as he did so many times before, looked upon her, had compassion and called her by name. One simple word from her Lord and Savior made all the difference. Mary. Suddenly her eyes were opened. All at once she realized everything Jesus said was true. In an instant her doubt was turned into belief and her sorrow turned to complete joy. Jesus is alive, she has seen him, Mary knows her redeemer lives! It’s in this same way that we too come to believe that Christ is risen.
St. Paul writes that since through baptism we have been joined with Christ in a death like his, we will certainly be joined in a resurrection like his. In baptism, God forgives our sins through the sacrifice of Jesus. In baptism God pours out his Holy Spirit upon us. In baptism God blesses us with the gift of faith, faith that calls us to believe that God’s promises are eternal and true. In baptism, God reaches down from heaven, takes us into his embrace and claims us to be his children, calling us by name…just like Mary.
Maybe there are so many lost people in the world today because they are so hard at work trying to debunk the good news of Christ that they cannot hear God calling them. Perhaps that’s why there are those who work to cast doubt on God’s promises. Perhaps that’s way so many try to disprove the gospel or attempt to make it irrelevant. They are so hard at work, searching for the ways of the world, distracted by the noise of so many empty promises, they can’t hear God calling their name. And so God calls his people.
Through baptism and the power of the Holy Spirit, God calls the church, God calls you and he calls me; God calls us all to tell others about his salvation. Especially at Easter, God call us to be powerful witnesses to the resurrection of Jesus, to proclaim the truth of his gospel, and to bring to his table, all those who hunger and thirst for his grace and mercy.
People of God, the good news of Easter is that Christ is risen. Death no longer has dominion; Jesus is alive. Because he lives we too shall live in the glory of God’s kingdom. Mary told the disciples. The disciples told others. Now God calls us to do no less. Tell others the good news, Jesus is alive, Christ is risen. And because he lives, those who believe and call on his name will have everlasting life.
The reports of Mary and the disciples are true. Jesus, who once was dead, is alive. God has raised him from the grave. Through Jesus’ death, God has destroyed death. Through his resurrection, Christ has opened the gates of heaven for you, for me, and for all who believe. This is the good news of Easter. Christi s risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!