Posts Tagged ‘Not Dead’

He Is Not Dead (Easter Sunday) 4-20-14

This sermon comes from Matthew 28:1-10. This is the story of Jesus’ resurrection. You can listen to the sermon here:
https://soundcloud.com/revdalen/he-is-not-dead-easter-sunday-4-20-14

You can follow along with the text of the sermon here. As usual, disregard the indicators to pause and the weird punctuation.

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Risen Lord and Savior Jesus Christ…Amen

Just out of curiosity, how many people out there are Star Trek fans? (pause) Oh come on now…don’t be shy…embrace your geek status…who are the fans?

I have been a Star Trek fan for a long time…and there is A LOT to be a fan of in the Star Trek universe. First popularized on tv with the original series back in the 60’s. Rebooted with multiple different tv series…5 to be exact…continued on through 6 movies with the original crew, 1 cross over movie between two different series, 3 more movies with the new cast…and most recently, rebooted…yet again…with a new cast playing the same old characters.

And not only that…but characters just keep getting second chances as well. First Spock, everyone’s favorite Vulcan who was killed off in Star Trek 2 only to resurface and come back to life in Star Trek 3. The same sort of thing has happened with other minor or secondary characters throughout the various iterations…and most recently, even the famous Captain James…T…Kirk was killed off towards the end of the newest movie…only to be miraculously brought back to life in the closing moments of the film.

But with all these different ways of killing off characters and closing out various series or movie timelines within the Star Trek universe…I find myself reminded of everyone’s favorite science fiction physician…Doctor Leonard McCoy…and one of his famous catch phrases…Whenever there’s a medical emergency in the shows or the movies and some secondary character get’s sacrificed for the sake of drama…Dr McCoy, or Bones as he’s commonly called…takes a quick look at the victim, only to turn his head towards the captain and utter in his gruff growl…He’s dead Jim.

Now perhaps it’s a little strange to even begin to consider a fictional character from the 24th century here during worship…but honestly, ever since our Good Friday service, I’ve been picturing the characters from Star Trek showing up in Jerusalem 2000 years ago, and witnessing the events that led up to Jesus’ crucifixion on the cross. And in true Star Trek fashion, when Jesus was taken down off that cross, I’ve been picturing Bones walking up to his body, taking a quick look…and then confirming…He’s dead Jim.

Make no mistake…on Good Friday…while hanging on that cross…Jesus Christ…Jesus of Nazareth…the Beloved only Begotten Son of God the father…God Himself in human form…died. (pause) He died, and he was in the tomb…buried from late Friday afternoon, through the Jewish Sabbath on Saturday, through the night and to the dawn on Sunday…the first day of the week.

And all Star Trek kidding aside, that is exactly where we pick up in today’s Gospel lesson…its dawn on Sunday…and we find Mary Magdalene and the other Mary…or Mary squared as I like to call them…heading towards the tomb with a heavy task in front of them…to complete the anointing of Jesus body which will remain in the tomb. There wasn’t time to do it before sundown on Friday when the Sabbath began…and it was forbidden during the Sabbath, so this was their first opportunity to do so.

Make no mistake…the two women weren’t expecting anything miraculous…because Jesus is dead. Its done…its over…but out of their love for him, they desire to honor him in death with a proper burial…they’ve waited…they’ve followed the rules…but now its time to complete the story of his life, by finishing up the details in his death…or so they think.

Now…let’s step away from the narrative for just a moment and think about this whole deal. Jesus is dead…no question about it…life has left his body…he is no more. And if that’s the case…then I could ask the question of just what are you doing here today? Sure he was a holy man…he was a great teacher…he was able to perform miraculous healings…even recalling people from death…but just like all the prophets before him…he died…period…end of story right? Jesus is dead…so what else is there to say? (pause)

But you know what…if that was case…then just what have people been talking about for the last 2000 years? Some holy man that had his 15 minutes of fame and then he died? Hardly seems worth the effort doesn’t it? Hardly seems like something of any passing interest within conversation…I mean, if he really is dead…right? (pause)

But is he? Coming back to the story it sure seems like it…it sure seems like he’s dead…right up until the point…where it doesn’t anymore. (pause) And as the two women approach the tomb…they experience and earthquake as an angel…bright as lighting splitting the sky on a dark night…appears and shoves the stone out of the way…even going so far as to sitting on it.

Surely this must have been terrifying to behold because the guards that are there, hit the ground like dead men…but not the women…as they stand trembling…trying to understand just what it is that they’re seeing…the angel speaks up with a statement that turns this whole dead Jesus thing right on its ear…I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified…come on Mr Angel…you might as well be saying I know you’re looking for a dead guy…BUT…He is not here. (pause)

Say what Mr Angel…what do you mean he’s not here…Jesus is dead…and this is where they laid him…we watched them push that big stone in front of the door and it hasn’t moved until just now when you shoved it over…so what you mean he’s not here. Where is he Mr Angel? (pause) Well ladies…that is an excellent question with a very simple answer…He is not here…for he…has…been…raised. (pause)

Jesus is not dead…hold on…can that really be? Jesus…is NOT…dead…he was dead…but now he’s not dead…well holy cow people…this is a big deal. Because like we said before…if Jesus is dead…then there just isn’t much to talk about is there? But if he’s not dead anymore…well that startles me…and it makes me want to perk up and pay attention…because you know what…if Jesus isn’t dead anymore, then that changes…everything. (pause)

But how can this be? Even if he predict it…He was dead…there’s no coming back from that…never has been before him…but it seems…that through Jesus…now there is…coming back from it…There is a way to come back from death…death it seems no longer has the last word…God does…So if Jesus isn’t dead anymore…well you know what…that really something…something worth talking about…something worth celebrating…something worth rejoicing in…and something worth telling other people about.

And that right there…is exactly what happens in the story. Did you notice that Mary squared never actually went in the tomb? Did you notice that? They stood there…looking at this lightning bolt of an angel…and listening to his words…Go quickly and tell his disciples that he…has…been…raised from the dead…and not only that…but tell them that he has gone on ahead of them to Galilee and THERE…you will see him.

Interesting command for the women isn’t it? They’ve just heard the news that Jesus isn’t dead anymore…they haven’t seen anything to confirm it…they’ve just heard the testimony that Jesus isn’t dead anymore…and they set off to tell people about it. (pause)

And then…only then…only when they’ve set off to follow the command to tell others very simply that Jesus isn’t dead…only then does Jesus pop up…only then, when they are on their way do they truly encounter the risen Lord…and he gives them the exact same command…Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee…there they will see me.

And you know what…we’re starting see a bit of a pattern here…because the women, after they worship Jesus for a moment…head on off and find the disciples…and they tell them exactly what the angel and what Jesus said to tell them…and the disciples…just a few verses after today’s reading…do exactly that…they follow the direction to go…and they head off to Galilee and there…just as promised…when they have gone on with nothing more than the proclamation that Jesus isn’t dead anymore…then they too encounter Jesus…and once more…he sends them on with another mission…Go therefore and make disciples of all nations…baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

Did you catch the pattern there? We hear the proclamation…the very simple and yet very profound proclamation that Jesus Christ is no longer dead…he was dead…but now he’s not…he is risen…and we are sent to tell others that simple fact…and when we follow that command to go and tell…that’s when we encounter Jesus…the risen Lord…who proves beyond the shadow of a doubt that we have a God who can…and does create new life out of death…and that is worth rejoicing.

And so today…on this most special day when Jesus is raised from the tomb…when Jesus…is no longer dead, but has been raised to new life, I ask you to search your own lives for signs of death…because we all carry them. Perhaps it is a disease…or a broken relationship…perhaps it is a lost job…or insufficient income to make ends meet…you know where there is death in your lives…you know it better than anyone…except for God…because he see’s the signs of death even before we do…but this same God has the ability to create new life out of death…and though it may occur in unexpected ways…it does occur…and just as a great earthquake shook the ground and opened the tomb…Jesus Christ lives as a testament to the radical, earthshattering ways that God can and does create new life…for each and every one us.

And so today…on this holiest of days…I say this…for our sake, last Friday, Jesus of Nazareth…God’s beloved Son willingly took the cross…taking upon himself every sin of every person across time…so that we no longer must fall victim to the truth that the wages of our sin equals our death…he paid that price for us…and make no mistake…Jesus was dead.

But now…today…Easter Sunday…Jesus…isn’t dead anymore. He is risen…He is risen indeed. Hallelujah. Amen.