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Why are you here

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Why are you here?

Luke 24:1-12

Easter Sunday ~ April 8, 2007

He is risen! He is risen indeed!

Today we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the grave. Every Sunday is a little Easter but today we pull out all the stops and celebrate the joy we have in Jesus Christ. The tomb is empty and Jesus is alive.

But why are you here? Why are you in this place this morning? A similar question asked of the women who came to the empty tomb but a question we need to ask ourselves today. Are you here because it is a good thing to do? Are you here because your family expects you to be here? Are you here because you felt guilty for not being in church for a long time? Are you here because you are curious about what we are celebrating today? There are a variety of reasons why you may be here today – some positive and maybe some negative. But whatever the reason today is the day to hear the message of Jesus resurrection from the dead.

When I was in middle school and high school (I can’t remember the exact year) there was a show that was popular on TV with many male teens. It was certainly popular with me. It was called “Miami Vice.” It was popular mainly because it had two stars who were “cool” and set the trend for dress for many years. So I got it in my mind that one year for Easter I was going to dress like the stars on “Miami Vice.” I was going to wear the white linen sports jacket with the kaki pants and open air shoes. I even convinced my parents that this would be a good outfit because it was light in color, good Easter colors. So this year I was going to be “cool” for Easter.

I strutted into church in my “cool” outfit hoping I would be noticed and people would think how great I looked. I wanted to be noticed and I wanted people to think well of me. I was coming to Easter this year as one who wanted the attention on me. As is the tradition at many churches, we had an Easter breakfast. I remember that we were going to go to breakfast first and then to church. I walked into our basement fellowship hall with my head held high. After getting my breakfast I sat down to eat and during the course of eating I spilled syrup on my outfit. Remember, this is a light colored outfit. What was I going to do? Instead of being noticed I wanted to crawl under a rock and hide. It wasn’t going to look cool with syrup on my pants!

Maybe it was in God’s infinite wisdom to humble me that day. I wasn’t going to worship for the right reasons and I was too focused on myself. Too often pride gets in the way of our truly seeing what is important. Peter fell into this trap too. Peter was always the first to answer and always proud that he was going to follow Jesus wherever He went. Yet, on the night Jesus was betrayed, while Peter stood outside the trail, he denied Jesus three times. Pride got in the way and he didn’t want to look “bad” before the crowd. He was focused on saving his own skin and not on what was taking place. And the guilt and shame brought Peter down. After realizing that what Jesus said had come true and Peter had denied knowing Him, he ran away weeping. I can only imaging what was going through Peter’s mind that Friday after Jesus death and Saturday as Jesus’ body was in the tomb. The despair and guilt and shame Peter felt must have been overwhelming. What had he done, or not done? He had placed his pride about Jesus.

And then on Easter morning everything changed. The story wasn’t about Peter but it would affect Peter and the whole world. Early in the morning the women came to the tomb to give Jesus a proper burial since they couldn’t, by law, on the Sabbath. I am sure many questions and fears were on there minds. Would the Roman soldiers still be there and prevent them from going into the tomb? Would there be a crowd of people to deal with? Who would roll away the large stone? What condition would Jesus’ body be in? All these things and others were on their minds. The last thing on their mind was that the tomb would be empty. And yet that is what they encountered. And not only have an empty tomb of Jesus body but also one that had some heavenly guests. These messengers then question the women – “why are you here?” They remind the women of what Jesus had told them that the tomb would not hold Jesus but three days later He would rise from the dead. The story wasn’t ending the way we would think as humans. Jesus wasn’t going to stay in the grave. God was turning the world upside down and the message wasn’t about us humans and our pride, but it was about Jesus and His victory over sin, death and the power of the devil.

Easter is not about us, as much as we would like it to be at times. Easter is not even about our motivation for coming. Easter is about Jesus and his resurrection victory. While Easter is not about us it does change our lives. When we hear the story and encounter God’s great love for us, even in spite of our pride and arrogance, it changes everything and changes us.

Peter, who allowed his pride get the best of him, and who was no doubt grieving over the whole situation, is now seen in our story to be the one who ran to the tomb first and marveled at the empty tomb. Later, when Peter sees the risen Lord he will be forgiven of his denial. The whole story changes. It wasn’t about Peter and his failure. It was about Jesus and his victory over sin, death, and the devil. And this makes all the difference in the world. The resurrection of Jesus is at the heart of God’s plan of salvation for us and it is the very thing that gives us hope.

This Easter is different for my family since my grandmother passed away on Maundy Thursday. And while we grieve that she had died we also rejoice that she is in heaven celebrating Easter with her risen Lord and Savior. That changes everything. We have hope and comfort and peace, not because we are something in and of ourselves but because of Jesus and his conquering death. As Paul says Jesus is the firstborn from the dead and that through His resurrection we have new life.

So, whatever reason you came here today, we are glad you came. Hear the story again that our hope, our salvation, our victory has been won for us through Jesus. It is not about us, but about Jesus. It is not about us, but it has changed our lives forever. He is risen! He has risen indeed! Alleluia! Amen

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