Faithlife Sermons

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I don’t know where they have put him
Oh my soul,… be prepared for him who knows how to ask questions.
– T.S. Eliot
Is why Egyptians put up pyramids
“Jesus is the answer,” as the oft-quoted expression goes.
He alone can answer our most pressing questions.
The same goes for our problems.
God is there to do what we cannot do for ourselves.
According to this way of looking at faith, however, the Easter story doesn’t quite measure up.
The Jesus who is betrayed, suffers, dies, and rises again offers little in the way of easy answers.
In terms of questions, however, he has plenty.
Questions he may well still be asking us.
Seems that this is the conclusion that everyone jumped to when Jesus rose
Why are you bothering her? () A woman deeply moved comes to Jesus and pours a jar of expensive perfume on his head.
Indignant at the waste, Jesus’ disciples rebuke her in the name of the poor.
But Jesus tells them that she has done a beautiful thing, and that there will always be opportunities to help those in need.
How else could they explain it?
How many of us are exactly like the disciples, pragmatic do-gooders?
We’re more interested in the poor, the need of the world, the causes of peace and justice, than in Jesus himself.
Like Martha, we run around doing good things but fail to sit, as Mary did, at the feet of the Master and listen to what he is saying.
We would rather help the poor “out there” than be with Jesus who is with us right here, in “the least of these, my brethren.”
The disciples want to do a “good thing.”
But the woman, alone did the beautiful thing.
The tomb had been sealed and a guard posted
If we are honest, most of us believe more in our good works than in our good Master.
But Easter is not about what we can do for God, but about what he has done and continues to do for us.
Ultimately, it is we, not God, who are in need.
The disciples didn’t understand that Jesus, the poorest of the poor, became poor so that we, who are beggarly poor, might become rich ().
The woman anointed Jesus because she sensed that his death meant life – new life.
This is the Gospel, and thus “what this woman has done will always be told.”
What will be said of you?
How precious is Jesus’ death to you? Enough to pour out everything you have?
but now it was open and empty.
What could have happened
Are you still sleeping?
() Jesus takes Peter, James, and John to be with him alone in his darkest hour.
His soul is overwhelmed with sorrow, even to the point of death.
“Stay here and keep watch with me,” he tells them.
But Jesus finds his disciples asleep.
“Can’t you keep watch with me for even one hour?”
You don’t just go in to a tomb and move a body out to another tomb
The only explanation is tomb robbery
From a human point of view it seems that Jesus expects too much.
He himself admits that the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.
He knows that we have our limits.
But he also has no time for excuses: “Enough.
The hour has come.”
How many times do we rationalize away our weaknesses, in the name of being human, and thereby miss the critical moment—God’s hour?
God’s hour always comes when we are least ready for it.
Temptation does not wait until we are strong; it stalks us when and where we are most vulnerable.
But it also comes at just the time when God’s redemptive love is about to break in, when God is about to be victorious.
“They have taken the Lord out of the tomb and we don’t know where they have put him”
Peter and John have a foot race to the tomb
To watch and pray is more than a discipline – it’s a gift, an opportunity.
More importantly, it is a matter of feeling what is at hand, of how God is at work.
To keep watch is to partake in Christ’s struggle over evil in this world.
Jesus invites us to be with him in this battle, and in his weakness he beckons us to win through to that place where we can accept God’s will for our lives – unconditionally.
The garden of Gethsemane is not a place of gloom, but of freedom.
To be alone, before God, when the forces of evil are mounting, is our strength.
But we can opt to rest.
We can give in to the flesh, float along with the current of what is natural and normal.
We can fail to keep watch with Jesus.
It’s up to us whether to sleep or stand guard.
Why have you forsaken me? () The unfathomable, the unmentionable, the unanswerable question, the outrageous agony of despair that cries out from Jesus’ parched lips: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
The one who fulfilled all righteousness – abandoned by the God of righteousness!
A mystery, but also a question for you and me.
Why have we forsaken Jesus?
Are we in denial, like Peter and the rest the disciples who insisted they would never disown their master?
John stops and doesn’t go in, perhaps for fear of contamination
Peter goes in and studies the situation without understanding
But we are the disciples, each one of us.
We may insist differently, but don’t we deny Jesus all the same?
Again and again, we pledge our allegiance to Jesus, make promises to follow him, to do better, but then stumble, fall, fail, and forsake him.
When our faith is challenged, when our reputation or image is at stake, when our security or success is threatened, when we lower our principles just a notch, when we take our cues from the world instead of from God, when we stand in judgment of others, don’t we abandon our Lord?
Peter denied Jesus three times.
How many times do we?
Why are you crying?
() Why does Jesus ask such a question, a man himself acquainted with sorrows?
Can’t he see my pain?
And what about suffering of others?
The suffering of a woman whose child has been raped and mutilated by soldiers?
A child who can’t understand why she’s been abandoned and abused?
The mentally tormented, imprisoned in an endless cycle of medications and programs that seem to only perpetuate the hell they are in?
Yes, God knows it all, and cries with us.
Jesus weeps for Lazarus, for Jerusalem, for us.
But his tears are different – they are not for himself, but for the world.
His tears transform our pain.
“Mary,” Jesus says.
Jesus knows Mary’s name and ours as well.
He is Immanuel – God with us.
Our tears are his.
For John, the light starts to go on .
He goes in and sees—it means he not only sees with his eyes, he understands in his head what happened
So, why are you crying?
Jesus tells us that those who mourn shall be comforted.
But this is so only if our sorrow points us beyond our own pain to the sin and suffering of the whole world.
He lifts us beyond ourselves, not by wiping away our tears, which he will do on the Last Day, but by pointing us back to the agony he suffered for us.
His tears seek to move us to repentance, away from bitterness and self-pity.
His tears cleanse us, and if we allow them, to move us to compassion.
“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way fulfill the law of Christ,” says Paul.
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