I wanted to start off today by once again hoping for nothing less than a very happy and blessed Easter day today. My prayer is that no matter how special or ordinary your day is today that you feel and experience the joy of the risen Christ in your hearts and in your lives. The celebration of Easter doesn’t just happen here in worship but it extends out of this worship space and includes you and me and this whole world no matter where we are after we leave here this morning. That thought may not always cross our minds or stay in the forefront of what happens the rest of the day, but it is very much the truth of the day and of the promises that God makes to us through Jesus Christ.
In fact if we take a look at our Easter story today from Mark, you may notice that the Mary’s and Salome didn’t expect anything special about that day either. The three women come to the tomb with the intention of anointing the dead body of Jesus. The idea of the anointing was to hide the odor of the body, but it was more importantly done so that they could honor him sine he had passed away. The women were so lost in their grief that it doesn’t seem to occur to them that Jesus had made prophecies, or promises, to them and the other disciples that he would suffer, die, AND rise again. They seemed to understand and comprehend the idea of suffering and dying since it was all too real to them, but for whatever reason they were unable to focus on or comprehend the idea that he also said he would rise again. Isn’t it interesting how, in certain ways, human nature never changes? We focus in on certain ideas or concepts or even promises but sometimes we are unable to follow everything that was said or promised.
In fact, the women are so caught up in their grief, and they were specifically talking about how these three women were going to roll away the giant stone that was placed in front of the tomb, that it wasn’t until they had walked all the way up to the tomb that they noticed that the stone had been rolled away. Their sorrow had placed blinders on them that they couldn’t even see the fact that a the stone was no longer in front of the tomb. Of course it may be no different than going to the fridge, opening it up looking for the creamer for your coffee and not seeing it anywhere. So then you shut the fridge and look in the trash to see if someone else used it all up. The creamer isn’t in the trash. In the meantime someone else goes into the fridge and opens the door and as soon as they open it up they immediately pull out the creamer and proceed to pour it into their coffee cup. Now you swear thirty seconds ago that creamer was NOT in the fridge but there it is right in front of you as plain as day. It’s a miracle! I’m sure you’ve all experienced something like that before.
Now we might blame the inability to find the creamer on the lack of coffee in the morning and maybe the women at the tomb did as well because our text does say that they were at the tomb very early as the sun had risen. The fact of the matter remains that for some reason we miss obvious things and even when someone says something is going to happen we don’t always remember or recognize when it actually does happen, or we are surprised that the person actually followed through with it.
For a while now Bekkah and I have been working on getting Aubreigh to sleep in her bed all night. I’m sure every parent knows the excitement of being woken up in the middle of the night to a child who wants to climb into your bed at the late hours of night and early hours of the morning. It wasn’t too bad to start but Aubreigh has the uncanny ability to literally and figuratively kick me out of bed. I either get kicked so much that I just leave the bed, or she ends up sleeping perpendicular to the way you should sleep on the bed and there ends up being no room for me. So, like I said, we have been working on getting her to sleep in her own bed. One of the promises we made to her a while ago was that if she slept in her bed 3 nights in a row then we would get her a Frozen chapter book so that we could read the next book in the series of Frozen chapter books that she enjoys. Unfortunately it didn’t not happen the first three nights after we made that promise to her, but it did eventually happen. She slept in her bed for three nights in a row. So that next night we put the new chapter book on her bed when she was in the bathroom doing her nighttime routine. When she came into her bedroom she looked at the book and smirked at us and asked us why there was a new chapter book on her bed. We reminded her that if she slept in her bed for three nights in a row we’d get her the next book and read it with her. She then got really excited and then she remembered the promise we made to her about it and we read the first chapter of her new Frozen book.
Now I don’t know if it’s because it took a while to get from promise to sleeping in her bed for three nights that she forgot, or what it was, but she truly had forgotten about it until we reminded her of what we said we were going to do we did. Like I said, it’s human nature. We forget or we hear it but we might not fully believe that what that person is telling us is the truth or not.
The same thing happens for Jesus and the disciples. And I’m not talking about just the twelve because we clearly see in today’s text that it is also these three women who also don’t remember or don’t fully believe that what Jesus told them was true. In Mark’s Gospel there are three times where Jesus predicts his suffering, death and resurrection. In , , and in is where we find the times that Jesus tells them these things are going to happen to him. Here is what happens after each one: the first time Peter rebukes him, the second time they don’t understand what he means and they are too afraid to ask him about it, and the third time James and John want to be at his side when he comes into his glory. Perhaps it’s not so hard to understand that when he did finally suffer, die, and rise they don’t understand or don’t believe him.
We actually see that not only do the disciples not understand but they also run away. They leave Jesus and try to find somewhere safe to go so that they do not suffer the same fate as him. What is incredible to me, is that despite everything that happens, despite all the doubt, despite the desertion, despite the inability to understand or to believe Jesus keeps his promise. Jesus is a promise keeper. We see a very simple way that Jesus is a promise keeper by the way that the young man, which we believe to be an angel, tells them that Jesus is going ahead of all of them to Galilee, just as he had told them. In Jesus tells them that after he rises from the dead he will meet them in Galilee even though all of them he says, will desert him. To which Peter denies that he would ever do it. The angel has to once again remind the women and through the women, remind Peter that what he has been telling them is true. That the promises Jesus made are coming true. Jesus is a promise keeper.
Not only is Jesus a promise keeper, but he keeps those promises no matter what it is that we do in our lives. The disciples failed to understand what Jesus was telling them about his death and resurrection. They abandoned him at his greatest time of need, and at the ending of Mark’s Gospel the women are so full of terror and amazement that even though the angel tells them to go and tell the disciples they say nothing to anyone for they were too afraid. The greatest news had just been announced to these women, Jesus had indeed risen from the dead, he was no longer in the tomb, death had not stopped him, and everything he had ever told them was now for them absolute truth, and yet they could not go and do what had been asked of them.
I don’t paint this picture of the women and the disciples lack of ability to grasp the depth and promises of God as a way to bring us down this Easter, but I do it to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that God’s love for this world extends beyond our merit or understanding. Do you remember how I started my sermon today? I said that my hope and prayer was that promise of Easter would extend beyond this morning of worship and beyond this space and that it would extend into your homes whether you are alone or with family? God’s promise is faithful and true. Jesus isn’t just in this place of worship, in this building and the promise of Easter isn’t just for this one time of year. When you go home today or tomorrow. When you get home after a long grueling day of work. When you head to the ordinary and dreary places of life, you must always remember the promise that Jesus fulfilled in today’s text. Remember the words of the angel, “he is going ahead of you” because he is not in the tomb. Jesus is here, and I don’t mean that he is in this church. Jesus is here in this world. Jesus is with you in your car, he is with you in your home, he is with you at school, in the hospital, and everywhere else in this world. He is going ahead of you so that where you are he will also be there. Jesus offers us through his death and resurrection the promise and gift of eternal life with him and God in heaven, but he also promises to us that no matter where we are in life, both physically and emotionally, he is with us no matter what, just as he was for the disciples who followed him all those years ago.
Remember today that Jesus is a promise keeper and that his promises extend to each and every person in this world, including me and including you.