Holy Week Sunday - He Is Risen, So Go Tell Others
(Account taken from Mark 16, Matthew 28, Luke 24, and John 20)
It's early morning on the 3rd day. The Jewish leaders had set a guard around the tomb. The disciples had gone into hiding for fear of their own lives.
It seems the only ones brave enough to visit the tomb were a few devoted women. But, when they went there to adorn it with spices, they found the stone rolled away (nearly an impossible feat that we find out was accomplished by an angel of the Lord). The guard were so scared that they trembled and apparently froze in their places. It seems Mary Magdalene immediately runs away from the rolled away stone in sorrow to tell the other disciples.
Then the other women walked in the tomb only to find it empty.
There, they saw the angel inside the tomb who told them that Jesus had risen just as he had told them he would so many times.
No one thought death could be defeated, and yet, that was the claim before them, the same claim Jesus had made himself. The women meet Jesus on the way and worship him. Jesus greets them warmly and then tells them to go tell the disciples that he will meet them in Galilee. At first the disciples consider it an "idle tale," perhaps the culture that didn't allow women to be witnesses the time played into their view, which makes the claim of the Bible all the more likely to simply be a retelling of history, not a made up tale in which "unfit" witnesses are the first witnesses.
Mary returns later, still sorrowful, and Peter visits the tomb with John and leaves astounded at what has happened, while John records that this is the moment when he believes the resurrection!
Meanwhile the scared guards run back to the Jews, who subsequently bribe them and tell them to tell everyone that they had fallen asleep and the Jews had come and stolen the body. A huge stone and a huge guard of soldiers, and even death itself could not contain the risen Son of God in whom all the promises of God find their "Yes!"
Finally, while Mary is at the tomb again, she sees Jesus! How happy she is! She believes and she clings to him. And again, she goes and tells the disciples! The case is building. The witnesses are stacking up. This dead Jesus is alive!
Then, Jesus simply continues to appear and prove that he is indeed alive, therefore proving that he is indeed the one worthy of their continued "Hosanna" as the coming King and Savior of the world.
He appears to two disciples on the Road to Emmaus and proclaims himself from all of the Old Testament Scriptures. They don't recognize him until he is gone, but then they realize how "Their hearts had been burning" while he spoke to them. They turn and run miles and miles back to tell the others.
Then he appears to the disciples without Thomas. The disciples are still hiding. Doors locked. Afraid of the Jews. Jesus appears among them and says, "Peace be with you." In his great mercy, he invites them to touch his hands and feet and see that he is indeed alive. Later on he even eats a piece of fish to show that he indeed still fully God and fully man. Death could not hold him and he is not simply a spirit, he is alive again and all the promises and prophecies of God are coming true!
He finally appears to Thomas and again mercifully deals with him by letting him touch his wounds. Jesus continues to appear over and over again, proving without a doubt that he is alive and death could not hold him and that the death he died had certainly paid for the sins of all who would believe in him.
In his last words, before he ascends to heaven. Jesus promises them that the Holy Spirit will be coming to help them. Then he gives them their mission. Go. Make disciples of all nations. Teach them to observe all that I have commanded you. Jesus tells them that all authority has been given to him and that he will be with them in this mission until the end of the age.
That is where we find ourselves now. Between the first and second coming of Christ. Given a great commission. Given the Spirit of God living inside of us. And given all of this with the knowledge that our Savior is alive. Sin has lost its power. Death has lost its sting. And so we are free in the strength of our Risen Savior to go boldly and love the hardest cases and love in the hardest places, making disciples who will worship God in Spirit and in Truth by the Spirit and by the one that is Truth. Jesus died for our sins. And Jesus is alive to help us go out and take the message to save other sinners, until the day he returns. He is risen! He is risen indeed!