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He is Risen Indeed! (John 20:1-18)

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Sermon shared by David Smith

April 2006
Summary: He is Risen Indeed! (an Easter Sermon) ...
Denomination: Episcopal/Anglican
Audience: Believer adults
Sermon:
It is Easter Day, and here we gather, along with so many other people around the globe, to celebrate that fundamental event which gives birth to the Christian faith - namely, the resurrection of Jesus.

Iíve been celebrating the resurrection of Jesus like this every year at this time for as long as I can remember, so I guess I sort of take for granted that it is an appropriate thing to do this time of year. Iím conscious though that it might not be immediately obvious to everybody in our world why we so passionately celebrate the fact that this man, Jesus, didnít die (or at least didnít stay dead).

ĎSo what?í Some people may say. So what indeed!

I heard that in Japan some confectionary maker tried to capitalise on the Easter season by bringing out chocolate crucifixes, complete with a chocolate Jesus that you could bite into. I donít know whether he went the whole hog and put cherry ripe on the inside, but either way he clearly missed the point.

But what is the point? I donít think itís immediately obvious to the outsider, and certainly the earliest accounts that we have of the resurrection event donít help us to make a lot of sense of it.

If we take the account I read this morning from Johnís Gospel, it doesnít tell us a lot about the resurrection. It doesnít tell us how it happened. It certainly doesnít even tell us why it happened! It just tells us what two of the disciples did - how they ran all the way from their homes to the tomb, how they went in to the grave area and found the clothes lying about in neat piles, and how they then went home, leaving Mary there by herself for some strange reason!

This early resurrection account has often bothered me. Why doesnít it tell us more? Why is it so focused on trivial details about who out-ran who and where the various bits of cloth were found to be lying. And then it occurred to me this year, as I read through it once again. It occurred to me why this resurrection narrative is so unspectacular and filled with odd details. Itís because what we are reading here was originally a performance!

If you read the end of Johnís Gospel, you get quite a clear picture of how they put this book together. It wasnít written by John (the Ďbeloved discipleí) himself, but by his disciples - a small, loyal group of supporters that formed around him, and worshipped and ministered with him through his later years.

John, we believe, was the only one of the twelve disciples that did not meet a brutal and untimely death. John indeed apparently lived to a great age, and in his declining years, when he was riddled with arthritis, it was said that they used to carry him around to meetings and sit him on the floor, where he used to say no more than, Ďlove one another, love one anotherí.

And it wasnít until after John died that his disciples put together a collection of all the stories that heíd told them over the years, and no doubt one of the most often-told stories in the bunch must have been his experience
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