Summary: The women discovered an empty tomb. The implications of their discovery changed their lives and ours forever.
Mathew 28: 1-10 “A Life Changing Discovery”
What would your list consist of if I were to ask you to name some of the greatest discoveries of history? This would be a list of discoveries that changed our lives. My list would include: A sun centered solar system—Copernicus, 1543; Anesthesia, 1847; The light bulb, Thomas Edison 1880; Theory of relativity, Einstein 1905; Penicillin, 1920’s; DNA 1953, James Watson and Francis Crick; the computer, 1950’s; The genome project 2003—and of course chocolate.
All of these discoveries—as great as they may be—pale in comparison to the discovery made by the two Mary’s on that first Easter morning a little over two millennia ago.
The two Marys, Mary, the mother of Jesus, and Mary Magdalene, got up early in the morning and went to the tomb. At the tomb, they witness an earthquake, an angel descending from heaven and rolling back the tomb, and the soldiers fainting in fear. The angel told them that Jesus had been raised, and sent the two women to tell the disciples that Jesus would meet them in Galilee. While running to running they encountered a resurrected Jesus. They grab hold of his body (he wasn’t a ghost) and they worship him. Their discovery—that Jesus had been raised from the dead—changed the world.
The Church has been given a bad rep lately. What started off as preaching a gospel of love and peace turned into the Crusades and the Inquisition. Wars have been fought in the name of Jesus: the Thirty Years War, in England the war between the Roman Catholics and the Anglicans, and the Protestants and Roman Catholics in Ireland. The Church has been self-righteous and judgmental. Amen to all of this. It is true. The Church is made up of fallible humans.
At the same time, the Lord has used his followers to accomplish great things. We have started universities and hospitals. Christians were the first to care for the sick and dying—even at the risk of their own lives. We have spread the gospel to the four corners of the world and with the gospel we have brought modern medicine, and education. Faith based communities are used to reach out to the poor and needy in this great country of the United States—the homeless, the poor and hungry, the battered and abused, the unwanted and the marginalized. The Church was there after Katrina, the tsunami in Indonesia/Asia, the earthquake in Haiti, and in the drought stricken areas of Africa. The world has been changed by people whose lives have been changed by the discovery of the empty tomb and the realization that Jesus conquered death. But, the greatest changes occur in the lives of people who encounter this living Jesus.
Modern medicine, psychiatry, and psychology cannot take away the pain, guilt and shame that well up within us as we struggle with the dark sides of our lives. The gospel of Jesus—that there is a God who loves us—unconditionally, and forgives us—completely breaks the chains of guilt and shame and sets us free.
Science and technology cannot answer those fundamental questions of life, “Who am I,” and “Why am I here?” In the living Jesus, we realize that we are children of God, created as unique and special individuals, who are given talents and abilities so that we can serve God by serving others.
None of the discoveries of the world can take away the basic fear of death that is in us all. Jesus has conquered death, however, and he has taken away its sting. This truth comforts us in our grief over the loss of our loved ones, gives us hope in the face of death, and also a new perspective on life that allows us to live abundantly no matter what our physical circumstances.
It is the living Jesus that breaks us out of our self-centered, selfish existences, and inspires us to live beyond ourselves. We realize that there is more to life that achievements, then power, prestige, comfort, and security. There is the overcoming power of love—people who have been loved loving others.
We sing, “He lives, he lives, Christ Jesus lives today.” This is not a mere historical fact. It is the proclamation of a life changing truth. Jesus lives and calls us to follow him. This living Jesus empowers us with faith, hope and love.
Come, let’s follow this living Jesus and see where he leads us.