Summary: A sermon for Easter Sunday.
"24 Hours that Changed the World: Christ the Victor"
It's not a mistake, the way the author of Mark's Gospel begins chapter 16.
He says very clearly that "Mary Magdalene, Mary the Mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they could go and anoint Jesus' dead body."
They weren't looking for a Resurrected Savior.
They had come, mournfully looking for a dead man.
There isn't much hope to be found in a dead body.
There isn't much of a future to be found in a dead body.
Going to a grave, is really, in many ways, only a backward looking thing.
It is a time to remember the good times.
To pay your respects to the one you love and spent so much time with.
And, especially immediately following a gruesome and violent execution, as is what took place in the case of Jesus--for Mary Magdalene and the other women, it was a time of shock, dread, terrible pain, hopelessness and despair.
And so the women came looking for a dead man.
When we come to church this Easter morning, do we come looking for a dead man?
Do we expect to hear stories about a Jesus Who was a great teacher...
...a Jesus from the past Who loved people, taught us how to live, was terribly misunderstood and killed because of His convictions...
...but nothing much else?
Or do we come looking for the Living God?
There can be no doubt that much of what is happening in our world is frightening.
Several years ago Time magazine ran a cover story that carried this headline: "Be Worried. Be very Worried!"
We live in a time when the threat of terrorism is very real.
We live in a time when seemingly unstable governments are acquiring nuclear weapons and are threatening to use them.
We also have a global economic crisis in our world.
Sure, the rich are getting richer but most of the rest of us are getting poorer.
What does the future hold for you and for your children?
And life, well, it is so short.
Time flies like a flash in a pan.
It seems as if at one moment you are a teenager and the next you are about ready to retire.
What are we to make of this?
Is there any hope?
Or is this all there is?
So, on that first Easter morning, the women went looking for a dead Jesus.
And if that were all there is...just a dead Jesus...
...then this life would be completely devoid of all meaning and hope.
In John's telling of the scene at the tomb of Jesus, we are told that after Mary saw that Jesus' dead body was no longer in the tomb, she ran to tell Peter and John.
And when Peter and John got there they saw the linen cloths that Jesus' body had been wrapped in and nothing else.
We're also told that Peter "saw the face cloth that had been on Jesus' head. It wasn't with the other clothes but was folded up in its own place."
It makes sense, you know.
If you had a face cloth covering your head, wouldn't you take it off first and lay it down by itself.
Then, as you got up, wouldn't you unwind, pull and kick off the rest of the linen wrappings--leaving them in a heap somewhere down where your feet had rested?
The living body of Jesus was gone; only the telltale laundry was left to show Jesus' first actions when He was raised from the dead.
Anyhow, Peter and John see the dirty laundry and then head back to the place they were staying.
How many piles of dirty laundry are really angels, wanting to deliver us Easter messages?
John tells us that, "Mary stood outside near the tomb crying.
As she cried, she bent down to look into the tomb.
She saw two angels dressed in white, seated where the body of Jesus had been, one at the head and one at the foot."
We might ask ourselves why Mary saw what was really there at the head and feet of where Jesus' body had lain?
Sure, Peter and John saw that the first thing Jesus did after He was raised from the dead was to fold the face cloth that had been on His head--His momma had taught Him well...
...but what Mary saw where two angels.
At a time in history when Women were not considered to be credible witnesses, when their testimony was suspicious at best...if you were writing about the events surrounding Jesus' Resurrection wouldn't it have been tempting to have Mary see the dirty laundry and Peter and John see the angels?
But that is not the way it happened, and so the Gospels tell us the truth.