Summary: Claim the Mystery!
You all know how we start the Easter Service “He is Risen! He is Risen indeed!” Well we’re not going to do that today.
He was dead! He was dead indeed! They had seen him beaten. They had seen him crucified. They had seen him buried. He was dead! And with him died all of their dreams, all of their hopes, everything they believed in.
They had given everything to this man Jesus, their past, their present even their future, and up until three days ago it seemed like a pretty good bargain. All he had asked was that they faith in a mystery. And for the most part they did. After all they had seen the impossible. They had seen blind men see. They had seen lame men walk. They believed with all their hearts in the things they could actually see.
But not any more. Now their beliefs were as dead as their master. There was nothing to do but go home. To leave their hopes to leave their dreams and just go home. He was dead!
Unless, unless it was true what Mary had seen. She had seen an empty tomb. She had seen unoccupied grave clothes. She had seen two men in dazzling robes asking her “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen.”
If that were the case then he wasn’t dead, he would be alive. If he was alive then everything was going to be all right! Their hopes and dreams would be restored.
So here’s the dilemma we face on this Easter Morning—He is dead! Therefore our beliefs are dead. Our hope and dreams are shattered and we might as well just go home.
Or what Mary reports in today’s gospel reading is true. He is risen! He is risen indeed. And everything is going to be all right! Our hopes and dreams can be restored, or resurrected if you may.
When I was attending Western Kentucky some 33 years ago, I remember having a science professor who was slightly left of center. Anyway, it was right before Easter and spring break. A student asked the professor what he was doing over Easter. Well, you’ve heard of Christmas—ba—hum—bug; he responded basically in the same manner. He said, the Easter story is nothing but a myth. There is no God and there’s no way a person rises from the dead!
A young female student who normally was very quite, replied, “Sir, I not only believe in God, I believe in the resurrection.”
The professor replied, you can believe whatever you wish. However, the real world excludes the possibility of miracles such as the resurrection. It is a scientific impossibility. No one who believes in miracles can respect science.
To prove his point the professor went to the refrigerator where he kept all the lab experiments, and pulled out a raw egg. He stood on the desk and said, “I’m going to drop this egg on the floor. Science will prove that gravity will pull it to the floor and egg will break.
Now I give you a challenge in your so-called faith. I want you to say a prayer right now and ask the God you believe in to keep this egg from breaking when it hits the floor. If God can break the rules of science then you’ll have proven your point. If not I will have proven my point, and students that what life and science is about—prove your point!
This shy girl stood up and began to pray, “Dear Heavenly Father, I pray that when my professor drops the egg you will prove that you gave us science and make this egg break into a hundred pieces. Dear Lord I also pray that when the egg does break, my professor will have a heart attack and die.
Our jaws dropped! Now what? Nobody laughed. Nobody said anything. We just waited. For a moment the professor did nothing. He stared at the girl, then the egg, and without a word he carefully put the egg back into the refrigerator and said with disgust, “Class dismissed!”
That day, not only did I learn a great science lesson but a great life lesson as well. The professor apparently believed in God’s existence more than he thought, because he was not willing to bet his life that God didn’t exist.
But you know that the way the whole world is? I read somewhere that 99% of all human beings believe in God or a Higher Power—the other 1% are lying. But when it comes to the resurrection of Jesus the numbers go down dramatically, and most have their doubts.
What if I told that today, right here, right now I am going to prove beyond a shadow of doubt that Jesus Christ has risen from the dead. You are going to leave the confines of this building and you will know once and for all, no questions, no doubts.