Summary: The day of Jesus resurrection was a day of the unexpected, are we open to the unexpected taht God puts before us so that we might live in understanding of him and by his power?
Easter Sunday, expectations.
I may have mentioned Nikolai Ivanovich Bukharin previously.
But during his day Nikolai was as powerful a man as there was on earth. As Russian Communist leader he took part in the Bolshevik Revolution 1917, was editor of the Soviet newspaper Pravda (which by the way means truth), and was a full member of the Politburo. His works on economics and political science are still read today.
There is a story told about a journey he took from Moscow to Kiev in 1930 to address a huge assembly on the subject of atheism. Addressing the crowd he aimed his heavy artillery at Christianity hurling insults, argument, and proof against it. An hour later he was finished. He looked out at what seemed to be the smouldering ashes of men’s faith. "Are there any questions?" Bukharin demanded. Deafening silence filled the auditorium but then one man approached the platform and mounted the lectern standing near the communist leader. He surveyed the crowd first to the left then to the right. Finally he shouted the ancient greeting known well in the Russian Orthodox Church: "CHRIST IS RISEN!"
On masse the crowd arose as one man and the response came crashing like the sound of thunder:
"HE IS RISEN INDEED!" (http://www.truthorfiction.com/rumors/h/heisrisen.htm#.VR73evyUd6w, sighted 04/04/2014)
The outcome of the speech was not what the communist hardliner expected.
This Easter Sunday, the day we remember Mary Magdalene up before the sun walking to the tomb to embalm the body of Jesus, shocked as she saw the stone rolled away, so she ran to Peter and John, her words, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him.” Both running, John outran Peter, bending over looking into the tomb, seeing the strips of linen Jesus had been wrapped in, on Peter’s arrival he saw the same strips of linen and the cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus head. Peter entered the tomb and finally John entered. He saw and believed, ‘he had risen’. In John’s gospel he states “They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.” Peter and John had not expected this outcome.
The thoroughly broken body of Jesus had been laid in the grave, pierced and ruined, skin stripped off his back during the lashing, hands punctured, the spear thrust into his side, his body drained of life.
Mary came to embalm Jesus body, but where was he. Seeing two angels in white, her eyes full of tears, their question was “Woman why are you crying.” He had risen, still not understanding Mary Magdalene, called back “They have taken my Lord away and I don’t know where they have put him.”
Then Jesus himself spoke, “Woman why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?” thinking he was the gardener she asked, “if it was you who moved him, tell me where he is so that I can tend to his body?” His reply, one word of recognition and respect… her name, “Mary!” not expecting this startled and turning to him in recognition, “Teacher”, …oh how she wanted to hold him… His presence was so unexpected.
That evening, in fear of those who had taken his life, the disciples cowered in fear, with the doors bolted shut Jesus came and stood among them and his words, like a fresh wind to their anguished hearts and minds, bodies suddenly woken from their distress, “Peace be with you!”
This was not the expected outcome…he was risen, he is risen.
When we understand the impact of this one death, the death of Jesus the would be Messiah, who rode into town his kingdom acclaimed just a week before as Israel’s king with Hosanna’s and Psalms, cries blessing and crowning the king who came in the name of the Lord. A few days later who would have expected his death?
This death of Jesus what a defeat! (pause)
Jesus defeated the critic’s, Jesus defeated the Sanhedrin, Jesus defeated the Roman Governor and the Chief Priests, Jesus defeated the cross that he carried the sin of all of us to, Jesus defeated that spear so deeply thrust into his side, Jesus defeated the linen strips that bound him in death and left them there in that place that should have been a place of smoldering decay.
Jesus who conquered sin and death, an unexpected outcome, of course an unexpected outcome, the most unexpected. Our burden of sin was defeated that day, in his death.
When we understand the impact of this death and the love of God as he willingly died in our place, we understand just what we mean to him, that he would go through the worst of deaths so that we would understand his love, his self-sacrificing love, our deserved place taken by his love, his abundant grace love, mercy poured forth on his undeserving yet created in his image rebellious fallen creation, awesome powerful love.