Summary: The first Easter Sunday was the day that changed the lives of Jesus’ disciples. I can remember the day that changed my life. Could today be the day that changes your life?

Matthew 28: 1-15

Q: Who can tell me how old Jesus was when he died on the cross? A: He was about 33 years old.

Q: Who knows how long I have got left? OK, perhaps I should rephrase that one! Who knows how long I have got left until I shut up and sit down?

A: About 10 minutes. Now of course there will be one or two of you out there who will be checking your watches. 10 minutes is a guess, but I can promise that I will shut up and sit down this morning!

Q: Who knows how long I have got left until my last Sunday at St. Thomas’s? A: Five weeks. There are more details about that in the newsletter, but if you could avoid the very real temptation of now looking at the newsletter I would be so grateful!

Q: Who knows how long I have got left until I die and go to be with Jesus? A: God knows. I don’t.

When Jesus entered Jerusalem riding a donkey, welcomed by crowds of people excited to see him, they did not think for a minute that he had 5 days left.

We call that event Palm Sunday. We celebrated it 7 days ago. Two days ago we remembered the crucifixion of Jesus. Today we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus.

As a boy I was taught lots of Bible stories. I loved a story about a young lad called David. With God’s help he was able to defeat a mighty, giant warrior called Goliath. Another favourite was Jesus being aware that crowds of people were following him and they were hungry. They had no food and so Jesus took 5 loaves and two fish, gave thanks to God, and fed 5000 men plus women, plus children. I enjoyed the stories, but when I was 8 years old that’s all they were, stories. Life went on, and I got older (as you do); but on 15 October 1985 at about 9.30pm, and that’s about 20½ years ago (give or take a day), something happened which changed my life forever. Has anything ever happened to you to change your life forever?

Almost four weeks ago, on 20 March, I had an appointment. At 2pm on Monday 20 March 2006 I found myself entering number 10 Downing Street because I had an appointment with the Lord Chancellor’s Department. I had been through various security checks and there I was going through the door. After waiting on a sofa for a few minutes I was collected by a secretary who took my up a lift and along some corridors. Just before we got to our destination she said quietly, “Look behind you now.” I turned around and for about 2 seconds I stared into the eyes of our Prime Minister, Tony Blair. Feeling slightly strange, I continued on my way and along another corridor to my appointment; and I can honestly say that gazing into Tony Blair’s eyes has made absolutely no difference whatsoever to my life.

The 15 October 1985 was the day that changed my life. I realized that the stories in the Bible actually happened and my heart was filled with joy!

As well as the Mother of Jesus, there are lots of other women called ‘Mary’ in the Bible. Two of these other ‘Mary’s’ were there when Jesus died on the cross (Matthew 27: 56). They also saw Jesus’ body taken to a tomb, and they saw a big stone rolled in front (Matthew 27: 61). I’m guessing that when they saw Jesus dead and buried they were thinking their lives were ruined forever. Have you ever felt like that? Are you feeling that way today?

On that first Easter day, very early in the morning, the two ‘Mary’s’ were “filled with joy” (Matthew 28: 8)! The two ‘Mary’s’ met with the risen Lord Jesus Christ and he spoke to them (Matthew 28: 9-10)! That was the day that changed their lives forever. Jesus was dead. Jesus was buried; but now Jesus was alive! Life could never be the same again.

You might be thinking, “OK, that’s the story, but did it really happen?”

Well, it’s an accepted historical fact that many of Jesus’ friends insisted that it did. Many of Jesus’ friends insisted that they themselves met with Jesus, alive, risen from the dead, for 40 days before he was taken up into heaven. It’s also an accepted historical fact that many of Jesus’ friends continued to insist that Jesus had risen from the dead, even when they themselves were being crucified. Surely, they would have changed their story if their story was made up; but it was not made up. Jesus had risen from the dead. That day changed their lives forever.

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