Summary: A sermon for an Easter Sunrise Service.

Matthew 28:1-10

“He Has Risen, Just As He Said”

By: Kenneth Sauer, Pastor of Parkview United Methodist Church, Newport News, VA

Sometime very soon, Jeanne and I will have a new baby girl.

And there will come a time when she is old enough that I will take her to her room, hear her say her prayers, and tuck her in.

And then, just as I am ready to leave the room and turn out the light, suppose that little Mary Ellen tells me that she lives in dread and fear of what might be lurking on the other side of the dark and heavy curtain in the corner of the room.

And that, in the darkness, she can almost see some sinister shape getting ready to emerge and do her harm.

Well! I could leave the room, telling her that her fear is ridiculous—but I’m way too concerned about her peace of mind to do that.

So I go over to the shadowy corner of the room and pull the curtain aside…

…flooding the darkness with light.

Then I smile reassuringly and lovingly at her and say: “See there’s nothing to fear.”

In removing the curtain, I will have removed her fear.

I will have come down to her level so that she can find peace and fall calmly asleep.

We find in our Gospel Lesson this Easter morning that an angel of the Lord rolled away the stone…

…and then…

…told the two Mary’s: “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said.”

Now let’s ask ourselves this question:

“Why did the angel roll away that stone?”

The stone was rolled away, not so that Jesus could get out, but so that the two Mary’s could get in!

The stone was rolled away to give the two Mary’s newfound hope.

The stone was rolled away to give us newfound hope!

Jesus said in John Chapter 11: “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though they may die, they shall live; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.”

Death is the great riddle of life.

It is a mystery. It is one secret of the universe that is kept secret.

And yet, it is one of the rare things that we all have in common.

And it is one of the things that people fear the most.

In Rudyard Kipling’s: “The Jungle Book” Mowgli, the man cub, asks the animals what the most feared thing in the jungle is.

He’s told that when two animals meet on a narrow path that one of the animals must step aside and let the other animal pass.

The animal that steps aside for no one would then be the most feared.

Mowgli wants to know what kind of animal that is?

One tells him it’s an elephant.

Another tells him it’s a lion.

Finally the wise old owl exclaims: “The most feared thing in the jungle is death. It steps aside for no one.”

(this story taken from a sermon by Rev. Michael Luke)

Well, my friends, Welcome to the Jungle!!!

No one is exempt from death.

But, at the same time, when the angel spoke to the two Mary’s, and said “He is not here; he has risen.”…

…It was an announcement that the world had changed and would never be the same!

Christianity begins with the Resurrection.

We are told in Acts: “Why should any of us consider it incredible that God raises the dead?”

Paul tells us in Romans Chapter 8: “And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.”

What a reason to proclaim Hallelujah!!!

God came down to our level.

He became one of us.

So that we might find peace!!!

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.” Jesus tells those who trust in Him: “I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

I don’t think it was any accident that Mary Magdalene was one of the first to experience the Resurrection.

We don’t know a great deal about Mary but we do know this: she was a woman who had been possessed by “seven demons.”

It had been as if Mary was one of the living dead.

Have you ever met someone who seemed like they were the living dead?

Maybe you have been this way, or maybe you feel this way right now.

Life has no luster.

You are just going through the motions—doing whatever you can to eek by.

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