Summary: A sermon for Easter.
“Hope in the Midst of Despair”
When you encounter the living Jesus, in the midst of despair, everything changes.
In our Gospel Lesson for this morning, we are confronted with a rollercoaster of emotions.
Our story begins in darkness.
Mary Magdalene went to the tomb while it was still dark.
What she had experienced and seen on Friday was still blazing through her.
She had watched as Jesus Christ, her Lord and Savior, was beaten, nailed to a Cross and left to bleed and suffocate and eventually die.
His body had been taken down and instead of leaving it for the birds to peck and the dogs to eat, Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus had gone to Pilate and asked for it.
They wrapped it in spices with strips of linen and laid it in a tomb.
Then a large stone was rolled over the entrance—sealing it.
It was the least they could do for a man who had impressed them so.
Saturday was the Sabbath.
The day when no one could do any work.
And what an awful day it must have been for the followers of Jesus.
They had heard Jesus tell them that He would be arrested and killed—but they had never really believed it would actually happen.
It seemed too awful to be true.
After-all, they had dropped everything in order to follow Jesus—their jobs, their dreams, all their plans.
They had been with Him for 3 amazing years.
They had listened to Him talk about God and love in ways that no one had ever talked before.
His outlook on life was one of radical humility and servanthood.
He had fed 5,000 people with a few fish and a couple loaves of bread.
He had healed the sick.
He had raised the dead.
He had made the insane sane.
He had been their hope.
He had been the answer to this puzzle called life.
And now He was dead.
It had happened so fast.
What in the world would they do now?
How could they go on?
Was life even worth living anymore?
Can you imagine the darkness?
Can you imagine the pain?
Can you imagine the feeling of hopelessness and despair?
Perhaps some of you can.
Perhaps some of you are feeling that way this morning.
Or maybe you can relate because you have been there.
Do you remember what it was like?
I think most of us come to a point in our lives when we come face to face with the stark reality of despair.
On Easter morning, Mary Magdalene stood outside of Jesus’ tomb crying.
She had come to mourn and show her respects to the One Who had meant everything in the world to her.
What else could she do?
But when she got there, the stone had been rolled away and the tomb was empty.
How could this be happening?
Just when she thought things couldn’t get any worse…
Someone or some group of someone’s had stolen Jesus’ body.
Most likely she suspected the Romans or the religious leaders who had put Jesus to death.
Wasn’t it enough that they had killed Him?
Was this some kind of a sick joke to them?
How evil can evil get?
When we think about the history of humanity we see over and over again the unimaginable evil that we are capable of—the unimaginable darkness of it all.
But then, there is something else in there as well, is there not?
As Mary wept, she bent down and looked inside the tomb for another look.
And what she saw were two angels inside sitting where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and one at the feet.
The angels ask Mary why she is crying.
“They have taken my Lord away,’ she said, ‘and I don’t know where they have put him.’”
And at this, we are told that she “turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize it was Jesus.”
She wasn’t looking for a Living Jesus.
She was looking for a unrecognizable dead body.
The way Jesus had looked when He had hung on the Cross.
She thought Jesus was the gardener.
The only person she would have expected to see around a tomb early in the morning.
But Jesus called her name.
And when He did, she allowed her eyes to refocus and everything changed!!!
Corrie Ten Boom was arrested at the age of 47 during World War II, along with her elderly father, sister, and other family members for hiding Jews from the Nazis.
They were all sent to a concentration camp.
On the way there her father died.
When they arrived at the camp she, her sister, and many other women were ordered to undress in front of mocking soldiers and sent to the showers.