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Summary: An Easter sermon.

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John 20:1-18

“No More Tears”

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

It was Christ’s resurrection that made the Christian Church…

…that transformed a huddle of dispirited and frightened people into that valiant band who were willing to dare anything for the sake of Christ!

It was Christ’s resurrection that brought into being and set in motion this mighty Gospel which has been proclaimed to nearly the entire world and has changed the face of humanity!

And the words of the New Testament itself leap for joy first of all, most of all, and last of all over the empty grave!

The resurrection is the hinge on which the doorway to history swings!!!

It is worth mentioning that the first person to see the risen Christ was a woman.

For one thing, in Jesus’ day, women had absolutely no rights whatsoever….

….Of course, God does not pass judgment on people like we do.

And that sure is a good thing to know!

Mary Magdalene was a woman who Jesus Christ had saved from a life of open and ugly shame.

He had changed her world something fierce!!!

Of her, Christ had said that she loved much because she had been forgiven much.

And she loved Jesus Christ---Who had saved her….

…Jesus Christ…probably the first person to ever treat her like a human being…with her whole soul and being.

So, it’s really not surprising that it was Mary Magdalene who was at the garden “while it was still dark.”

After Mary had found the tomb empty, “the disciples went back to their homes, but Mary stood outside the tomb crying.”

Mary kept searching here and there, not knowing where to search, yet unable to stop searching; and by and by she peeped into the tomb once again…with some idea in her mind that the whole thing was impossible…that it must be some hideous dream!

And it was then that she “saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.”

Sensing that someone was behind her—Mary “turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.

‘Woman,’ he said, ‘why are you crying? Who are you looking for?’

Thinking he was the gardener, she said, ‘Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.’

Jesus said to her, ‘Mary.’

She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, ‘Rabbonni’ (which means teacher).”

Why didn’t Mary recognize Jesus right off?

Well, for one thing, Mary was looking for a dead Jesus…

…but Jesus was not dead—He was alive.

Many of us make this same mistake.

The Christ that many people know lived in Palestine 2,000 years ago.

The record of what He did and taught and suffered moves and impresses them.

In thought, many people often take their stand on Calvary with a very real emotion in their hearts and a new inspiration surging up in them….

But they have had no experience with the risen Lord…and they do not walk with Him day by day.

John Wesley called these people… “The Almost Christian.”

He even has a sermon with that title.

A distinguished leader in the church was writing an Easter sermon…

…when…

…the thought of the risen Lord broke in upon him as it had never done before.

“Christ is alive,” he said to himself; “alive!” and then he paused; ---“alive!”…

… “Can that really be true?…living as really as I myself am?”

He got up and walked around repeating “Christ is living!”, “Christ is living!”…To him it was a new discovery.

He had thought all along that he had believed it; but not until that moment did he feel sure about it.

He then said, “My people shall know it;

I shall preach about it again and again until they believe it as

I do now.”

….the founder of Methodism had a similar experience on Aldersgate Street.

Anyway, back to Mary….

For all her searching, it was not really Mary Magdalene who came upon Christ, but it was Christ who found her!

And that is the normal experience!

That is the whole point of the gospel---that God is seeking us…

…not only when we have lost Him and cannot find our way home to Him again….

…no matter how hard we search….

…but even when we are alienated from God and do not miss Him…

…when we are shamelessly and deliberately rebellious and set upon our own selfish and destructive ways.

Even the wonderful story of the prodigal son is much less than the whole gospel.

Because, after all, the wayward boy considered his ways, and repented, and came home hesitatingly, and by no means sure of the reception he would get…

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