Summary: Easter Morning - the Church as a movement
10 Things You Never Hear in Church
1. Hey! It’s my turn to sit in the front pew!
2. I was so enthralled, I never noticed your sermon was 35 minutes long.
3. Personally I find volunteering at church much more enjoyable than watching basketball.
4. I’ve decided to give our church the $500 a month I used to send to TV evangelists.
5. I volunteer to be the permanent teacher for the Junior High Sunday School class.
6. Forget the denominational minimum salary. Let’s pay our pastor so he can live like we do.
7. I love it when we sing hymns I’ve never heard before!
8. Since we’re all here, let’s start the service early.
9. Pastor, we’d like to send you to this Bible seminar in the Hawaii.
10. Nothing inspires me and strengthens my commitment like our annual stewardship campaign!
Have you ever noticed how women seem to get stuck with the really dirty jobs? Not at my house, of course, because I am an enlightened male. Right Linda? I said, “Right Linda?” I enjoy cooking – almost as much as I enjoy eating – so I am always willing to help out around the kitchen – at least while food is being prepared. But when it comes time to clean up, I’m usually looking for an excuse to be somewhere else (aside: I’ve got to work on my sermon dear). And I did try to help out when my daughter was young. I even came up with a definition of fatherhood. You know that you are a real father when you can change a dirty diaper with one hand while eating a peanut butter sandwich with the other.
Back in the first century Jewish women always got the dirty jobs and men had a wonderful excuse for it. It had to do with religious duty. The Jewish people of that day had a concept of ceremonial cleanliness. If a person touched blood or touched something dead, it made them ritually unclean. They were then unable to perform their religious obligations until they were purified. The same rules applied to women, but men were the spiritual leaders so women had far fewer obligations -- it was much less serious. As a result, if it involved something bleeding or something dead, it was a woman who needed to take care of it.
That’s one of the reasons that the women play such an important role in our story today. Jesus had been buried in haste so the body had not been properly cared for. Of course, preparing a dead body was women’s work. I bet that was especially true when the body was three days old.
But there is another reason why these women were headed to the tomb alone. The men were afraid for their lives and were in hiding.
Think what a horrible three days this had been. There was a Passover meal on Thursday night – much like the one we experienced here last Thursday. (aside – If you missed our Seder dinner this week, you missed a real experience – though you probably got to see the U of L game.) Passover is always a bitter sweet experience, especially when you are eating the horseradish and cheroset, but this last Passover was especially bitter because it was the disciples’ last meal with Jesus. After supper, they went to a garden so that Jesus could pray. The disciples nodded off while Jesus was praying so intently that he actually began to sweat blood. Then, in the worst of all treacheries, Judas, one of the twelve, betrayed Jesus with a kiss and turned him over to the Temple guards. There was a brief scuffle and everything might have ended there, but Jesus put a stop to the fighting and went peacefully. Over the course of that night and the next morning, Jesus was tried before the Jewish court, Pilate (the Roman governor), Herod (Rome’s puppet king of Judea), and Pilate a second time. He was convicted of sedition against the Romans, flogged and crucified, dying at 3:00 pm that Friday. He was placed in the tomb before 6:00 pm in accordance with Jewish law.
Imagine what it was like to be one of those disciples. What would you do? Your teacher was convicted and executed for leading a rebellion against Rome. How long do you think it will be before the Roman soldiers come looking for you?
The disciples gathered together in a secret spot somewhere. Imagine being in hiding. Imagine the concern every time there were footsteps outside – or worse – a knock on the door. How would you pick a place to go? How would you let others know where you were? Remember that Judas the betrayer had been part of the inner circle. How many places would be known to the other disciples but unknown to Judas? True, Judas committed suicide, probably on Friday, but how would you know that? Even if somebody reported that to you, would you believe it or think it a trap?