Summary: Challenges and Joy of Easter
Alleluia Christ is Risen!
Today I have the challenge, the privilege and the immense joy of preaching on the resurrection of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
I want to start by looking at the women who went to the tomb on that very first Easter morning. These women would have been accompanying Jesus and his followers (or disciples) for some time and would have witnessed some of his teachings and the events of the previous weeks.
I would like you to imagine the scene, a small group of women had gathered together to perform a specific task, that of preparing Jesus’ body for burial, a job that had been delayed so that they were able to faithfully celebrate the Passover which is an important Jewish festival.
The group of women would have probably met in the village with all the necessary spices and materials that was required for this specific task, the women would have been familiar with the task as preparing bodies for burial was women’s work. Once all the women had gathered together they would have set off from their homes to the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea where Jesus’ body had been laid.
As they made their way from their homes to the tomb where Jesus had been laid they would probably have been reminiscing and comforting each other.
As the women were familiar with the task at hand, they would have known what to expect, however what they found was not what they were expecting.
They were expecting to find a closed tomb, instead they found an open tomb
They were expecting to find Jesus, dead in the tomb, instead they found no body and, as St. Luke puts it, “two men in clothes that gleamed like lightening” who tells them the wonderful news that Jesus has been raised from the dead and is alive.
The women had the privilege of being the first humans to hear the news that Jesus had risen from the dead and is alive.
The women had the joy of remembering the teaching of Jesus about how he would bring eternal life to all who believe in Him and how he (Jesus) fulfilled a lot of the Old Testament promises. The women also had the joy of interacting with the presence of the divine, when the two men in gleaming clothes told them that Jesus is alive.
However, the women did not only have privileges and joy, they also faced challenges.
The women had been challenged to tell other people about what they had witnessed, this is not as simple request as it may seem,
The women had a choice, they could either respond to the challenge that they had been given, or they could ignore it. By responding to the challenge of telling others, it could be seen that they were being obedient, however this is not all as it seems. If the Roman and Jewish authorities heard that Jesus’ body had gone and that he had been raised to eternal life, then the authorities would want to respond by silencing and refuting the news. The women’s lives could have been in danger, however this was not the only challenge the women faced, the women had another challenge and that was one of making people believe what they had witnessed that first Easter morning.
I now would like you to imagine that you are one of the people that the women tell about the events that they have witnessed,
You can probably imagine the unbelief that the people hearing the news would have experienced, after all, in all other cases, once a person is dead and put in a tomb, they remain dead and unless grave robbers have plundered the tomb then the body is where they left it. If you were one of the disciples that the women told that Jesus is alive, then you probably are going to think that the women
a) Either went to the wrong tomb
b) That someone had stolen Jesus body
Both these situations would have been the more probable explanation and yet both of them are incorrect. The logical situation does not apply as Jesus was not just anyone, He is the son of God, who came to bring salvation to the world through his death and resurrection.
The women had the challenge of telling others that Jesus is alive and that they had gone to the correct tomb and that they heard that Jesus had risen from the dead and is alive forever more and by telling others, the women shared their joy in the resurrection of Jesus.
However, we know that the women were successful in their challenge of making the people they told, believe that Jesus had risen from the dead, if they hadn’t been successful then, we probably wouldn’t be here today.