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Summary: Since Jesus resurrected and is still alive today, we can experience Him the same way as Mary, the disciples and Thomas did. There are 3 ways to start experience Easter in our lives today: Love Jesus, Trust Him and Seek Him among His Followers.

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[Before the message, welcome the guests and instruct them to fill out the welcome cards (to be used at the ending invitation).]

{Beginning: 1st hand vs. 2nd hand experience}[i]

Good morning! With me up here are ML and MP. Both of them are best friend with one another; and both have a certain opinion about a guy name RJ. [To ML:] Hi, how do feel about RJ? [To MP:] How about you, how do feel about RJ? [To audience:] Now even their answers could be identical, the question is whether or not they have the same experience with RJ or not. [Ask them about how they know RJ, it turn out one of them have never met Ryan and just formed her opinion based on what other have said about Him].

This is the different between first hand and second hand experience. Unfortunately, a lot of our experience about Easter seems to be very second handed. For example, Newsweek wrote about the Resurrection of Christ, the author even convinced that it was taking place historically. [Read the quote from it about the historical reliability of the resurrection]. But if I coould have a conversation with the author, a secular journalist, I would love to ask, "So, you have read, interviewed, and researched about Easter; yet, have you experienced Easter in your life?". I think he would be puzzled, "What do you mean by experience Easter?" Well, Let’s take a look of what a first hand experience of Easter looks like…

{Reading the text - John 20:1,11-31}

{Prayer}

It’s one thing to believe what they had experienced then. It’s another to experience that transformation of Jesus today. Can Jesus comfort your grief and turn it to joy like with Mary? Can He move us from fear to courage like with the disciples? And can He turn my unbelief to confidence like with Thomas?

{Big Idea:} Yes, since Jesus resurrected and is still alive today, you can experience Jesus the same way just as they did before. From this text, there are 3 ways to help us start experience the power of Jesus’ resurrection in our lives today: Love Jesus, Trust Him, and Seek Him with His Followers.

{1} LOVE

The more you love someone, the more grievous you feel when you lost them.

Mary loved Jesus very much. She had sinned much and Jesus had done for her what no one else could do. He had forgiven and cleansed her[ii]. Mary loved Jesus very much and His death grieved her immensely. Love kept her there to witness Jesus’ torturous death until the last minute as he was buried hastily. And love compelled her there to be the first person at His tomb; to anoint His body according to proper custom. When she arrived, the tomb was opened. Jesus’ body is no where in sight. “What cruelty to Jesus; even in His death they won’t leave Him alone!” She must have thought. So she weeps grievously as she looks into the tomb.

The more you love someone, the more grievous you feel when you lost them. Mary was so grieved that she didn’t see the burial linen strips were still lying there. If she did, she would have realized that neither thieves nor enemies would un-wrap the corpse to take just the body. Our pains and grieve often clouded our mind to perceive the work of God.

But that’s OK. God understands our frailty make-ups. In the midst of pains and grieve, God didn’t scold Mary for her lacks of faith or understanding. He sent His messengers to ask, “Why are you crying? Why do you grieve?” But asking “Why” is only the start of the understanding of faith. Often we don’t know the answer of “Why”. So, Jesus personally comes asking the clarifying question, points to the cause of pain and grief, “Why are you crying? Whom are you seeking?” It’s the void of The Lord’s Presence in our lives that make our trouble unbearable!

Then the risen Christ speaks her name - tenderly, but with all the authority of one who has conquered death, “Mary!” It is the familiar tone, and Mary knows the voice. She “turned” to Him; she changes directions. It is the movement from grief to joy, from death to life. And in adoration and wonder, she falls at His feet and utters, “Rabboni! Teacher” This is the title one gives to Jesus at the beginning of faith [and restoration].[iii] This is the relationship we must presume to experience the Living God: He gives instructions, and we follow instructions!

His first instruction was that Mary cannot continue clinging to Him. In His Resurrection Jesus is no longer as whom He was before the Crucifixion, humanity in the flesh, with all its limitations of space and time and the weaknesses of earthly existence. But “instead”, Jesus pointed Mary to cling on to His family, Jesus is sending her; “to my brothers”. He talked before about his disciples as “servants” and as “friends”, but this was the first time as “brothers”. Jesus had risen to establish a new order of relationship: the family of God! Here God the Father becomes Our Father. Here Jesus took on our God as His God. The family of God is a place for us to physically “cling on” to Jesus through the brothers and sisters. This is the first place for us to proclaim “I have seen the Lord!”

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