Easter Sunrise Sermon

Resurrection of Our Lord—Easter Sunrise
John 20:1-18
April 20, 2014
Camp Trinity—New Haven, MO

In the name of the Father, and of the + Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Alleluia! Christ is risen!
He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

2.

The dawn of the third day after Jesus’ crucifixion was a day of wonder, of bewilderment, of confusion—even of a little fear. Though Jesus had openly preached His crucifixion, His rest in the tomb, and His resurrection from the dead, His disciples were not ready to believe it. Even John, who said that he looked into the empty tomb with his own eyes and believed, still didn’t realize that the Scriptures said that it was necessary for Jesus to rise from the dead.

After Peter and John leave the tomb and go back to their own, Mary Magdalene is left in the garden alone. She had been there earlier in the morning, before sunrise with the other women, and the young man—the angel—tells them that Jesus is risen. But Mary is slow to believe. She takes another look in the tomb, and this time she sees two angels—one at the head and one at the foot of the burial chamber. Through tears, she explains how she’s still looking for her Lord’s body; presumably someone had moved it without telling anyone.

Before the angels can answer, Jesus Himself comes to her, but she does not recognize Him. Now, Mary had been one of the closest disciples outside of the twelve. She was one of the faithful women who also followed Jesus, one of the ones who went beyond where the last disciple was willing to go, who followed Jesus along His path to the cross, who stood at its foot for hours weeping and mourning what evil men did to Him. She was one of the faithful who couldn’t wait for the Sabbath to end in order to go care for the body of Jesus and give Him a proper burial. She was the one from whom Jesus cast out seven demons, and now she looked directly into His eyes and did not recognize Him.

The reason why she did not recognize Him is not because He looked any different than a few days prior, but because, as the text says, she saw Him standing there in the garden. And dead men don’t stand.

Even though empirical, verifiable proof of Jesus’ resurrection was staring at her in the face, the flesh is never ready to accept that the dead rise. And so Mary presumed that this Man was only the gardener—who else would hang out around a dead man’s tomb so early in the morning.

“Sir, if you carried Him away, tell me where you laid Him, and I will take Him,” Mary says. Jesus said to her, “Mary.” One word. Mary. Jesus calls her by name, and she believes.

 1.

There are many proofs of Jesus’ resurrection. Four independent evangelists record the history of the empty tomb. The personal letters of three disciples and several other followers bear witness to the resurrected Christ. The women at the tomb, Peter, two disciples on the road, the eleven, and over 500 other eyewitnesses attest to Jesus walking and talking, breathing and eating just days after He is crucified. And above all—the tomb is still empty. No one has yet to produce the body of Jesus of Nazareth. Because His body is no longer in the tomb, but risen and ascended and seated at God’s right hand.

But even with all of this objective, empirical, verifiable evidence—an overwhelming amount of evidence compared to other historical facts we simply take for granted—even with it all staring you in the face, the flesh is never ready to accept that the dead rise.

Until Jesus calls you by name.

The prophet Isaiah writes, But now, thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob, And He who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine” (Is 43:1 NKJV). Jesus called you by name when you were washed with water and the Word.

When Jesus called you by name, that was when your eyes were opened to His resurrection. And at the same time, your eyes were opened to your own resurrection. Do you not know that as many as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? We were therefore buried together with Him, through baptism, into death, in order that just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, in this way also we would walk in newness of life (Rom 6:3-4).

Jesus calls you by name again today, to rejoice in the new life that He has given you, to rejoice that you have died to sin, and are alive in Christ. But don’t cling to this body. There is another resurrection that Jesus today calls you to believe—your own resurrection on the Last Day. On that day, your name will be called once again, and your eyes will open, and in your own flesh, you will see God.

Jesus Calls You by Name To Believe His Resurrection

Alleluia! Christ is risen!
He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

In + Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Rev. Jacob Ehrhard
VD+MA