He is Risen! Easter Sunday, 2018

He is Risen! Easter Sunday, 2018

Easter Sunday Sermon

Mark 16:1-11

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

On this great day in history. I want to focus on two people – who aren’t there in our gospel, only mentioned. Jesus and Peter.

Mark’s Gospel begins with what God’s messenger announcing what God is about to do, and the gospel closes with God’s messenger announcing what God has done.

”You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified, he has risen!”

Jesus is victorious. Hallelujah.

Over sin. He said – he came not to be served but to serve and give his life as a ransom for many. (Mark 10:45). To be freed from what. Earlier Jesus had revealed the human problem – sin, what flows out of the human heart. He paid the ransom fee. Like the recent story from France we heard of French Lt Colonel Gendarme Arnaud Beltrame who gave his life to set free others held hostage. As Jesus dies, we hear the temple curtain being ripped (Mark 15:38), that now there is access into the presence of the living God. Jesus being raised confirms that sacrifice for sin was accepted.

He is victorious over death. You did not come back from crucifixion. That is why the Romans used it so much. Jesus compared his death to going into the belly of the great fish by Jonah. But just like those of us who watch Hollywood movies or Blue or Frozen Planet – if a great fish gets you, you aren’t coming out. But Jesus did! And that victory. So precious.

Paul writes some of my favourite words in NT:

‘for if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile, you are still in your sins. Then those who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all people. But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead.” (1 Corinthians 15:16-20).

He has been raised, he defeated death, and so, if Christ has not returned by when we die, we will be raised from the dead and also those who have fallen asleep in Christ. Sins forgiven. Death defeated.

And finally he is victorious over Satan. John tells us that Satan prompted Judas to betray Jesus. Satan’s plan. Yet he is defeated. Christ is risen.

Allelulia Christ is risen, he is risen indeed alleluia!

Jesus is not there, the angel says. No joyful reunion! We don’t even see him meeting the women, or Mary, or the disciples, as we read in other gospels. He is already on the move. It is similar to the CS Lewis Chronicles of Narnia, where Mr and Mrs Beaver, say that Aslan is on the move. We see it as we read the gospel from start to end – he is always moving, different villages, different life situations, different challenges, different ways his power and authority is shown. Jesus is not there – he has risen – the humiliation and destruction of the cross – has been overturned. But he is not there by the tomb. He isn’t there because the resurrection is the beginning of the gospel to be proclaimed in the world.

This is to be told folks. The women are to go and tell – to go and tell the disciples, who must in turn go to Galillee. This command is the first time that Jesus followers are told to tell something about him – the message before has been about the Kingdom of God being near. Now the two are of course connected. Yet it appears here an explicit tell about him. The crucifixion and resurrection are a turning point – no need of secrets or silence – it is to be proclaimed.

Alleluia Christ is risen he is risen indeed. Alleluia.

The angel says ‘he is going ahead of you’. The Greek word used – is proago.  It doesn’t mean he has gone ahead of you, like our kids who love going ahead of us to eat the best cake on a big brunch while we stack chairs or say hello to the vicar! Two Greek history writers use this (Thucydides & Polybius) word to describe for leading troops forward, and for a commander making an advance. Earlier Jesus had made the same promise:

” You will all fall away for it is written I will strike the shepherd and the sheep will be scattered, But after i have risen I will go ahead of you into Galilee.” (Mark 14:27-28).

He will gather the scattered flock, he will lead them forward, he will bring healing and restoration as any shepherd would.  As Jesus led his frightened disciples to Jerusalem by going before them, so the risen Jesus goes ahead of them and us still, leading the church forward.

So the absence of a joyful reunion and the angel’s message shifts our focus from simply praise on this day to seeing the Shepherd Lord on the move, and him going ahead by his Spirit, and us asking – Lord where are you on the move to – as we seek to live, communicate, breathe the glorious news of the crucifixion and resurrection.

And as he promised he would be raised – on at least 5 times, it has happened, and we know his words are trustworthy and true, as he leads us forward…

Alleluia. Christ is risen. He is risen indeed. Alleluia.

But second character. Peter.

The angel says: go tell his disciples and Peter. Did the women know of Peter’s denial? Does that tell them that Peter is to be included. Does it tell the other 10 disciples that Peter has not been rejected. Does it tell Peter, that he too is invited to come to Galilee to see the Lord.

Remember the resurrection revokes death and destruction but also sin. Peter is mentioned  – to show that he will be fully restored, despite his breach of faith. Jesus does not give up on his disciples, no matter how great their failure or how many their faults.

‘go tell his disciples and Peter’. Peter, who was the first disciple called. One who was chosen as an apostle to be with Jesus and to go out to preach and heal. The one who declared who Jesus truly was. The one who was invited with 2 others to see Jesus revealed in all his glory. The one who was invited to be with Jesus as he prayed on Maundy Thursday.

And the one who denied him three times.

Such a fall.

Today maybe some of you here need to hear that – go tell and Peter – that perhaps you have fallen. You had been doing so well. But it has gone wrong. Maybe you only know it, maybe many do.  Jesus says – there is always restoration, he does not give up on you. He comes to rub out our failures and not rub them in. Jesus invites you to rise, to come out of the tomb you are in, as he has rolled back the stone and says – let us start again.  Maybe if this is you, this is a day to accept that invitation from Christ. Our prayer ministry team can pray with you as you restart with the Lord, accept that if he does not give up on you, then you cannot give up on yourself…

Alleluia. Christ is risen. He is risen indeed. Alleluia.

Two people. Not present.

Jesus. Victorious over sin, satan, death, whose words were proven true. And the one who goes ahead to lead his church, who is on the move, who says proclaim, live, breathe, walk in the good news of the crucifixion and resurrection.

Peter, despite all his achievements, he mightily failed yet Jesus does not give up of any of his disciples – they had all let him down, abandoned him in those hours of arrest and trial – but he invites them all to go to Galilee to be restored, as all of his disciples then and now can be.

Alleluia. Christ is risen. He is risen indeed. Alleluia.

God of glory,
by the raising of your Son
you have broken the chains of death and hell:
fill your Church with faith and hope;
for a new day has dawned
and the way to life stands open
in our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.


Revd Grant Crowe