Easter Sunday – Hope, Joy and Purpose as an Anchor – All Saints
John 20:1-18; Acts 10 v34-43
Christ is Risen – he is Risen indeed.
Have you have lost something precious, lost hope that you would find it, but then had the joy of being reunited with it? I remember one time when we were living in Ukraine our youngest son had a special
Legoland cap that he wore – but one day on a visit to Odessa he put his cap down while eating an ice cream. Sadly, we all walked off leaving the cap behind. When our son realised that he had lost his cap he became quite upset – so off I ran to bring it back not sure that I would be able to find it. To get back to where we thought we’d lost it meant running up these huge set of stairs on a hot day then running all the way back down them after I had found the cap. As I got closer to him I could see his face looking hopefully to see if I had the cap. Tired, sweating and out of breath I gave the cap back to him – the look of joy on his face was worth it.
Hope, joy and purpose lost
This morning on Easter Sunday I want to explore Mary Magdalene’s story – one of hope and joy that was lost and restored. Jesus had set Mary free from spiritual oppression and according to Luke 8 Mary was one of the group of women who travelled with Jesus and the disciples supporting his ministry. Jesus had given her hope, joy and purpose in her life. Mary was one of the women who gathered at the foot of the cross when Jesus was crucified, and she helped prepare Jesus’ body, placing it into the tomb. Early Sunday morning Mary headed to the tomb to attend to the body of Jesus following his crucifixion only to discover an empty tomb.
It is easy to understand how Mary, the other women and the disciples must have felt when Jesus died and was put into the tomb. Their hopes, joy and purpose were lost when they rolled the stone over the entrance to the tomb where Jesus lay.
This grief deepened when Mary discovered the tomb was empty when she returned on Sunday morning. John tells us that Mary was in tears, distraught and over this terrible discovery – where was hope, joy and purpose to be found.
After an encounter with the angels, Mary turned around to see someone she thought was a gardener. Mary realised that the person was not the gardener but in fact…Jesus. It is when Jesus lovingly calls Mary by her name that the transformation takes place – from grief to joy, hopeless to hope-filled. It was the resurrection of Jesus that transformed her life both in the here and now and for eternity.
Hope, Joy and Purpose Restored
Anchors – what is the purpose of an anchor? They are used to keep boats from moving off course due to wind and water currents. Without an anchor a boat can get blown off course and not reach its destination. The resurrection event is one of the anchors of our faith and I want to explore three ways it acts as an anchor.
So how does the resurrection act as an anchor in our lives?
The resurrection is at the core of our faith – the Apostle Paul says that without it there would be no real purpose in following Jesus – he would just be a dead wise person and we would be pitied among all people. The resurrection has significance in many areas of our faith, but we will touch on how the resurrection restores hope, joy and purpose.
First the resurrection is a source of hope in this life. The moment Jesus speaks Mary’s name her whole world changes – her relationship with Jesus is re-established. She knows that her saviour lives, Jesus is with her and that was reason for hope. It is the same for those of us who follow Jesus today. Jesus is risen, he knows our name and his presence is with us and that gives us the anchor of hope in all of life’s situations. When Jesus says he is the good shepherd in John 10 Jesus says that the good shepherd “calls his own sheep by name and
leads them out.” Whether in peaceful times or in stormy seasons we have the hope that Jesus is present with us and knows us. In Matthew 28.20 the Apostle records the resurrected Jesus promised to be always with those who follow him. So, no matter our age, no matter our situation we have this assurance that Jesus
knows us and is with us – this is resurrection hope in this life. This hope we have is because Jesus rose from the dead and it anchors us in our faith and keeps us on course to live faithfully to the calling we have to follow Jesus.
In addition to the hope in this life the resurrection is our source of hope for the future. Through his resurrection Jesus conquered death and opened the way for the life to come. The knowledge of this truth is indeed an anchor of hope – the author of Hebrews in 6.19 speaks of hope in this way: We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. While the Apostle Peter puts it this way in 1 Peter 1.3-4: Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. It is the resurrection that demonstrates victory over sin and death – through faith we are justified in Christ and that is our sure and secure hope. We can hold onto this sure and secure hope because the risen Jesus has gone before us and opened the way into life eternal which is our destination.
The resurrection acts as an anchor for our joy. Matthew (28.8) tells us in his account that the women who discovered the empty tomb were filled with a great joy. We see that Mary’s encounter with Jesus filled her with an incredible joy – they knew her lord and saviour lived. The apostle Paul puts it this way in Romans
15.13: May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. The same resurrection joy is there for you and me. There is always a reason for joy – Jesus is alive, Jesus is with us, Jesus guides us, loves us, strengthens, and comforts us, and there is joy in being forgiven and reconciled with God through Christ.
Finally, the resurrection of Jesus gives us purpose in this life – because Jesus had risen, Mary and the other disciples had a renewed sense of purpose in their lives. While on earth Jesus tells his disciples that they are to be salt and light in the world. The resurrected Jesus commissioned his followers to go and make disciples, living out the good news of Jesus in word and deed. Paul in his letters to the different churches encourages the followers of Jesus in these churches to use their gifts to build each other up, to build the body of Christ, the church. For those of us who follow Jesus we have been given the purpose to worship the risen Lord, to make Jesus known, and to be salt and light in this world, to encourage one another in the faith.
In the passage from Acts we see the Apostle Peter speak of this same hope, joy and purpose – the good news of Jesus’ resurrection is good news because of the hope, joy and purpose it gives. Peter’s vision and encounter with the Gentile Roman soldier Cornelius helped him realise that the good news of the risen Jesus was not just for a select few but for all people – no matter their age, background, status in life, nationality.
The hope and joy that you and I have found in Jesus is available to all. This gives us as a church and as individuals one of our purposes in life – we are to be a community and a people of hope and joy for the world not only by sharing the good news of Jesus but importantly living and being this people of hope and joy for those around us.
Our hope, joy and purpose in the risen Jesus are three things that can hold us firm in all seasons of life, in any weather, they keep us secure in our faith, they hold us on track, they support us. We know that Jesus lives and is now with us and this is reason that we are called to be a church and a people filled with joy, with hope and living out our purpose.