By Rev. Dr. Sergio E. Arevalo, Jr.
Eagle Rock Lutheran Church
Los Angeles, Ca
April 20, 2014 (5:30 am, Easter Sunday)
Spring came, and the pre-school children talked excitedly about the coming of Easter.
Teacher Jenny told them the story of Jesus, and then to emphasize the idea of new life springing forth, she gave each of the children a large plastic egg. “Now,” she said to them, “I want you to take this home and bring it back tomorrow with something inside that shows new life. Do you understand?”
“Yes, Miss Jenny!” the children responded enthusiastically — all except for Edgar. Edgar was born with a twisted body, a slow mind, and a chronic, terminal illness that had been slowly killing him.
Edgar just listened intently, his eyes never left her face. He did not even make his usual noises.
The next morning, 19 children came to school, laughing and talking as they placed their eggs in the large basket on Miss Jenny’s desk. After their prayer, it was time to open the eggs.
In the first egg, Miss Jenny found a flower. “Oh yes, a flower is certainly a sign of new life,” she said. “When plants peek through the ground, we know that spring is here.”
A small girl in the first row waved her arms. “That’s my egg, Miss Jenny,” she called out.
The next egg contained a plastic butterfly, which looked very real. Miss Jenny held it up. “We all know that a caterpillar changes and grows into a beautiful butterfly. Yes, that is new life, too.”
Then Miss Jenny opened the third egg. She gasped. The egg was empty! Surely it must be Edgar’s, she thought, and, of course, he did not understand her instructions. Because she did not want to embarrass him, she quietly set the egg aside and reached for another.
Miss Jenny replied, “But Edgar– your egg is empty!”
He looked into her eyes and said softly, “Yes, but Jesus’ tomb was empty too!”
Miss Jenny paused and afterwards she asked him, “Do you know why the tomb was empty?”
“Oh, yes!” Edgar shouted, “Jesus was killed and put in there. Then his Father raised him up!”
The young and sickly boy understood the meaning of resurrection. How about us? Do we understand it?
I. Jesus is Missing: The Tomb is Empty.
Early in the morning, women went to where Jesus buried. They found out that Jesus was missing. He was not in the tomb. Indeed the tomb was empty. The angel testified that nobody there in the tomb. He even opened it for them to see that Jesus was missing. Even the guards who were overseeing the tomb became like dead when the angel spoke about it.
No doubt, Jesus was missing and the tomb was empty!
II. Jesus is Missing: The Women Testified.
Women have unforgettable part in the story of resurrection, simply because they were the ones who witnessed first that the Lord was missing, and the tomb was empty! Later on they witnessed that the Lord was raised from the dead!
If you are going to study the four Gospels, in Matthew 28:1, Mary Magdalene, and other Mary were the ones who visited early in the tomb. The Gospel of Mark has Mary Magdalene, Mary—James’ mother, and Salome (16:1). Luke’s account has Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary-James’ mother, and other women (24:10). The Gospel of John mentions only Mary Magdalene (20:1). Mary Magdalene was present in the four gospels. Who was this woman? She was the one from whom Jesus had cast out seven demons (Mark 16:9). You may observe some minor discrepancies here.
Further, the women did not go to the tomb for the sake of checking the tortured body of Jesus. They went there to anoint Jesus with fragrant perfume. Women knew how to love their Master. Matthew 28 and John 20 do not mention about the spice. Mark 16 mentions about the spice, but he said the ladies bought it, but Luke 24 says the ladies prepared it. In Luke 23:56, they prepared sweet spices, and perfumes/ointment.
The women believed the angel of the Lord when he said, “He is not here. He has been raised” (v.6). Immediately they ran to tell this matter to the disciples, but they also met Jesus along the way. Jesus spoke to the women!
Hey! Where were our male disciples? Did they go to the tomb? Matthew 28 and Mark 16 do not mention whether the disciples went to the tomb. Luke 24 mentions that Peter went to the tomb. The Gospel of John records the marathon of John (the so-called disciple), and Simon Peter towards the tomb (20:2-4, 8)—this seems a petty competition.
Let me ask you, why the disciples did not go to the tomb except Peter and John after they heard the news of the women? The disciples did not believe the women who brought the good news! Read Mark 16:11,
“When they heard that he was alive and that he had been seen by her, they refused to believe Mary.”
Luke 24:11: says,
“But what they said seemed nonsense to them, so they did not believe them.”
I believe their “doubt” with women was more of a cultural rather than personal thing.
Perhaps, the male dominated disciples were wondering why the Son of God showed himself to women first, and not to them? The gospels show to us that God is not discriminating woman like the new movie “Son of God” that gives important part as woman followers.
III. Jesus is Missing: The Christ is Risen.
After the confusion, the women concluded that the body of Jesus, the Son of God, was not missing. He is alive! He is risen from the dead!
Indeed, the resurrection is a fact. Resurrection really happened.
Christ is risen! The angel of the Lord testified it, “He is not here, for he is risen!” (v.6)
The angel showed the evidence, he said, “Come, see the place where the Lord lay” (v.6).
Suddenly Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” They went up to him, took hold of his feet, and worshiped him. Then Jesus told them, “Stop being frightened! Go and tell my brothers to leave for Galilee, and they will see me there.”
If Jesus was really risen from the dead, then why until now many people do not believe that he was raised from the dead, like the Jews? Matthew has some answer,
While the women were on their way, some of the guards went into the city and told the high priests everything that had happened.
So they met with the elders and agreed on a plan to give the soldiers a large amount of money.
They said, “Say that Jesus’ disciples came at night and stole him while you were sleeping. If this is reported to the governor, we’ll personally persuade him to keep you out of trouble.”
So the soldiers took the money, did as they were instructed, and this story has been spread among the Jews to this day (Mt.28:11-15).
For people who are corrupt in spirit, even though they witnessed the risen Christ, the miracles of Jesus, they still don’t believe him as Son of God, as the Messiah, as the One who could save us from all our sins.
However, for us Christians, the Christ is not missing, he is risen from the dead, and he is Lord! He is at the right hand of the Father.
Each year we commemorate the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and each year we have meaningful interpretations. This year how does this resurrection be a meaningful one to all of us? I suggest that today we see “resurrection” as “change.”
Like a seed that becomes a flower, from caterpillar to butterfly, from earthly to heavenly, from being a sinner to being saved, from being good to being better, from being better to being best, from being lonely to being happy, from being depressed to being whole—changes!
“… if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new!” (2 Cor. 5:17).
So the challenge to all us Christians is to “resurrect” our good values and positive traits to become a better person.
Let me tell you the Parable of Change. An unknown monk around 1100 AD wanted to change the world. He confessed that when he was a young man, he wanted to change the world.
He found out later that it was difficult to change the world, so he tried to change his nation. When he found out he couldn’t change the nation, he began to focus on his own town. He couldn’t change his town either, and as an older man, he tried to change his family, again he failed to change his family.
Now, as an old man, he realized that the only thing he could change was himself, and suddenly he realized that if long ago he had changed himself, he could have made an impact on his family.
The old monk said, “My family and I could have made an impact on our town. Their impact could have changed the nation and I could indeed have changed the world.”
How about you brethren, what changes do you like to start with?