2018 Sermon Easter Sunrise
St. John 20:1-18
Christ is risen! Nobody expected Jesus to be alive. That's because they didn't believe His Word. How many times did Jesus tell His disciples that He would suffer and rise the third day? But, as John points out, they didn't yet know the Scriptures that said it was necessary for Him to rise. It was all there in the Old Testament and what Jesus said. Well they didn't believe it from the Word. What about when Jesus was alive? Mary is standing there looking at Him and even then doesn't recognize Him! Not until He says her name. Maybe it's her grief, but maybe it's the Lord, not revealing Himself to her until He has called her by name. And that point, Jesus says He is going to His Father and THEIR Father; His God and THEIR God.
The resurrection changes everything. After the resurrection, we recognize Jesus when He calls us by name. It's why Baptism and Easter go together. Christ is risen! That means you rise. You were buried with Christ by Baptism into death, and just as Jesus was raised, so you are raised to newness of life. His resurrection means your Baptism. And in that Baptism, God calls you by name and calls you His own. The great doubt of Easter morning is that the Lord has left His people. Abandoned them. Failed them. How often don't we conclude that by what's going on in our lives? Mary was crushed. The disciples were crushed. Death was the only thing on their mind. Just as death is the thing on our mind. If it's not always directly then it's indirectly as we deal with sickness and disease and the problems and sufferings we live through each day.
Against all that sorrow is Jesus saying, "Mary!" Against all those things is Jesus saying your name in your Baptism, telling you He is alive forevermore and has defeated all those things for you! Now, Mary wants to hang on to Jesus. She doesn't want to see Him go again. But this is not how she will see Him. Now it will be where His disciples are. In other words, no clinging to Jesus in the Garden. Rather, we find Him and hang onto Him in His church. The promise of Christ being alive and calling our names in baptism takes place in His church. Those who celebrate Easter are church people, the body of Christ, gathered together to find their hope and strength daily in the forgiveness of sins that Jesus gives out in His church. Rejoicing in God calling us by name in Baptism; absolving our sins; coming to us in His body and blood so that we may see that He is alive. Over and over what Jesus said is repeated: The Son of Man suffered and was crucified and died for us and rose again for us. And He calls you by name to rescue you out of every temptation and evil and promises that just as He rose from the dead, so you will rise from the dead too. Behold our Lord on Easter because that is your future, children of God, to rise from the dead and live forevermore! In the Name of Jesus. Amen.