2010-04-09 - He's Alive
Note from the author: I know it is a few days past Easter but I believe this message is as relevant now as it was when I preached it a few days ago at an Easter Celebration for my church.
Now let me paraphrase those passages. The women went to the tomb. They found it empty. Angels told them, "He's alive. Go tell Peter and the rest of the gang." They ran off and told the disciples, "He's alive. His body isn't there." Peter and John ran out to check it out for themselves.
HE'S ALIVE! HE'S ALIVE! That was the message from the angels to the women.
HE'S ALIVE! HE'S ALIVE! That must've been a great from the women as they burst in to tell the disciples - so good that Peter and John raced to the tomb. They wanted to see for themselves. John appears to have believed right then and there that he was alive but Peter and everyone else didn't believe until they saw him again with his own eyes.
HE'S ALIVE! HE'S ALIVE! That message was still great news for Peter. Peter prided himself on his loyalty to Jesus. HE boasted of it at their last meal together. But then Jesus was arrested and Peter pretended not to know him. He must've hated himself for that. I can imagine he may have even gone by the tomb Saturday wanting to apologize. But you can't apologize to a tomb. The dead can't hear, nor accept, your sincerest most heartfelt apologies. He felt guilty over his denial of Jesus. You can't make things right with someone who is no longer around. Those regrets can break your heart. It must be hard to have someone die when the last words spoken were ugly. It must be hard to have someone die on you when there is a rift in your relationship. That rift can never be mended. The words, "I'm sorry" can never be heard. But if he's alive then Peter could apologize and so he ran for that tomb. What great news to know that he can apologize to Jesus for his denial - for his sin.
HE'S ALIVE! HE'S ALIVE! That was great news for John because he loved Jesus and felt so loved by Jesus. Death of a loved one is never easy. Parents, children, spouses, and best friends I imagine are especially tough. I hope it's a long time before I have to know the pain from any of those but some of you have tasted that pain. On "Fringe" the other night and Walter and his wife lost their son Peter to some disease. Walter found a cure and was able to heal the Peter from another dimension. When his wife saw the other Peter, he face was filled with joy and love once more. Her son was alive. John must've been thrilled like that, that Jesus was alive. I guess that's why he outran Peter. He was hoping to see Jesus again. He missed his best friend.
HE'S ALIVE! HE'S ALIVE! Is that news as powerful today? There's no tomb for us to race to. There's one outside Jerusalem that tradition says was his but it's not certain. We never denied him in a courtyard as he predicted so we have no regret to speak to him about. He's not been our best friend for the last 3 years that we have worked and ministered beside.
HE'S ALIVE! HE'S ALIVE! That's why we are here today. Bunnies and candy are good but if he didn't come up out of the grave would we care to come together year after year to mark the anniversary of his death. People often remember a person each year on the day they died but usually it is with quiet reflection not with jubilant celebration and the consumption of large amounts of sugar and high fructose corn syrup. But does it mean anything more than that? Yes! Definitely yes! It means... THERE IS HOPE! Death is not the end. Just as Christ rose, we too can rise from the grave. Most secular Easter celebrations are based on ancient spring rituals who were celebrating renewed life as the dead of winter witnessed the birth of spring. But the religious celebrations of Easter are also about life coming from death just of men not the seasons.
Spiritually, our world had been in winter since the fall in the Garden of Eden when man first sinned. Christ's crucifixion was the darkest day of winter. Our lives have been in the dead winter of sin since our birth. But "HE'S ALIVE" means spring is here. We have new life because he had new life. We have hope because spring is here and the eternal summer of his kingdom is on its way.
HE'S ALIVE! HE'S ALIVE! Like Peter, you and I can apologize. "HE'S ALIVE" means we too can tell the risen Christ, "I'm sorry for the sins that nailed you to that cross". "HE'S ALIVE" means he can say, all is forgiven and hold us in his arms until summer comes.
HE'S ALIVE! HE'S ALIVE! Like John, we can talk to him as a dear friend. We can know his love firsthand. We can know him and work with him. "HE'S ALIVE" means as Paul said that we can be "coworkers with Christ". Henry Knox Sherrill said, "The joyful news that He is risen does not change the contemporary world. Still before us lie work, discipline, sacrifice. But the fact of Easter gives us the spiritual power to do the work, accept the discipline, and make the sacrifice." Or as Robert Flatt stated " The resurrection gives my life meaning and direction and the opportunity to start over no matter what my circumstances."
HE'S ALIVE! It's a simple message and to many it may seem like nonsense. But if you get it then you get the greatest message there is. The Easter story is no mere story of a time long ago - it is history that brings hope for the future into our present
All scripture references from KJV unless otherwise noted