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Easter Sunday Looking In The Wrong Places

easterLismore Anglican Parish Bulletin Insert Easter Sunday 5th April 2015

Looking In The Wrong Places      John 20:1-18
We all like happy endings. Even most violent movies manage an ending that inspires hope for the future.

The Easter story is one of the best known in history, with an ending that Christians consider the best news of all time.  It’s an exciting drama about rebellion against oppressive authority, standing up for the weak and powerless, healing miracles and rules broken, culminating in his brutal death on a Roman cross.

In the closing scenes, with his dying breaths, Jesus offers the gift of eternal life to a criminal being executed alongside him. “Today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43).

 He probably didn’t understand the extraordinary nature of that gift, but the criminal shared in that same happy ending with Jesus not through anything he had done – or not done – or through any special knowledge or favour. Rather, he received simply because he asked and trusted.

But despite the best efforts by his enemies, it didn’t end there. Jesus showed his power over the greatest enemy death by appearing in the flesh in the weeks following his crucifixion.

And then later, there was his mysterious ascension – almost beyond belief. But many eyewitnesses testified that it did really happen – just as the Gospels say.

If a hardened, ill-informed criminal gets to enjoy the gift of eternal life with Jesus, can we likewise expect such a happy ending? Or an even more amazing new beginning? Absolutely!

We too are offered that same gift, though it is never forced on us. Like a loving Father, God wants nothing more than to draw us back to himself into a relationship of love and trust. And it starts with a simple ‘yes’.

In John’s version, Mary arrived first at the empty tomb that Easter Sunday morning, and was asked, ‘Why are you crying? Who are you looking for?’ (Jn 20:15). She thought he was the gardener, and was looking for Jesus in the wrong place. Yet the moment Jesus called her name, she recognised him.

Jesus appears to us today – not simply as a great figure in history – but as a living reality whose power and presence is available to all who accept him as Lord. And Jesus calls each of us by name, like Mary. May we always recognise his voice and not look for Jesus in the wrong places.

 

John 20:1-19 The Resurrection of Jesus

201 Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. 2So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, ‘They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.’ 3Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went towards the tomb. 4The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. 6Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, 7and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. 8Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; 9for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. 10Then the disciples returned to their homes.

11 But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; 12and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. 13They said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping?’ She said to them, ‘They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.’ 14When she had said this, she turned round and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping? For whom are you looking?’ Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, ‘Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.’ 16Jesus said to her, ‘Mary!’ She turned and said to him in Hebrew, ‘Rabbouni!’ (which means Teacher). 17Jesus said to her, ‘Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, “I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.” ’ 18Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, ‘I have seen the Lord’; and she told them that he had said these things to her.

19 When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’