Easter Sunday – Sermon 112

13th February 2011 Off By Derek Buckthorpe

Prayer to start

May the words of my lips and the thoughts of our hearts be graciously received for the glory and honour of our Lord Jesus Christ

AMEN

Introduction

If you managed to get any of the Compline services last week –

You’ll have been treated to something different

Instead of the usual address – each evening we’ve watched a short monologue – from an award winning TV series on characters in the Bible – called “Tales from the Mad House”

Each one is a story about the motives and happenings of each of the characters – during the events of Holy Week –

We had Pilot’s Wife – Judas Iscariot and Barrabbas

Well tonight – in our New Testament reading we focus on another important character in the Bible – Mary of Magdala – who has a special place – not only because of the love she showed towards Jesus in His life and death – but because she was the first to see Him after His resurrection-

So lets listen to Mary’s story –

Point 1     A woman anointing

It was dark when she stirred from a sleepless night – there was a bitter taste in her mouth – everything felt so unbearably heavy – filled with the sickness that comes with death –

“Did it really happen? – Is He really dead?” or was it all just – a terrible nightmare?

She closed the door behind her – and hurried quickly to the meeting place –

Waiting for the others – she could hardly stand up – there was a coldness of the air – a numbness in her arms –

But she will do – this one last thing for Him – after all He did so much for her –

She remembered the day when she first saw Him – a day she will never forget as long as she lives –

Magdala was a busy place – everybody who was anybody traded there – fishermen – boat builders – farmers – the lakeside was always awash with people and gossip – there was a lot of money to be made – a lot of corruption too –

Everybody had been buzzing about this miracle man from Nazareth – who healed people and changed their lives – she never dreamed she would actually see Him – let alone meet Him –

Before Jesus – her life had no purpose – she used to be sick a lot – physically – and mentally – some people said she had demons inside her – and they would often give her a wide berth –

But when Jesus – saw her – He seemed to know what was wrong – She doesn’t remember much of what He said – but afterwards – what a difference!

All that sickness left her – she was never the same again – it was as if for the first time in her life – she had a purpose – a relationship – with someone special – with God – and with Him – She knew then – that she would follow Him – wherever He led –

Mary had some money – and so could help with the food – all the women did – it was a way of supporting His ministry –

And what a ministry it was – she saw Him help people – heal people – she remembers seeing a man who had never walked before – get up and walk away – He even helped someone who was blind from birth – see again –

Jesus had a way of calming – everybody around Him – wherever He went – there was so much love –

She never imagined it would all end up like this

Its all their fault – she thought – those so called religious leaders – they said some cruel things about Him – and none of it was true –

We were so scared – when He said He was coming to Jerusalem – for the Passover – we knew they would try to get Him –

Then when He came into the city – on that donkey – with all the people cheering – and waving – well – we thought it was alright – you would wouldn’t you – it was like a king’s welcome –

But we soon realized – it wasn’t – as the week went on – things started to happen – and it all got very confusing – first we heard about Judas – betraying Him – then – that He’d been put on trial – like a common criminal – they were beating Him – whipping Him – it was terrible – and then the worst thing – the Romans said He was going to be crucified –

He didn’t deserve any of it – He never hurt anyone – He was a man of peace – not violence – they even let that rebel-rouser Barrabas go – instead of Him –

The rest of the disciples scattered – I didn’t now where they went –

Even though I knew it would mean that I would see Him die – in that aweful way – I knew I had to be with Him – We women went to the skull place – Golgotha – and saw Him on the cross – I cried out so loudly –
It was horrible – watching His broken body die!

If only He’d stayed in Galilee
If only they’d not gone to the garden
If only the men had kept their wits about them – and done more!

Why didn’t we go and fight for Him?

Afterwards we looked to see where Joseph put the body – so we could meet here this morning – and prepare Him properly for His burial –

He promised us so much – but where’s it all now ?

Mary lifted her head upwards – grieving – remembering – how they had silently watched the end – and in the end – died too!

Someone’s coming – it’s the others – nothing was said – they hurried on together –

Point 2   A woman searching

The women went to meet the men – at the tomb-

The stones were cold – the twisted hollow trees so empty – and still – it was a deary light – Mary was unsure about this – she knew the stone would be there – how would they get in – how would they react to seeing His mangled body again –

it took a moment for the sight of the empty doorway to register – they stopped uncertain – terrified of the yawning hole – terrified of the brutality of the soldiers – terrified of being alone and vulnerable –

There was no body – no stink of death – No Jesus – just the grave clothes – and the cold air of a new day –

Mary His mother crumpled – sobbing uncontrollably – she cried out – “No more – Oh God I can bear no more!” – she ran back – they all did – only Mary was left –

And as the light changed – her grieving turned to rage – ‘I will not cry’ – she whispered to herself –‘ I did not fight for Him in life – but I’ll fight for Him in death!’

She walked quietly forward – and looked into the tomb again –

“Why are you crying? – who are you searching for?” – said the two voices –

“They have taken my Lord away – and I don’t know where they have laid Him”

Then behind her she heard a man’s voice –

“Why are you weeping – who are you looking for?”

In Mary’s mind there could be only one person who could have moved the body – the gardener!

Trying desperately to hold her feelings – back – she turned towards – who she thinks is the gardener – “If it is you sir who removed Him – tell me where you have laid Him, and I will take Him away”

Then came that single word – “Mary” – and suddenly her pain was transformed – into overwhelming joy – “Teacher” – she cried – and
she lunged forward to touch Him –

This was the defining moment in the history not only for Mary – but for the rest of mankind – when – “The light shines in the dark – and the darkness never mastered it” – Mary was the first to see the Risen Lord

Mary’s joy didn’t come until she saw Jesus clearly – until she recognized Him – through the eyes of love

Too often we fail to see Jesus’ love in our world today – not only in our lives – but in the lives of the people around us –

Point 3

“Do not cling to me” – said Jesus – “For I have not yet ascended to the Father”- go and tell my brothers – that I am ascending to my Father and your Father, my God and your God”

Now that she knows – Mary has to convince others – that Jesus lives-

Our relationship with Jesus is not – something to be kept close – but must be revealed and displayed for all to see –

Jesus is available to us all – no longer tied to a human body – but free to help each one of us – His love is to be given – to everyone who asks for it

After meeting Jesus that morning – Mary realized she would never be alone again –

she ran as fast as she could to tell the others –

Ending

Mary’s Easter morning was full of images – the empty tomb – the voice of the angels – the encounter with Jesus – she started the day – empty of hope – but finished it in joyful praise – her life changed forever –

That same Jesus can change our lives – and make us whole again –

Mary who was the first to see Jesus that morning – was the messenger of the His resurrection –

Jesus sent her out on a mission to tell the others what she has seen and heard –

Like Mary – we too have a story to tell – about our encounter with Jesus – the things He has taught us – the help He has given us – the people and things He has encouraged us to care about –

Because of the things Jesus has done for us – We too must go and tell – so that others may find Him where He already is – alive and at work – in the community around us – so that like us – they too may have a new purpose for living – and a future home in His house in heaven

Prayer

In the name of the Father, Son & Holy Spirit

AMEN