Easter Sunday - Mark the 16: 1-8 / Pastor Ted Giese / Easter
Easter Sunday - Mark 16: 1-8 / Pastor Ted Giese / Mount Olive Lutheran Church
When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint Him. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. And they were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?” And looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back—it was very large. And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed. And he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; He is not here. See the place where they laid Him. But go, tell His disciples and Peter that He is going before you to Galilee. There you will see Him, just as He told you.” And they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.
Let us pray: May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight O Lord. Amen.
Grace peace and mercy to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Good Christian Friends. The first miracle Jesus performed was at a wedding in Cana in Galilee, Saint John tells us that, "when the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to Him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” Jesus preformed many other miracles once His public ministry began in earnest, He healed the sick, cast out demons, walked on the waters of the sea of Galilee, commanded the weather to obey Him, and even raised the dead. The biggest and most important of miracles was the one that happened that first Easter, when He was risen from the dead. This was so shocking and astounding that Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome who had bought spices, so that they might anoint His dead body, fled from the tomb, saying nothing to anyone, for they were afraid. We know from John's Gospel that Mary Magdalene did finally speak once she got to Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, [she] said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him.” The thought that Jesus was risen from the dead was so impossible that their first impression was that He'd simply been moved.
Mary Magdalene, Saint John, and Jesus' mother the Virgin Mary had all been at the foot of the cross, they'd all witnessed His death. After Mary Magdalene ran to Peter and John and told them what she saw, Peter and John themselves ran to the tomb and when they went in John saw the empty tomb and he believed and Peter after seeing the empty tomb went home marvelling at what had happened; for they, Peter, John, and Mary Magdalene (all those who were starting to see what was happening) did not as of yet understand the Scripture, that Jesus must rise from the dead.
Saint Mark tells us that right before Mary Magdalene had run to tell Peter and John what had happened she and the other women had seen an angel in the empty tomb who had said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; He is not here. See the place where they laid Him." This miracle was so huge, that even being told point blank by an angel that Jesus had risen to new life couldn't at first get Jesus' resurrection completely across to them. For nearly all those who had seen Jesus' death, for nearly all those who'd been part of His public ministry, for nearly all of them, it seems that they needed to see Jesus resurrected, in the flesh, themselves. Thomas would not have been the only follower of Jesus who'd have insisted, “Unless I see in His hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into His side, I will never believe.” St. Luke tells us that when the women came with their story about Jesus that first Easter morning their "words seemed to [the disciples] an idle tale, and they did not believe them. All the same, "idle tale" or not, Peter and John ran to the tomb to investigate. The Holy Spirit was at work. Germination of the word that they had heard was well on its way.
By the end of that day, by the end of that first Easter, Mary Magdalene, Peter and John and all the surviving disciples, apart from Thomas saw Jesus alive that very day. In the 40 days that followed before His ascension Saint Paul tells us that Jesus even "appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom [were] still alive, [when Paul wrote 1 Corinthians] though some had fallen asleep," and Paul had written 1 Corinthians about 20 years after Jesus' ascension so there were many eye witnesses to Jesus' resurrection just as there had been many eye witness to His miracles and His death upon the cross. And after Jesus' ascension some of these eye witnesses were preaching and writing letters and Gospels and others were simply telling what they had seen bearing witness to Christ along the way.
Two of those eye witnesses on that first Easter were walking the road from Jerusalem to Emmaus, they had heard the story told by Mary Magdalene and didn't know what to make of it. While they walked Jesus Himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were kept from recognizing Him. And even though they talked with Him about all that had happened over the Passover in Jerusalem they didn't know it was Jesus until He was at table with them, when He took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. And then their eyes were opened, and they recognized Jesus. And He vanished from their sight. There they sat with the bread of Holy Communion on the table (Jesus' very body for the forgiveness of their sin), there they sat with His words ringing in their ears. At the crucifixion John had heard His Lord's dying words and in death John had also witnessed the water and the blood that had flowed from Jesus' side where the Roman spear had pierced Him. This reminder of Holy Communion and Baptism didn't end at the cross with Jesus' death these followers of Jesus on the road to Emmaus were the first to share in Holy Communion showing that Holy Communion was alive in Christ's Resurrection right from that first Easter Day to you this Easter Day. And as we see with little Will Yee, Holy Baptism is likewise alive in Christ flowing from His side at the cross - down through the ages - right to you and yours today.
Jesus' first miracle performed at the wedding in Cana in Galilee saw simple water turned to wine. In Holy Communion Jesus is present with the wine and with the bread we break together just as He promises to be. His presence with us is a miracle. Speaking of this Mystery Saint Paul says, "The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?" This meal that Jesus instituted connects us to Maundy Thursday, to Good Friday, to Easter morning each time we receive it. The body and the blood of Christ that we miraculously receive in Holy Communion is the same body and blood that was shed and given for you when Jesus was nailed to the cross, it's also the same body and blood that was raised up with Jesus on The Third Day that first Easter morning.
While the meal is simple bread and wine, Saint John in the book of Revelation talks about it as, "the marriage supper of the Lamb.” Today as we join in it, we rightly call it 'a foretaste of that feast to come,' we sing, "This is the feast of victory for our God, for the Lamb who was slain has begun His reign. Alleluia." And we now, with the two followers of Jesus who were walking to Emmaus on the First Easter, with the twelve disciples and Christ on the night when Jesus was betrayed, with all the faithful Christians through History, with all the faithful Christians alive this day receive a Miracle and a Mystery, we receive our risen Lord who comes to us as He promises to do. This is a wedding reception: He is both meal and host. As the host Christ Jesus is the Bridegroom at this wedding reception and His Bride is the Church, and you are part of the church. At the cross God joined together Jesus the Bridegroom and His Bride the Church in the water and the blood - you are joined to this in your Baptism and in Holy Communion. And just as happens in a marriage the two, Jesus and the Church, are officially "no longer two but one flesh," at the cross and at the empty tomb they have become one, they are now the Body of Christ, and "What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”
It's very telling that the first miracle Jesus performed, at a wedding in Cana in Galilee, should be so thoroughly connected to His passion, so closely connected to His cross and to the Sacraments of the Church.
"When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to Him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” When Jesus rode into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday His hour had come, when He cleared the Temple of the money changers His hour had come, when He ate the last Passover Meal with His disciples His hour had come, when He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane (sweating sweat like great drops of blood) His hour had come, as He hung nailed to the cross His hour had come, as He rested dead in the tomb on Holy Saturday His hour had come, and at last as He walked alive out of the Tomb Easter morning His hour had come. His hour has come this day too; His hour comes when He comes to you in the wedding feast, in Holy communion: His coming to you today in the meal connects you to the eternal wedding feast of the Lamb were we with angels and archangels and all the company of heaven join together our song of praise, our thankful Hosannas. In that heavenly meal, He answers our call, and in this heavenly meal the wine will never run out as it had at the wedding in Cana in Galilee. Just as His Love for you, and His forgiveness for you will never run out.
The challenge for us today is not entirely different from the challenge faced by Mary Magdalene, Peter and John and the others that first Easter. In every case they heard about Jesus' resurrection before they witnessed it. The angel told Mary at the empty tomb, Mary told Peter and John and the disciples, even the two followers on the road to Emmaus were not at first given eyes to see Jesus; Jesus even says to them as they walked together, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into His glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself." After they recognized Jesus in the meal, then they said to one another, “Did not our hearts burn within us while He talked to us on the road, while He opened to us the Scriptures?” Yes, they ended up seeing Jesus in the flesh, and you will too, but they started out just like you - they only had the Word of God, and the Word spoken to them, they had the Gospel message passed from lip, to ear, to heart and when they heard it the Holy Spirit was at work. Just as the Holy Spirit is at work in you this Day herein this place. Saint John records what Jesus said to the disciple Thomas after Thomas finally saw Jesus in the flesh, Jesus said, “Have you believed because you have seen Me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” You, this day, are such as these.
Therefore Listen to Jesus when He says, "Do not disbelieve, but believe.” Trusting that He is the Living One who was dead and is now alive forevermore, He is the one who forgives you when your falter in your faithfulness, He has the keys to eternal life and He is the one who comes to you in the meal this day. To His bride the Church He is ever faithful, ever patient, ever loving, ever kind, and to you in His Church He is the same. He bears all things, He endures all things, He bore the cross and your sin, He endured the grave and death's sting, He is alive, risen, eternal for you. In John's Gospel Jesus promises that He will come again to take you to Himself, and in the mean time He gives you His Word in Holy Scripture, He gives you Himself in His meal, He gives you His Holy Baptism, as St. Matthew records, He is with you always, even now, until the end of age, until the end of time, into eternity forever. A Blessed Easter Day, a blessed Easter season to you, today, and all through your life unto eternal Life: Christ is Risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia! and Amen.
Let us pray:
Lord have mercy on us, Christ have mercy on us, Lord have mercy on us, “take our minds and think through them, take our lips and speak through them, take our hearts and set them on fire; for the sake of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, Amen.
 Luke 24:12
 John 20:25
 Luke 24:11
 Judas had hung himself and was no longer with the Twelve.
 1 Corinthians 15:6
 Luke 24:15-16, 30-31
 1 Corinthians 10:16
 Revelation 19:6-9
 Romans 6:9-11
 Matthew 19:6
 Luke 24:25-27
 Luke 24:32
 John 20:29
 John 20:27
 1 Corinthians 13:7
 John 14:3
 Matthew 28:20