JESUS, The Living One Alive Forever Mark 16:1-14; Revelation 1:9-18 Pastor Carey Easter Sunday April, 16 2017

A Muslim man converted to Christianity and some of his friends asked him, why.  He answered, “Suppose you were going down the road and suddenly the road forked in two directions, and you didn’t know which way to go, and there at the fork in the road were two men, one dead and one alive–which one would you ask which way to go?'”

With that being said, this is our day of great joy and laughter with and for our Lord Jesus!  Friends, He is risen…He is risen indeed!  The One who was dead is now alive again forevermore.  Death did not hold him, death will never threaten him again and death will never claim him again!  And because He lives, we too shall live now and eternally!

Our scripture lesson today is a stark contrast that provides us with two responses to Easter: 1) either we don’t believe it, or 2) we do believe and embrace Easter’s promise.  Which are you today?

Easter morning in Mark’s Gospel is not bright and sunny.  In fact if we were directing the movie, it would be dark, overcast and foggy.  Jesus’ devoted female disciples went to his tomb to finish Jesus’ burial because, in haste, the men didn’t do it right!  But once there, the heavy stone is rolled away and they see some random young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side of the tomb.  The man told them incredible news:  don’t be afraid, you are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified.  He has risen, he is not here, see for yourself where they laid him.  He is on his way to Galilee.  Go there and see him, just as he told you he would!

Wow!  Just imagine all of the emotions welling up in each of them. Then Mark says: “Trembling and bewildered, they ran away and said nothing to anyone because they were afraid.” (MK 16:8)  The rest of the chapter has Jesus appearing to others who do report it to the disciples, but they didn’t believe Jesus had been raised from the dead.  This is still part of the Easter story today.  Some still refuse to believe.

In Revelation, John has a different perspective for Easter. Exiled because of his Christian faith to the island of Patmos he hears a voice behind him and turns and sees with his own eyes, Jesus in his full glory.  John falls down in worship and awe.  The Lord puts his hand on John’s shoulder and tells him something that we all want to hear: 1) that Jesus is the first and the last and, 2) Jesus was dead, but now Jesus is alive forevermore and Jesus now holds the keys of death and hades.

When Jesus tells John that he is the first and the last he is repeating what the Christmas story reveals: Jesus is our Emmanuel (God is with us) Easter now proclaims this promise is a reality not just a far-off promise yet to come true.  God has and will be a part of our life from its beginning to its end.  There is nowhere and there has never been a time when God was not with us – whether we were aware of God’s presence or not, God was there! When Jesus tells us he is the first and the last, he is telling us that he is with us! Jesus’ final words to his disciples before his ascension were that he is always with us!  German theologian Jurgen Moltmann put Holy Week into simple, but profound perspective when he wrote: “God weeps with us so that we may someday laugh with him.”

Then Jesus tells John something we all want to hear:  He is alive forever and now has the keys to death and hades.  This is a reference to bodily death and soul death.  Jesus is now victorious over the greatest fear and obstacle facing every human: death – eternal death.

In the Gospel of John, Jesus said that he had come to bring life – abundantly (now) and eternally (after death)?  And whoever believes and trusts in Jesus will never die but they shall have a whole and everlasting life (John 3:16).  Easter is victory day because life has returned through Jesus – the One who is alive forever and forever!

First century Christians had a strange custom. They would go out to their graveyards with laurel wreaths like those used to crown winners of athletic contests and place them on the graves. It was their reminder that because of their faith in Jesus Christ they had received victory over the power of death!

This is our day of great joy and laughter with and for our Lord Jesus!  Friends, He is risen…He is risen indeed!  The One who was dead is now alive again forevermore.  Death did not hold him, death will never threaten him again and death will never claim him again!  And because He lives, we too shall live now and eternally!

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