Easter Sunday Sunrise – 4/1/2018 – Scripture Luke 24:33-49
Rev. Mylicia Markham
Let’s assume that we have the privilege to be with the women, going to the tomb on that first
As you come toward the tomb, you notice, as you arrived, there in the garden there were no
soldiers! You remember, soldiers had been stationed there to guard the tomb at least for the
first three days.
A Roman Guard unit usually consisted of 16 soldiers. Four of them would stand side-by-side in
front of the tomb. The other 12 would gather in a semi-circle behind them facing inward.
Every four hours the soldiers who were standing in front of that which they guarded would take
their place in the circle; rotating in order to keep the soldiers fresh.
But on that morning, there were no soldiers.
We get closer to the tomb itself the stone is missing but along with the missing stone is the
missing seal. A seal over the tomb meant that it was officially closed. They would have taken a
rope and stretched it across the stone-affixed it with wax to each side of the sepulcher. Then
the Roman guard would put their signet ring in the wax signaling that this was officially closed.
Now what about the stone? A stone would have been needed to cover an opening four and a
half to five feet and the conservative estimates are that such a stone would had to weigh in at
one and a half to two tons. But the women did not see the stone in front of the opening and it
wasn’t even in the groove that had been placed there to help them move the stone.
In the gospel of John 20:1 – the word “removed” there meant to pick something up and carry it
The women who came to the tomb early on Easter Sunday morning were moving among the
rocks with no such illusions that they would find any life there.
That’s why they came with spices that morning. You didn’t bring spices along unless you were
expecting to find death amid the stones. Jewish burial rites at the time meant anointing the
dead body with spices to hasten decomposition and cut down the smell. Then, a year later, they
came back among the rocks and gathered the remaining bones. They put them in a stone box
called an ossuary, and then put the box in a niche in the back of the tomb. That same tomb
would be used in the same way, for the same family many times over.
Inside that tomb was two angels….one at the foot; and one at the head of where Jesus would
Facing the Cross-Facing Forgiveness
That morning they came to anoint the body of the one whom they had hoped would bring new
life to a world desperately looking for it. When Jesus of Nazareth had been with them, they felt
like anything was possible. They had seen people healed from disease, had seen demons cast
out with a word, and had even seen the dead brought back to life. They had heard him talk
about the kingdom of God, which sounded to them like a whole new world, sustaining a
different kind of life than the one they were used to — a world where the first become last and
the last first; a world where violence and pain are no more; a world where the brokenness and
sins of the past are forgiven; and where everything is made new.
The women discover the empty tomb, and report to the apostles that two angels have told
them that Jesus has risen. But the women are not believed — at least not initially. The next
thing we observe that morning was Peter and John running to the tomb. John got there first,
he’s younger but Peter went in first. John following him. They saw the linen cloths lying there,
the cloth that had been around His head not lying with the linen cloth but folded together in a
place by itself.
We know the Easter morning story. The women. The empty tomb. Angels. The apostles.
While the empty tomb is of HUGE importance to our faith, it’s what happens at the table, after
the tomb that spurs the movement forward.
So that’s Easter morning, followed by Easter afternoon. Call the Road to Emmaus.
Luke continues with….”Now on the same day…….”Two disciples — one named Cleopas —the
other unknown, make the seven-mile trip from Jerusalem to Emmaus, and along the way they
encounter a mysterious stranger, who interprets the Scriptures for them. When he joins them
for dinner, he breaks bread with them, and their eyes are opened and they recognize him — it’s
Jesus! Scripture then says, “He vanishes from their sight.” (vv. 13-31).
Easter evening has never packed the punch of Easter morning, mainly because it involves a
table instead of a tomb.
The two disciples race back to Jerusalem, and find the 11 and their companions in a dining
room. Jesus appears, and scares them — they think they’re seeing a ghost (v. 37). But he says,
“Touch me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” And
then to prove it, he asks them for some food. They give him a piece of broiled fish, and he eats
it in their presence (vv. 38-43).
Then sitting around the table, Jesus tells them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I
was still with you — that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and
the psalms must be fulfilled.” He opens their minds to understand the Scriptures, and says to
them that what was written has come true — the Messiah has suffered and risen from the dead,
and now “repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations,
beginning now from Jerusalem” (vv. 44-47).
Facing the Cross-Facing Forgiveness
The apostles are probably wondering who’s supposed to do this work of proclaiming repentance
and forgiveness. You could almost see Jesus leaning across the table and making it clear – as a
father does to his children. “You are witnesses of these things,” he says. “And see, I am
sending upon you what my Father promised; so stay here in the city until you have been
clothed with power from on high” (vv. 48-49).
We don’t know from Luke’s gospel the amount of time because he said (Luke 24:50) “When he
had led them out………” But, from the 1st Chapter of Acts verse 3, also accredited to Luke, we
see that for a period of 40 days he appeared to them.
We do know that Jesus- when he leads them away from the table, one that’s no doubt still
covered with dirty dishes. He hikes them out to Bethany, gives them a blessing … and is carried
up into heaven.
The Easter season ends with the ascension, according to Acts-40 days between resurrection and
The apostles return to Jerusalem, worshiping Jesus, and they bless God continually in the
temple (vv. 50-53).
Notice what has happened here, on this first Easter. The mission of the apostles begins not with
a visit to a tomb that’s empty, but to a table full of food — (broiled fish) — conversation, talk of
We underestimate the significance of what happens when we break bread together. The
disciples first recognized Jesus when “he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them”
(v. 30). Jesus gave the apostles their marching orders as part of an after-dinner conversation.
Sharing the good news is a family legacy that Jesus wants his followers to be a part of — a
legacy of proclaiming a message of repentance and forgiveness. He wants the disciples to
maintain the cycle of gratitude and generosity that they’re feeling in his presence — gratitude
that death has been conquered by the resurrection, and generosity and forgiveness toward
those who need to hear this good news.
It all begins right here. Around the table on this Easter morning.
As the disciples embark on their mission, they are clearly not “self-made” — they are Jesusshaped.
Acts also tells us that Peter proclaims that everyone who believes in Jesus “receives
forgiveness of sins through his name” — that’s the legacy of the risen Christ (10:43). Everyone
who believes in him receives forgiveness and new life.
Facing the Cross-Facing Forgiveness
In one of the most violent of death possible, Jesus last words include- Father, forgive them for
they do not know what they do. Jesus (Luke 6:28) said, “Bless those who curse you,” “and
pray for those who hurt you.”
Because of this very morning, we face the cross; because of this morning we face an empty
tomb; because of this very morning we face forgiveness. In the same way that Jesus shed his
blood to forgive my sins that I could be forgiven, today by faith, because of what He did for me.
I’m choosing by faith to forgive to Trust in Jesus. How about you? It’s a good day for a good
He is Risen; He is Risen Indeed.
Let’s continue the conversation around the table….and beyond as we celebrate communion.
In the name of the Father Son and Holy Spirit. Amen