Rev. Dr. Ronald M. Braxton, Senior Pastor, Metropolitan AME Church
Sunday, April 4, 2010 – Easter Sunday
Scripture Lesson: John 20:1-18: Resurrection! 1-2 Early in the morning on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone was moved away from the entrance. She ran at once to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, breathlessly panting, “They took the Master from the tomb. We don’t know where they’ve put him.” 3-10Peter and the other disciple left immediately for the tomb. They ran, neck and neck. The other disciple got to the tomb first, outrunning Peter. Stooping to look in, he saw the pieces of linen cloth lying there, but he didn’t go in. Simon Peter arrived after him, entered the tomb, observed the linen cloths lying there, and the kerchief used to cover his head not lying with the linen cloths but separate, neatly folded by itself. Then the other disciple, the one who had gotten there first, went into the tomb, took one look at the evidence, and believed. No one yet knew from the Scripture that he had to rise from the dead. The disciples then went back home. 11-13But Mary stood outside the tomb weeping. As she wept, she knelt to look into the tomb and saw two angels sitting there, dressed in white, one at the head, the other at the foot of where Jesus’ body had been laid. They said to her, “Woman, why do you weep?” 13-14″They took my Master,” she said, “and I don’t know where they put him.” After she said this, she turned away and saw Jesus standing there. But she didn’t recognize him. 15Jesus spoke to her, “Woman, why do you weep? Who are you looking for?” She, thinking that he was the gardener, said, “Mister, if you took him, tell me where you put him so I can care for him.” 16Jesus said, “Mary.” Turning to face him, she said in Hebrew, “Rabboni!” meaning “Teacher!” 17Jesus said, “Don’t cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go to my brothers and tell them, ‘I ascend to my Father and your Father, my God and your God.’” 18Mary Magdalene went, telling the news to the disciples: “I saw the Master!” And she told them everything he said to her. (The Message Bible translation)
The gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John do their best to tell us the stories of Jesus’ birth, life, ministry, passion, death and now, the resurrection. They try to recapture the events for us in sequential order. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John each share their take on the miracles, teachings and events leading up to Jesus’ final days. In the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, Mary comes to the tomb with a number of women; in the gospel of John, however, Mary comes alone. The gospels each detail two days of agony – the crucifixion and the resurrection. Now, on the third day, this grief stricken woman, Mary, decides to go to the tomb to be close to Jesus’ body. She had no hopes or expectations, she was just trying to relieve her grief.
Have you ever lost a loved one? Have you ever gone to a cemetery to get relief from the loss? When Mary got to the tomb, she discovered that the stone had been moved. She saw that Jesus’ body was not there. That was just too much for the woman who was already consumed by grief – to find that Jesus’ body had gone missing was just the last straw. Overcome with grief, she wept. The two brothers closest to Jesus raced to see what had happened. They investigated; they saw his garments, but no body. They gave up the search and left immediately.
1. In every venture you undertake in life, give it your all. Whatever you take upon yourself to do in life, give it everything you have. Never let quitting become commonplace in your life, no matter how hard things get. If someone told you life is a bed of roses, they told you a “boldface lie” as they used to say when I was growing up. Life is tough; life has no sympathy for quitters. There is always someone waiting to take your place. So before you give up and walk away from something, do what Mary did at the tomb: look again!
“Life is queer with its twists and turns,
As everyone of us sometimes learns,
And many a failure turns about,
When he might have won had he stuck it out,
Don’t give up though the race seems slow,
You may succeed with another blow…
Success is failure turned inside out–
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell how close you are,
It may be near when it seems so far,
So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit–
It’s when things seem worst that you must not quit.”
Brothers and Sisters, when you undertake any venture, don’t give up! Hold on – until GOD says let go. Peter and John left the tomb empty-handed, but Mary stayed. She launched her own investigation. Don’t take anybody’s word for everything; sometimes you’ve got to do your own investigation. I know what Mama told you, what Daddy told you, but there comes a time in your life when you gotta find out for yourself. Mary wept at the empty tomb, but then she decided to LOOK AGAIN. This time, two angels were in the tomb; they asked Mary: “Woman why are you looking for the living amongst the dead?”
2. In every situation you encounter, you can trust that God will send and provide just what you need, just when you need it the most! Mary had had about as much as she could take. She needed an intervention on the part of God. She needed a miracle. In your family life, in your personal life, have you experienced a time when you did everything you could, then God stepped in and made a way out of a hopeless situation? God will step in at the right time. When the time is right, God will step in and do for us what we can’t do for ourselves. But you’ve got to be open and make yourself available to be blessed and used by God. Often we miss out on blessings because we are not available for God. He wanted to use us, to bless us with the overflow, to give us new life, to open new windows and doors so we can walk down new avenues. But we have to be available to Him!
Mary had almost given up; her spirit was low; she had little faith. She backed out of the tomb, but then she turned around and LOOKED AGAIN! This time, she saw Jesus! He may not come when we want him to, but he always comes on time! Unlike Peter and John who went home empty-handed, Mary stayed, looked again, and she saw Jesus. Sometimes, the clouds can hang so low that you can’t recognize Jesus. Jesus is not only present, but he is speaking to you. Our ancestors said “you can hear him in your heart when he calls your name”. If you look long enough, you too will be able to cry out “I know he lives!”
Don’t give up, you’d better look again…
- Sermon Notes: Living a Marked Life
- Sermon Notes: When Mountains Loom Larger Than Faith
- Sermon Notes: When You Need to Hear a Good Word
- Sermon Notes: Often Adrift, But Never Alone
- Sermon Notes: He'll Be Back
Tags: Rev. Dr. Ronald Braxton