After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.
There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.
The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”
So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”
The signs of spring are all around us. The grass is green. The birds are chirping. And flowers are springing up out of the ground. One sure sign that spring is here is the sight of the road construction crews out in full force. This year was such a severe winter that the roads really took a hard hit this year. So all over town there are patching crews and repaving crews trying to redo the damage that the winter had done. And while it certainly will be nice to have freshly paved streets, it does mean that you’ll run into a road block every so often.
Sometimes there are times when you’re in the car and in a hurry, and one of the last things that you want to see are those road blocks in your path. But as frustrating as that might be, there are still ways to get around those road blocks. You can wait for the construction crews to wave you through, or there’s always a detour to go where you want.
But the barriers on the streets aren’t like the one that the women visiting Jesus’ tomb encountered on the first Easter. When they were on their way to the tomb, all they could think about and all their conversation was on how they could roll the stone away to get to Jesus. The stone was too big for them to move on their own. And then there were the Roman guards on duty and the seal of the governor to make sure everyone would stay out.
But the stone wasn’t the real barrier that kept those women away from their friend. The real barrier was death. Just days before they had been with Jesus at his cross and they saw something that their eyes just didn’t want to believe. They saw him cry out in pain from the physical torture that he felt on the cross. They heard him scream in agony, when he suffered the torments of hell on the cross, bearing the brunt of the sins of the world. And then they saw him go from life to death. And all that was left hanging on that tree was the lifeless body of Jesus. And this death seemed to have trapped their friend. And it trapped their hopes – of being with him, being with their friend. And the stone that was rolled in front of Jesus’ tomb, that’s the symbol of the gate being locked to keep Jesus from them for good.
But on Easter, an angel came to roll that huge stone away and show that the bigger road block was gone too. Jesus was alive! He had risen. He had risen to free us!
He has freed us from everything that hopes to trap us and keep us locked away – the guilt that convicts us, the sin that controls us, and death that threatens to contain us.
But Christ is risen. He has risen to free us! Our guilt - that has been removed. Our sin, no doubt, that has been taken care because Jesus payment was sufficient and final on the cross so he could rise from the dead. And death? Death no longer can contain us because just as Christ lives, you too will live. You have nothing more to fear. Absolutely nothing.
That is the precious truth of Easter. Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! He has risen to free us!
God’s blessings and Happy Easter,
Pastor Nick Schmoller