Rev. Chris Snow
North HIll Christian Church
April 4, 2021
Luke 24:1-12, Psalm 118: 17, 21-24
As is the case every year on April 1st, in the various forms of print and electronic media there are these stories that seem a bit too good to be true, until we do a bit more digging. Those moments when we remember that it is April 1st but still a part of us hopes that the story is indeed true. It gets our hopes up. It gets us excited, until we dig a bit deeper and find that it was just another prank.
It is with these same types of emotions that I imagine Peter hearing and responding to the news of the empty tomb by the women who had first witnessed it. Hoping that this news is indeed true but not believing it until it can be fact checked.
But let’s back things up a bit. Let’s not jump too far ahead. As we begin to remember the Easter narrative, we don’t start off in a time of celebration or hope. Rather we find ourselves in this moment of mourning. This moment of taking care of what needs to be done to lay Jesus’ body to rest. As many of us have experienced the loss of a loved one or dear friend we can probably relate to what is happening.
As we hear of the women making their way to the tomb to care for the body of Jesus, I can only imagine the conversations that took place. Those conversations of remembrance of all those moments that they had with him. Those moments of sharing stories. Sharing with one another those personal details and things that they learned from him. Reminiscing in those moments of great joy.
But as they find themselves in front of the tomb with the stone rolled away, I can only imagine their initial reaction. Time to do damage control. Time to figure out what went wrong here. Time to figure out what needs to be fixed so that everything can be in its proper place. Making sure nothing has been desecrated and that they can continue on with their responsibilities.
But that is when everything goes awry. Nothing is desecrated, or needs fixing, except the body of the savior is missing, and before they could start their search two men in dazzling clothes show up. In the New International Version it describes the clothes as gleaming like lightning. This visual effect that tells us of the importance of these two men.
These men show up and the women instantly know to avert their eyes. Something special is happening, so it is proper to show reverence. In that moment the news is delivered that Jesus has risen. But it isn’t simply breaking news, but news as a reminder. “Remember, he told you this was going to happen.” Remember all that he said about his death and this is the day he said he would rise again. In that moment all the women, who had been sharing their memories on their way to the tomb, remember together all that Jesus had told them.
As the women returned to where the apostles were, they shared all that they had seen, but the apostles didn’t remember quite as easily. Was it the messengers of this news? Was it too far fetched for them to believe? What ever the case, they did not believe them and continued on with their mourning. Continued on with the remembrances. Continued in their conversations.
That is all except for Peter, who hoped so much that it was indeed true that he got up and ran to the tomb, to verify this news. Putting all reason aside, and instead relying upon his hope that all that had been said was true.
It is in that moment that we find ourselves this morning, and each time that we continue on relying upon our faith that gives us hope that God does indeed know what is going on and has a plan for us.
That like the disciples who answered the call, putting aside their nets to pursue a different path, we find ourselves in places that we may not have originally had in mind if it were not for our faith. Like the disciples, we put our faith in the divine and have followed where God has led.
Yet it is in the Easter narrative that we hear good news of God’s power over death, that gives us hope. Not in hearing the good news for the first time but in remembering God’s faithfulness to God’s promises. That even in the darkest of times, the holy followed through in the resurrection, as Jesus had declared would happen.
But as we hear Peter’s reaction and celebration, I feel it is important to point out that according to Luke, Peter did not encounter the risen Christ. Just the empty tomb and maybe the two men. But he found enough confirmation in the empty tomb to believe. He found what he needed to, to remember all that Jesus had said about his death and resurrection to return home in amazement.
As we hear the narrative of the resurrection anew today, let it not simply be a time of remembering the divine’s triumph over death, but also a recognition and remembrance of God’s faithfulness to God’s people. That the divine continues to stay true to their word. That the holy follows through even in the darkest of times with a bright light of hope. Hope that is worth pursuing. Hope that is worth laying reason aside to run after it as Peter ran to confirm the news that we celebrate this day.