Sunday, 24 April 2011

Run: A Sermon for Easter Sunday with reference to John 20

(John 20:1) It was early. Still dark. A woman, Mary Magdalene, was the first to the tomb. The stone that had blocked the entrance had been moved aside. The tomb was open. She thought someone had taken the LORD's body out of the tomb and didn't know where he was. It must have been pretty close to the last straw for her. The week had been hell. The arrest, the mockery of a trial, watching Him die. Now this. A lesser woman might have collapsed in anguish; paralyzed by grief, stress and fatigue. Not Mary Magdalene, she realized she needed help so she took off (John 20:2) and came running to Simon Peter and John. She didn't freeze, she didn't walk, she ran.

There are times when we have to run for help. To stay in a situation and just wring our hands does us no good. We've got to go for help. We've got to move. Anyone run to church this morning? When you think about it, our need for the help the LORD provides is at least as urgent as Mary's need for help. Without the benefits Jesus provided this weekend—Cross and Resurrection—we're in serious trouble. We'd better run. It's that important and without Jesus our situation is that desperate. Really.

I don't know how desperate Mary felt. In any case, she ran. When she got there (John 20:2)  she told Simon Peter and John what she had seen. They listened and (John 20:3) they ran back to the tomb.

What does it take to make you run? Some people run just for the sake of it. For the exercise. You might run to escape danger. You might run to rescue someone else who is in danger. You might run to catch someone. You might run just because you really need to know what the situation is with someone or something you really care about. Simon Peter and John ran because they loved Jesus and they wanted to find out what had happened to him.

Simon Peter and John weren’t racing each other but (John 20:4) John outran Simon Peter and reached the tomb first. Then (John 20:6) Simon Peter was first into the tomb. Finally, (John 20:8) John went in, saw and believed.

Here we all are. None of us ran to get here, but those of you who bought kids with you this morning may feel as if you have. What did you come to see? Are you seeing, or hearing, or sensing anything which makes you believe that the tomb to which they ran was empty? I’m not asking you whether you understand what, or how, it happened. (John 20:9) Simon Peter and John didn’t. But they believed.

Mary didn’t understand either. (John 20:11) She was outside the tomb crying. When Jesus arrived (John 20:14), at first she didn’t recognize him.

Think about that. It wasn’t that Jesus was absent; he was there, it was just that she didn’t recognize him. I wonder how many times that’s happened to you and me. We’ve been somewhere—perhaps even a church service—and we’ve thought, “Can’t see Jesus here,” when the problem is with our poor earth-bound, through-a-glass-darkly eyes and we just don’t recognize him.
v15 “Woman,” he said, “why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?” 
Who are you looking for this morning? The Risen Jesus? Or, something or someone else? Are you here to make yourself feel better? To please your mother? To solve your problems?
v16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.” 
Listen for Jesus. Jesus knows who you are. Jesus knows your name. Is He calling your name today. Look for Jesus. Run to Jesus. He is alive. He is Risen from the dead. Jesus is here in his word written, in the bread and the wine, in his followers. Run in your hearts! Run in your minds! Run away from anything that keeps you away from him. Don’t worry about anybody outrunning you. Just run. Come to the table. Receive his body and blood. Believe and he will give you eternal life. Run.