John 20:1-18
Easter Vigil

Here we are early on the first day of the week, not gathered outside of a tomb, but outside of our church, like the other disciple we know to be John we will wait outside, he was unsure of whether to enter in, we know that we are allowed to enter in, for worship and to receive God’s gifts for us.

We are out here though so that we can have a live fire, so that we can experience the sky becoming brighter as the new day dawns, to have in front of us a somewhat large representation of the cross of Christ.  It is from the cross that Jesus was taken and laid in a borrowed tomb.  It is a reminder to us that the cross is now empty.  I like that we have stones here in front of us too to remind us of the stone that was rolled away from the front of the tomb.

When Mary came to the tomb and noticed that the stone had been rolled away she ran to the disciples distressed because she feared that grave robbers had taken his body.  She must have wanted their help to find out where they had put him.

The response was for Simon Peter and John to go running to the tomb to see for themselves, they had to make sure before they began the search.

When they arrived they found that what Mary had said was true.  John bent over to peek inside and saw the strips of linen but wasn’t prepared to enter.  Peter went boldly in and eventually John followed, he saw that the linen was still there, and he believed, but as we heard they didn’t yet understand what Scripture had said that Jesus had to rise from the dead.  So they left and went back to where they are staying.

Then Mary returned and thought she was alone as she was weeping, as she bent over to look into the tomb she saw two angels sitting there.  They asked her why she was crying and she stated, “They have taken my Lord away and I don’t know where they have taken him”.  Then she turned around and saw Jesus and mistook him for a gardener.  When he spoke her name she recognised him.

Does this sound familiar?  Remember when Jesus said I am the Good Shepherd, when I call their name they answer me.  At the sound of Jesus calling Mary’s name she recognised him.  Jesus told her that he must ascend to be with his Father and our Father, his God and our God.  It was important that she should go and tell the others what she had seen and heard.

Many of you were here on Friday and heard the passion account, the story of Jesus crucifixion.  You experienced again the horror and the devastation of knowing that it was your sins that sent the innocent son of God to his death on a cross.  Today we are gathered to rejoice at the new light that has come into the world through his resurrection from the dead.  Jesus appeared to Mary as the first one chosen to see him in his resurrected state.  The message of that resurrection and his pending ascension into heaven were shared with others so that we too might know the truth and so that the truth might set us free.

He is risen!

Prophecy has been fulfilled, Scripture has been fulfilled, our Lord came and suffered as a servant, like a lamb to the slaughter in silence, he gave his life for our sake, and rose again in accordance with the Scriptures, once again for our sake.

We should no longer weep and live in despair as Mary was on that cool morning outside of Jerusalem.  We should listen for his voice, calling our name, and recognise him as our teacher, our saviour, our redeemer.  He has claimed us to be his own and to live with him forever.  Why are you crying?  There is no need for crying or despair, rejoice in his resurrection and his victory over death for us.

When you see an empty cross, remember that he was once nailed to it for your sake.  When you see linen bandages remember that he died for you and rose again so that you might live in the light instead of grovelling around in the darkness.

He is risen!