Sermon: “A Personal Resurrection”
Prepared by Carl Schaefer
Sunday, April 4th, 2010
For Rural Chapel United Methodist Church
Relationships that are live-changing are most often built upon experience, trust, and example. It hardly seems a surprise that the Gospel of John puts Mary Magdalene at the tomb first….someone whose life Jesus had touched in a special way. But that relationship, like most lives Jesus had touched, had been washed through moments of forgiveness, healing, the wisdom of the Father, and trust built upon the truth of his word. The Gospel writer wanted us to see the resurrected Lord through that relationship; for Mary Jesus’ death was personal and John has us see the risen Lord through her tears. And the Gospel of John has Jesus appearing to her first. For Mary, and now for us, the resurrection must be personal.
Little Philip, born with Down's syndrome, attended a third-grade Sunday School class with several eight-year-old boys and girls. Typical of that age, the children did not readily accept Philip with his differences, according to an article in Leadership magazine. But because of a creative teacher, they began to care about Philip and accept him as part of the group, though not fully. The Sunday after Easter the teacher brought Leggs pantyhose containers, the kind that look like large eggs. Each receiving one, the children were told to go outside on that lovely spring day, find some symbol for new life, and put it in the egg-like container. Back in the classroom, they would share their new-life symbols, opening the containers one by one in surprise fashion. After running about the church property in wild confusion, the students returned to the classroom and placed the containers on the table. Surrounded by the children, the teacher began to open them one by one. After each one, whether flower, butterfly, or leaf, the class would ooh and ahh. Then one was opened, revealing nothing inside. The children exclaimed, "That's stupid. That's not fair. Somebody didn't do their assignment." Philip spoke up, "That's mine." "Philip, you don't ever do things right!" the student retorted. "There's nothing there!" I did so do it," Philip insisted. "I did do it. It's empty. the tomb was empty!" Silence followed. From then on Philip became a full member of the class.
He died not long afterward from an infection most normal children would have shrugged off. At the funeral this class of eight-year-olds marched up to the altar not with flowers, but with their Sunday school teacher, each to lay on it an empty pantyhose egg.
1. The key phrase for me that I want to share in the passage is: “She turned and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni” (which means teacher).
In other words, she recognized Jesus.
2. You have heard of the phrase that there is a difference between “knowing of Jesus” and “knowing Jesus.”
>It is one thing to know of God’s mercy, love and grace, but another to experience it.
>It is one thing to forgive someone of something, maybe even something that someone did to you, but another to be forgiven.
>It is one thing to be a part of healing someone else, but yet another to be healed.
>And to experience washing some else’s feet, but yet another to have one’s own feet washed.
3. The truth of the matter is one thing, but to believe it and accept it as one’s personal truth is yet another. Faith is like this, but yet even more profound. Faith cannot always be proven, but faith in the truth is what can be trusted.
4. It was that truth that Martha trusted before Lazarus was raised from the dead, when she said in John 11: 27, “Yes Lord, I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God.”
5. For the disciple Thomas, it was one thing to hear of Jesus’ resurrection, but yet another for him to put his finger into Jesus’ side that had been pierced and say, “My Lord and my God.”
6. And now for Mary Magdalene, when she first saw Jesus in the garden following the resurrection, she first called him “Sir,” as you might politely address a stranger:
“If you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”
7. And then she recognized his voice, “Mary” out of the relationship she had had with Jesus, she recognized her name being called like a lamb recognizing the voice of its shepherd.
8. Today, the resurrection must become a reality that goes beyond what you have heard and read about, it must become “a personal resurrection” of what you trust as truth, a truth upon which you entrust you future – eternity.
9. Out of this personal relationship that you have with your risen Lord, the One that has been raised from the dead, you confess: “I am saved!”
10, Martha owned it; Thomas owned it; Mary owned it! Now you have to own it. We have to claim the truth.
11. Let us review once again the Good News Paul asks us to own the truth as stated in Romans 10: 9. “That if you confess (you base you faith upon) that “Jesus is Lord” and believe in your heart (trust) that God raised Him (Jesus) from the dead, you will be saved!”
10. Remember at the beginning I said that that the truth of the matter is one thing, but to believe it and accept it as one’s personal truth is yet another. I said that faith is like this, but yet even more profound. Faith cannot always be proven, but faith in the truth is what can be trusted. Easter People, I ask you to own the truth of the one and only one who can be trusted – the one that Risen – Jesus Christ.
This story personalizes the trust we have in the resurrection.
One day, while my son Zac and I were out in the country, climbing around in some cliffs, I heard a voice from above me yell, "Hey Dad! Catch me!" I turned around to see Zac joyfully jumping off a rock straight at me. He had jumped and them yelled "Hey Dad!" I became an instant circus act, catching him. We both fell to the ground. For a moment after I caught him I could hardly talk.
When I found my voice again I gasped in exasperation: "Zac! Can you give me one good reason why you did that???"
He responded with remarkable calmness: "Sure...because you're my Dad." His whole assurance was based in the fact that his father was trustworthy. He could live life to the hilt because I could be trusted. Isn't this even more true for a Christian?
Tim Hansel, Holy Sweat, 1987, Word Books Publisher, pp. 46-47.
To be Easter People, we can call out to “ABBA Father” and jump – for He is risen!