Go and Tell - Matthew 28:1-10 (Easter Sunrise)
It’s early y’all. It’s not a lot different that it was for the women on that morning nearly two thousand years ago. It would have been a little cool, the grass damp from the morning dew. The birds may have been singing. The sun was slowly breaking over the horizon. The women, though, were probably oblivious to it all. Their world had settled into eternal darkness on that Friday afternoon when the skies grew black, and if black can get darker, it did for them as Joseph of Arimethea and Nicodemus took the body of Jesus off the cross, laid it in an empty tomb, and then sealed it shut. These women would have taken no notice of birds singing and the sun climbing into the sky. Some of you here can relate. You have laid a loved one to rest. You know what it is like to be cold, numb, and blind to what is going on in the rest of the world…you just know that your world is dark. Like many here who spend time in the cemetery talking with or being near our loved one, Mary and Mary were focused on one thing and one thing only, being near Jesus. Maybe they felt just being near him would help them feel less lost. Maybe they wanted to just talk to him, knowing the only answer might be simply a feeling they got, a remembrance of a word He spoke, or simply silence.
Yet, as they arrived, their world that was literally and figuratively shaken up on Friday, shook once again. With the great rattling of an earthquake an angel of the Lord rolled back the stone that had sealed Jesus away from the rest of the world. The guards became so afraid, they fainted—and we know that for a guard or military man to collapse, the event had to have been shocking.
It doesn’t tell us this, but the women were bound to have been on the verge of shock themselves. The angel, however, speaks words of comfort and peace to them, “Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus…but he’s not here. Come, see for yourself. You watched him being laid in this tomb…you watched it being sealed shut. You just saw it open up. Come, look for yourself, He’s not here, He’s been raised just like he told you.”
I picture them cautiously approaching the tomb…not knowing what to expect, carefully peeking in to the darkness of the grave, the only light radiating from the angel, yet it was enough for them to see that the angel was right, the body of Jesus was gone. What the angel of God had told them was true. Jesus had been raised from the dead.
Yet this revelation was not something that the two Mary’s were to keep for themselves. This was not an experience that they were simply to treasure in the hearts. It was not something for their benefit only. After being invited to come and see, the angel turned right around and said, “go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead….” Come and see…go quickly and tell….go quickly and tell…go quickly and tell.
The women rushed away to find where the disciples had hidden themselves away…hiding away to keep from meeting the same fate as Jesus…and hiding from those who would likely be pointing out all that they had left behind only to follow a Messiah who was killed without a fight…and possibly hiding away to keep others from seeing just how grieved they were. The women rushed to find them, that they might come out of hiding, and experience the great news that they had discovered…Jesus is raised from the dead…He is alive.
And while they are running to find the disciples, Jesus Himself appears to them, confirming the words that the angel had spoken. The women worshipped at the feet of their risen friend and Savior. Jesus, though, reminded them that this great news was for more than them, “…go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”
Later on, a mere eight verses from where we stopped this morning, Matthew relates how the disciples encounter the risen Christ on the mountain in Galilee. After they had come to terms with the encounter, worshipping the risen Christ, Jesus told them, as he had told the women, “Go therefore, and make disciples of all nations…[Go and tell]…and remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
My brothers and sisters, we have gathered this morning in darkness. For some of us the darkness was not merely about the sun not having crested the skyline…for some of us the darkness was darkness that filled our hearts and minds…the darkness that comes when we have lost a loved one…the darkness that comes with illness…the darkness that comes with bad news…the darkness that comes with broken relationships…the darkness that makes us think that our dreams and hopes have ended….
Yet the fact that we gathered to celebrate and worship the risen Christ is a message to our hearts and minds. The message is to come and see, Christ is not dead, God is not dead, God is in control…the darkness may come on Friday…it may fill our lives for a while, but Sunday’s coming…the sun is going to rise…the Son has risen…God will take away our darkness and fill it with himself, the Light of the World…the promise that He will be with us always…that we are never alone…God says, “Come and see, Christ has risen, Hope still lives…but don’t keep this news to yourselves…to much of the world still finds itself in the darkness of hopelessness…some come and see…come and worship…then Go and tell…Jesus Christ is alive!”
In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.