Donnell Wyche — April 4, 2021
Today is Resurrection Sunday.
As my grandmother would say,
He is risen,
He is risen indeed!
He is risen.
A simple shorthand to explain so much.
Every Death Buys Something – Oops
Last week on Palm Sunday, we entered into the Holy Week story as Jesus entered Jerusalem from the East gate, while the Roman governor of region, Pontius Pilate, entered the city with all the power, authority, and force of the Empire from the West. Neither were very aware of each other, but as the week came to a close, Pilate would become acquainted with Jesus because Pilate would order Jesus’ death, a death usually reserved for those who committed sedition, those who threaten the Pax Romana, the death of a usurper, death on a Roman cross.
His death isn’t the end of the story, Let’s turn to John 20:1
Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. (John 20:1)
It was the first day of the week, and it was dark. Does that sound familiar? It should! It’s the beginning of the creation narrative, where we find the earth unproductive, empty and dark.
John is setting the stage for us, darkness on the first morning of a new week.
He is invoking our memory, he wants us to see something, he wants us to understand something. “This is important, God’s about to do something… don’t miss it!” Not all is lost. Though it seems that there is no reason to hope, keep hope alive.
…the earth was unproductive, empty and dark… and the Spirit of God was hovering of the waters. (Genesis 1:2)
Just as the Spirit of God hovered over the waters before creation, God’s Spirit is at work again.
John is setting us up for a big explosion, similar to the first words of the first speaker in this grand story. Life is about burst onto the scene where there was no life.
Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot. They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”
“They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.”
At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.
He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”
Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”
Jesus said to her, “Mary.” (John 20:11-16)
Where does Mary have her first encounter with the resurrected Jesus? In a garden. John wants us to think of the Garden of Eden and of humanity’s original task, which was to care for this garden. Who does Mary confuse Jesus with?
The gardener–John is going to great pains to make the comparison. The gardener is back in his garden with his creation again.
Just as Adam stood as the first human of the old world, Jesus now stands at the gate of the new world, the first of the new creation. Jesus isn’t dead, Jesus is echoing something that God says in Revelation, “Look here! I’m making all things new!”
Behold, I’m Making All Things New – Whee
The only time we hear from God in Revelation is when God declares,
“Look here! I am making all things new!” Revelation 21:5
There’s this invitation from God for us to see the Resurrection, what we are here to celebrate today, Easter, in another light. Easter isn’t the happy ending of the Gospel story; it’s deeper than that. Rather, “, where all things are being made new.
No fear. No shame. No death. Yeah!
When we accept the universe as a zero-sum game, all we have is infinite sorrow.
But — God acted on Easter, the resurrection is the breakthrough that forever opens the universe to possibility of life, and, if we allow it, drains our fear!
This is good news!
We don’t have to be afraid.
Picture with me, God standing before us opening this door into a new world and realm of possibility, forever reversing the effects of our participation in the rebellion. It’s the same posture that God has always had for us, inviting us to take one step towards him.
No fear. No shame. No death.
And Life. Full life!
Since God doesn’t change, what’s different? It’s our perspective and understanding of God that changes.
We have to change our perspective in order to enter into the new creation, the new world order that God invites us to participate in.
Into a hurting despairing world, God through the Spirit of Truth invites us to imagine a world beyond violence, war, greed, poverty, disease, exploitation, the tyranny of economic self-interest, and beyond the wreckage of ruthless competition.
God invites us into life, a new kind of life, resurrected life.
The Spirit’s first task is to form a community to share in the salvation that Jesus is bringing from the “age to come” into “this present age.”
We take hold of his salvation by doing what Peter instructs us to do:
“Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:38)
We take hold of the salvation that Jesus won for us on the cross, when we surrender our allegiance to sin and death. We reject their twin claims on our life and turn our back on them. And we have to die. When Jesus call us, he calls us to come and die, so we may come alive.