Easter - John 20:1-18

          Mary Magdalene saw a stone door rolled away from the tomb. She assumed that Jesus’ body had been stolen.

          Some people see the Bible and the church as an empty place, perhaps with some old world charm – interesting enough to give a cursory glance but not staying long enough to examine the evidence and see all that’s available to see.

          Peter and the other disciple look into the empty tomb. Both saw grave clothes – but no Jesus.

          The other disciple “saw and believed.”

          The eyes of faith saw.

          What did the eyes of faith see?   - an empty tomb

                                                          - strips of linen – the grave clothes

          The other disciple examined the evidence – “why were the graveclothes neatly folded like someone might fold their pajamas in the when they rise from bed in the morning?”

          Have you seen and believed Jesus is physically raised from the dead?

         

          The witnesses have spoken. They have testified. There was: Peter, the other disciple, Mary Magdalene – she needed to have her eyes opened to the detail in the picture – the risen Jesus is the detail – He reveals Himself to all who are open to the truth - all of Jesus’ disciples and all true Christians learn to see Jesus – real – alive – living – teaching - loving – with us now in a new way.

          Today in 2015 we see the risen Jesus through the testimony of those who were there. The empty tomb and the grave clothes are a sign from God.

          People don’t always see at first. Mary Magdalene didn’t see at first. She saw the empty tomb and assumed grave robbers had been there. Even when she did see with her eyes she didn’t recognise Jesus.

She was pre-occupied with what her physical eyes could see. It was only when Jesus called her by name that she really saw and believed.

          In John 10:3 Jesus said, … The sheep hear His voice, and He calls His own sheep by name and leads them out. He first called most of you by name when you were Baptised.

          Jesus calls you by name today and He invites you to call others on His behalf. You are Jesus’ voice as Christians.

          Jesus resurrection takes us beyond the limits of human experience and reason, beyond time and this life, to eternal life with God.

          With Jesus’ death His followers had felt alone. We may feel alone in a world where families are separated around the globe because of war or need for employment, because family strife or needing to be safe.

Families are torn apart too by a culture in which you’re encouraged to develop your own individual religion focussing only on yourself. There’s an emptiness in our understanding of God being what we want Him to be – created in our own image rather than us being created in His image.

It’s a lonely place to be so self-absorbed that we don’t see the risen Jesus and the relationships He’s created for us to have with Him, our fellow believers and those who’ve yet to believe as we show them the risen Jesus.

          As the noted Christian scholar, Stephen Neil writes, “The knowledge of the ever-present Christ can reach down into the hidden depths and assure lonely modern man that he is not alone.”

          Mary Magdalene was alone – Jesus body was gone – but He reached out to comfort her with His presence. Today Jesus reaches out to touch you with His love – to comfort you – to give you hope – with His Word, with the testimony of the saints, with the witness of the person sitting beside you today.

          Jesus rose from death to set the world, you and me free from sin and its power. He rose from death for each of you to give you power to live for God and each other sharing the resurrected and renewed life.

Amen.