Jesus' resurrection declares that God has the final say and that He is the God of the past, present and future.
As a text I have chosen the words of the angel in Mark 16:6&7:
"He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’”
This reminds us that even when we are not sure of what lies ahead of us, we can be sure that Christ is going ahead of us. And that, I would hope, is rather good news for you and for me this morning.
Different people respond to good news in different ways. Some bubble over with excitement; some take it in their stride;some worry about the small print. When Mary Magdalene saw the tomb was empty, she ran to tell the others (v 2). When John arrived, he stood at the tomb's entrance, taking in the reality of this completely unexpected and strange turn of events, presumably not knowing what to do next (v 5). When Peter got there, he rushed straight into the tomb and examined the burial cloths in detail (vs 6&7). Faith doesn't override differences of temperament: God loves to bring out the potential of our individuality.
Mary's response was the most emotional. She stayed outside the tomb weeping (v 11). She felt helpless because she didn't know where Jesus' body had been taken. When someone approached her, she assumed he was the gardener. Only when He spoke her name did she realise it was Jesus (v 16). And then, she once again went to tell the others of her latest discovery (v 18).
The angels knew what was going on, but the humans took a little longer to grasp the wonder of God's plan.
John sees, Peter examines and Mary encounters: three temperaments, three distinctive experiences, but one Risen Lord. The Risen Christ doesn't squeeze us into the same mold, but He invites us to grow in the one faith according to our particular personality. We should be careful not to impose on others what's only natural to someone with our particular kind of temperament; don't demand that others have the same experience of Christ as we have. We need to appreciate there are different paths but one Saviour, different journeys but one saving confession: Jesus is Lord and alive today!
It didn't have to be like that -- Jesus could have stayed at the tomb to explain exactly what was happening -- but He didn't, did He? The gospel writers don't record that He said: "Hello Mary, it's me, Jesus" or "Hello John, it's me" or "Peter, Peter, I'm here."
It was not that way on that first Easter morning, and it's not that way now. Oh, we wish it were that way ... but it isn't!
We have to go looking for Jesus, based on our faith that the Risen Lord is to be found where we are and in whatever we are going through ... and that He is also already calling us from the place where He wants us to be in the future ... remember, "I know the plans I have for you" and "I am going to prepare a place for you, so that where I am you may be also."
This is what makes Christianity, and discipleship in particular, a journey, not a destination. That's why in all the resurrection accounts there is movement. That's why in the Sermon on the Mount, where Jesus describes life in the Kingdom of God, He describes it as a life of seeking, of asking and of knocking.
Friends, how is that journey going? Or, in the words of John Bunyan: "Are you progressing, pilgrim?" Are you journeying in the faith, or are you still sitting at the place where you found Jesus?
Since we met here last Easter, have you moved on spiritually, moving on from what Scripture calls the milk to the solid stuff of the abundant Christian life (1 Cor 3:1-3 & Heb 5:11-14)? Are you in the words of Christ, taking up your cross daily? Are you finding that the more you ask for the things of the Kingdom, the more you are receiving the things of the Kingdom, for Jesus Himself said: "... it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the Kingdom"? Likewise are you finding that the more you seek first the Kingdom of God, the more you are finding so much more than you expected, because He said "seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well"?
Are these prophecies that Jesus made over your life and over my life being fulfilled in your life? If not, then it is probably because you are still sitting at that place, no doubt a beautiful place, where you first met the Risen Lord. To you I would say this Easter Sunday morning: "Rise up and walk, and move to the place where He is, even now, waiting to meet you. And don't hesitate any longer."
And to those who are journeying in the Kingdom, who are daily seeking ... where can I serve you today, Lord? In whom will I meet you today, Lord? ...
to those who are asking daily ... how can I be more obedient today, Lord? Who do you want me to feed today, Lord? ...
and to those who are knocking ... is it here, Lord? Is it there , Lord? ...
to those who are walking the walk on that road which Jesus said is a narrow and difficult road with few people on it (Mt 7:14)...
in other words, to all who have moved on to the solid food of the Kingdom life, I close with these words from the Apostle Paul:
The power working in us is the same as the might strength which God used when He raised Christ from death (Eph 1:19-20)
Resurrection power is in you and me as we move towards the place where Christ is waiting to meet us.