The Easter story shows us how the Kingdom of God meets us where we are, how the light continues to lengthen, bringing about real change. It is a story which transcends time and is as relevant today as it was two thousand years ago.
April 17, 2022
“Lengthening the Light For Real Change”
Remember What He Told You
Pastor Heather McColl
Luke 24: 1-12
But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb, taking the spices that they had prepared. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in, they did not find the body. While they were perplexed about this, suddenly two men in dazzling clothes stood beside them. The women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again.”
Then they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb, they told all this to the eleven and to all the rest. Now it was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them who told this to the apostles. But these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. But Peter got up and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; then he went home, amazed at what had happened.
Remember What He Told You Luke 24:1-12
Here we are on Easter morning, celebrating the resurrection story of our Lord and Savior, our Savior who leaves the tomb, our Savior who steps out of the darkness, our Savior who overcomes death. We gather on this Easter morning to once again celebrate our Savior who brings us new life.
Yet, if we read Luke’s version of this story, this was not the expectation on that first Easter morning all those years ago. The women go to the tomb, ready to prepare the body, ready to encounter death, ready to close the door on all that they had experienced with Jesus. Only to discover a new beginning waiting for them. It was at the empty tomb, where the women encountered two men, glowing in white, who simply say to the women, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen.”
The interesting thing to note is that the very next word spoken to the women is “Remember.” I don’t know about you…but if I had just announced that Jesus had been raised from the dead, I don’t think my next word would have been “Remember.” Maybe more like, “Alleluia!” while being joined by a chorus of angels, filling the skies with their song, as was done at Jesus’ birth. Or maybe, just maybe, as a way to break the tension of the moment, I might have shouted out, “Surprise! I bet you weren’t expecting that!”
But “Remember”…..in this glorious, surprising, unexpected moment when Love and life has overcome death, who says, “Remember”? Where is the excitement in that?
I have to tell you that as I have lived with the text this past week, I have found myself becoming frustrated with the author of Luke. Being that he is such an excellent story-teller, to end Holy Week like this, leaves me wanting something more from his story, something else that will really bring the power of the empty tomb.
Luke has been such an amazing story teller up to this point in his Gospel why stop now…In this glorious, surprising unexpected moment, Luke leaves so much unsaid.. He leaves so much up to our imagination. In the telling of his story of the resurrection, Luke leaves us hanging, wondering what will happen next.
As a frustrated reader, I just want to tell Luke he needs to go back to Creative Writing 101. He needs to understand that after captivating his readers with story after story of how God’s redemptive grace is still at work in this world, as an author, he doesn’t just come to the closing of his story, and simply say, “Remember.” There should be a big finale. There should be an ending to end all endings. There should be something which will stay with his readers long after we have turned the last page and closed the book.
To which Luke replies, I did… Remember?
As we stand at the empty tomb, in shock and amazement, we begin to remember. We begin to remember Jesus’ words to us, “Love your enemies, pray for those who mistreat you. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
While standing at the empty tomb, in shock and amazement, we begin to remember Jesus’ ministry. We begin to remember all those times when Jesus noticed the people on the margins, all those “others” whom people ignored or forgot. Standing at the empty tomb, we begin to remember how Jesus taught us to recognize all as created in the image of God, that all are Beloved children of God.
Staring at the empty tomb, experiencing the power of the resurrection, we begin to remember that on the night when Jesus was betrayed, he took the bread of new life, he took the cup of the new covenant and said, “Do this in remembrance of me. For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim my death until I came.”
As ones who are experiencing the glory of the empty tomb, we begin to remember all that Jesus told us. We begin to remember his promises. We begin to remember that time and time again, Jesus showed us, that Jesus told us pain and death will not have the last word. At the empty tomb, we remember the new beginning which has been promised to us by our God since the very beginning of time.
I don’t know about you, but I needed this opportunity to remember all these things this morning as a follower of Jesus Christ. With all that is happening in our world right now, I needed, we needed this moment, this moment to stand at the empty tomb, and remember that our God will not let this world have the last word. As people of faith, people who live in a very broken and hurting world, we needed this moment to re-center ourselves in the story of God’s love once more.
This morning, as we experience, as we celebrate the power of the Empty, we remember…We remember the significance of the empty tomb and how it inspires us to live out our faith as the people of God. Because, if we take nothing else from today, please hear this…. if we, as the ones who have been with Jesus since the beginning, we as the ones who have answered his called to ministry, if we as one who walked with him to Jerusalem, saw Jesus nailed to the cross, if we as the ones who have stood beside the empty tomb, experiencing the surprise and wonder of the resurrection, if we as followers of Jesus Christ forget, if we forget all that God has done and continues to do to bring healing and wholeness for all of God’s children, if we forget, then what hope do we have?
If we forget to tell the story, what hope do we have of others knowing and believing in this life-changing power of God’s grace and love? If we forget, what hope do we have of others understanding that God has not left us alone? If we as followers of the Risen Savior forget, then who will remember the promises of new life given to us by our God, long before this world was ever created? If we forget the significance of the empty tomb, then what hope do we have?
That’s the question Luke wants us to answer, that’s the question Luke wants us to remember as he tells us the Easter morning story. He wants us to remember that the rest is up to us. Jesus kept his word to us. Jesus kept his promises to us. And now…and now the rest is up to us. It is time to remember the promises of new life, to remember that we are called to share the good news, the good news that pain and death do not have the last word, the good news that love has overcome darkness. Standing at the empty tomb, experiencing the power and glory of the resurrection, as followers of the Risen Lord, we are called to remember that this story does not end here. The women leave the tomb and share the good news. They tell everyone they know about what they have seen, about what they have heard. They tell everyone that God is still at work in this world, bringing healing and wholeness for all of God’s children. And this morning and every morning, we are called to do the same.
So it is no surprise that Luke tells us, as he draws his Gospel to a close, “Why are you looking for the living among the dead? He is not here. He has risen. Remember.” May it be so.
See also: Theology Tuesday for Sunday, April 17, 2022 – Remember What He Told You Luke 24:1-12.