THEY RAN; WHICH WAY ARE YOU RUNNING?
Acts 10: 34-43
LUKE 24: 1-12
Friends … how alive are you this morning? How are you feeling? Has the God of creation provided you with a sense of total and complete relief since your sins and my sins are forgiven? If ever there was a day to worship God with thanks, reverence and joy … today is the day .. EASTER IS HERE … Jesus Christ, the Son of God … HE IS RISEN!!! <<HE IS RISEN INDEED>>
I cannot account for any of your thoughts … I do not know any of your hearts’ connections with the Holy but I do know this … I know that God is alive … I know that there is a power beyond humanity’s limited ability to get things done and discover new realities because they all come from God … and I do know that God continues to offer humanity a chance to be rescued. Jesus Christ was and is the life saver we have the opportunity to reach out and embrace! All too often preachers will get focused about the time when we no longer are alive because Jesus gives us the eternal life solution but on this Easter Day of 2022 I am here to declare to each of you and remind you and me that if we embrace God and decide God is worthy of our worship, which means we give up some of the world and give that time back to God … if we love … God and ALL others.
Friends … oh my goodness do you feel the joy … HE IS RISEN <<HE IS RISEN INDEED>>. Don’t you feel the energy of God today … my goodness open the doors of this church … shout it out to the world because the dark world where evil attempts to conquer us daily lurks around each corner …. The world needs the light of our Savior … The world needs the truth of Jesus Christ coming from the Gospels and from believers like us not some politically astute repeater of lies. We need Jesus and it’s not only for our place amidst the saints who came before us in heaven one day… but it is for you and me and every person on April 17th in the year 2022 and then April 18th and April 19th and April 20th and the 21st of April and the Merry month of May and June, July … well you get the picture if we are to have that guarantee of the place in heaven one day we must … WE MUST …. Truly connect with God now and live as if we believe and are connected … if we want to live a life filled with joy and peace even amidst the darkest storms … WE MUST have JESUS. After all … HE IS RISEN <<HE IS RISEN INDEED>>
Oh, that feels so good … the truth sadly finds many people putting on their Easter attire but then their footsteps lead them into the quagmire of the world where the essentials such as LOVE GOD … LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR are set aside. How many of your Tuesday afternoons do you pause to look skyward and say “I love you Lord?” What about those Thursday mornings or Hump Days or TGIF’s when you plan the weekend’s activities … is God worth an I LOVE YOU? Is Jesus alive in your world then?
We heard from the earliest Christians this morning in Acts when Peter says, “God does not show partiality to one group of people over another. Rather in every nation whoever worships Him and does what is right is acceptable to Him. This is the message of peace … this is the good news through Jesus Christ; He is Lord of ALL!!” He is Risen!! <<He is Risen Indeed>>. I so love hearing that and being reminded of that but do you think about that on Saturday morning’s or Sunday afternoons in the football season?
Peter says Jesus commanded those who follow Him to testify that Jesus is the One … after all … ALL of the prophets did and everyone who believes in Him receives the forgiveness of sins through Jesus name. The Bible tells us that God expects us to live as if “people are a higher priority than possessions. God invites us into a life where we are not focused on accumulation nor consumption but on the joy of loving Him and loving His people. When God blesses us then we should share with others.”
Have you ever watched a marathon or gone to a track meet and sat close to the track where runners were sprinting or rushing towards a finish line? The accumulation of the sounds of feet up and down … sneakers slapping the pavement … it’s a sound I am sure you could recognize. Well, those streets of Jerusalem had created some echoes that week for anyone living along its streets ….
The Roman legions arriving on what we call Palm Sunday marching in formation with weapons and their governor Pontius Pilate. The residents probably rushed to hide because they heard the echo from far off. Of course on the other side of town it was the footsteps of a donkey carrying a man of peace slowly down the Mount of Olives going past a Garden that on Thursday night would be the site of an arrest of that same man by some of those same Roman soldiers … Friday the sounds of thousands of feet being herded by their leaders to chant a hateful chant because they did not like the man on the donkey … they would not accept someone whose message countered their own, which was focused on their rules not God’s love. Later the sound was of Roman boots on the pavement and crosses being dragged along the roadway … until darkness fell on that Friday.
But on this day … the soft slow steps of the women might have been heard by early risers because they went to care for His body at the tomb. They did not want to wake anyone up … they were still in shock over the horror of the cross … so they came very early in the morning on Sunday; a day we call Easter.
I am sure that they were not prepared for another shock. Scriptures do not tell us if they had their morning cup of coffee but what they found woke them up … the stone … the boulder … that had covered the grave dug into the hillside was pulled back and the body of the one they loved, named Jesus, was simply not there. WHO HAD JESUS?
And, they experienced the ultimate wake-up moment when suddenly two angels … in gleaming clothing stood before them. I cannot even begin to imagine the fear that rushed through Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James and the other women. And, they were the first to hear the Good News of God revealed not as a promise but as a fact … and friends it was those women who became the first preachers of the Good News even though here in the 21st century there are some rule setters who somehow think that women cannot preach and that only they the rule setters can decide who can share the Good News of Christ. I am so happy to remind each of us today that it was our sisters in Christ who first boldly declared HE IS RISEN <<HE IS RISEN INDEED>> God would never limit who can share the Good News only humans would.
We should never forget … as Peter stated … “GOD DOES NOT SHOW PARTIALITY to ANY PERSON … or group of people … ALL who worship Him are equal.” All who believe and are ready to share His Word have heard the instructions of Jesus to go into the world … only humans with their own agendas try to limit who can be the bearers of Good News and I am happy to declare today …. That you and I should be rushing when this service is over …. Rushing out of these doors …. So excited and full of love and full of reverence and so desperate to change the world beginning with our own little corners and on our own social media, which can reach the farthest corner of the world, … we need to be telling the world of God’s love … of Jesus’ truth … we need to focus our life journey, beginning today and until we no longer can breathe, we need to open the Gospels of Jesus because that is where God’s expectations are. … and above all else on this Holiest of Holy Days … we need to declare that HE IS RISEN <<HE IS RISEN INDEED>>
Those living near the gravesite and just waking up that morning heard running … the sounds of those women’s footsteps as they rushed with urgency across town to the disciples … to tell them the truth … to share the Good News. They were not trained in seminary … they were not practiced in preaching … they were women who loved the Lord and were ready to share the Good News … THEY RAN … and the men scoffed at them although Peter came back to the empty tomb wondering … wondering but the Good News had been shared; the Jesus revolution of love started!
Later that night when the disciples finally saw Him … they realized the truth. Sometimes we won’t accept the truth because we have heard lies repeated over and over … we have our own priorities but when the light of the truth finally reaches us …. Here in worship this morning when you and I joyfully acknowledge God’s truth … God’s love .. Jesus’ reality … isn’t it about time that we start running into our world to share what we know … to let others understand that we are offering not only the hope of a one day heavenly connection, which is hard for people to fully grasp, but we are bringing the Good News that Jesus Christ is Risen <<HE IS RISEN INDEED>> and that Jesus has given us better life choices than the world can ever offer with peace, joy, and love.
On this Easter morning … are you opening yourselves up to again experience the joy of knowing Christ and bowing down to God who you can find wherever you look but who has decided to leave it up to each of us as to which way we are running in our lives.
Cleopas and the other disciple walking on the road to Emmaus that afternoon … their footsteps more than likely rather quiet on the dirty road were met by another who engaged them in conversation. They told the Risen Jesus the story of the weekend … the death on the cross and the report of those FIRST PREACHERS WHO WERE WOMEN … “some women of our group have left us stunned … they went to the tomb and did not find the body BUT … they had seen a vision of angels … HE IS ALIVE.”
Only later did they realize they had been again connected with Jesus … their hearts on fire when Jesus spoke along the road where their footsteps left only dust in the wind. But in that moment of realization they got up and ran back to Jerusalem …. This time people could see and probably hear them running to find the others and what did they declare on that first EASTER …. “HE IS RISEN!!” <<He is Risen Indeed>>
So on this Easter in the year 2022 when we are living through dark days around the world … are you willing to make the change and make Jesus matter? Are you willing to embrace the Light and rediscover the Gospel message that provides a guide to living?
We will leave this service out those doors or those of you worshiping at home will turn off your computers or I-pads or phones but then which way will you be running? Are you joining the women and Cleopas and other saints to run sharing the TRUTH of JESUS or are you running back to embrace the world. As to the question of the tomb … WHO HAD JESUS? Today I hope it is an active phrase WHO HAS JESUS and I hope you can say you do just as I am blessed to have Him! HE IS RISEN <<HE IS RISEN INDEED>> AMEN