RCF Easter Day - A talk by David Hawken

Easter Day - A talk by David Hawken

Un article rédigé par David HAWKEN - RCF Poitou Vienne,  -  Modifié le 4 avril 2021
Good morning. It’s Easter Sunday. In the few minutes we have this morning, let’s remind ourselves the events of that first Easter Day.
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First the background. Judas had betrayed Jesus. The disciples had fled into hiding for fear of what might happen to them. Joseph of Arimathea had lent his tomb for the body of the crucified Jesus to rest. Some of the women followers had seen the tomb but could not do anything else at the time because the Sabbath Day was about to start. The tomb was sealed and guarded.

Who knows what was going through the minds of Jesus’ disciples through that Friday night and the whole of Saturday?  Shock, disbelief, fear for their own safety, guilt at their failure to protect their Master, the beginnings of grieving.

Then, early on the Sunday morning, some of the women are making their way to the tomb. They are hoping to be allowed to anoint Jesus’ body with spices to make it a proper burial. They are wondering how they can move the huge stone which the authorities had ordered to complete the closure of the tomb. Will the guards help them or send them away or even arrest them?

But as they approach, there is an earth tremor. The stone rolls away, the guards are frightened almost to death with the vision of an angel, and they rush off to Headquarters to report; they are bribed to keep quiet and make out that they were asleep and that the disciples have stolen the body.

The tomb is open.

And the women arrive.

They enter the tomb, but there’s nobody – I repeat – no body there. The women are terrified; and confused. They see a figure in white, (or is it two?); an angel. They are told “He is risen”. They are shown where the body had been placed. They are instructed not to be afraid but to go and tell the disciples what has happened.

The women, still very fearful, find the eleven disciples – how poignant; only eleven, for Judas is no longer with them, maybe no longer alive. They tell their story, imagining that someone must have stolen Jesus’ body. Naturally, the disciples think that they are talking nonsense. 

Peter and John, though, decide to see for themselves. They find the tomb empty, but not quite empty, because the shroud that had been wrapped round Jesus as He was taken from the cross is still lying there; along with a head bandage. John’s Gospel says that they didn’t yet understand about the possibility of Jesus rising from the dead, and yet they believed. I wonder what they believed. Was it simply the word of Mary Magdalene and her companions? Or were they already beginning to understand the Resurrection and its implications?

It seems that Mary may have gone back to the tomb a second time. Certainly at some stage, while she was weeping and grieving, she looked inside and again saw two angels (or was it one ? – who cares, in all that confusion!). Then she turned but failed to recognise the risen Lord until He spoke to her. “Mary!” “Master!” Her women companions also saw Him. They reported back to the disciples who were still disbelieving but thinking that something had happened, was happening.

The Gospel accounts now take us on to later in the day. Two followers of Jesus, Cleopas and another, are walking to Emmaus, discussing the incredible news and its implications.

A stranger comes alongside and asks them questions but they do not recognise Him. They tell him about what has happened earlier – the empty tomb, the visions of angels, the talk of Resurrection.  Jesus, for it is He, refers them back to the Old Testament scriptures which indicate that these are exactly the events that would happen to God’s Messiah.

Still not understanding but wanting to know more, they invite the stranger to stay and have a meal. And it is there, in the breaking of bread that they come to recognise the Lord.
They make the eight mile journey back to Jerusalem to share their experiences with the disciples.
Then, in the evening, while the disciples are behind locked doors, Jesus appears to them. He shows them his wounded hands and side, he eats. He gently rebukes them for not believing.
And then, of course, there’s Thomas who for some reason was not present at that time. He turns up later and  ………  but more of Thomas next week.
What a day was that first Easter Sunday!
At the start of it, sadness. During the day, confusion, amazing events, the beginnings of a belief that would change the world. But still no Hallelujah Chorus. Much too soon!

The disciples were left wondering all this meant to them.  Join us again at a quarter past nine and your ‘Perspectives’ team will explore this a bit more.

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