First Presbyterian Church of Blackwood
21 E. Church Street
Blackwood, NJ 08012
Meditation Notes (Easter Sunday 11:00 a.m. ~ 04.04.2021)
Rev. Dr. Mouris Yousef, Pastor
“The Shortest Easter Sermon Ever!”
If you got excited this morning when you saw the worship bulletin and read my sermon title, “The Shortest Easter Sermon Ever”, I am sorry if I disappointed you today. I didn’t mean that my sermon today will be the shortest Easter sermon you’ve ever heard, actually, I was refereeing to Mary Magdalene’s Easter sermon not mine.
John tells us that after Mary Magdalene met with Jesus outside of the garden tomb, she was commissioned by the risen Christ to take the good news of Christ’s resurrection to the discouraged and confused disciples back in Galilee. In John 20:18, John tells us, “Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”; and she told them that he had said these things to her.”
Mary Magdalene’s Easter sermon was a single phrase; only 5 words long: “I have seen the Lord.” That’s it. While my Easter Meditation this morning is not as short as Mary’s, but I promise to be brief and right to the point. So I invite you now to rethink the Easter story with me. What’s at the heart of the glorious news of Christ’s resurrection? Two short observations:
First: Easter is More about Tomorrow than it is about Yesterday
I think one of our main problems as human beings is that sometimes we get so caught in what has been, that we miss the gifts right before us. We get stuck on the past and look back more than forward. But Easter’s grand gesture turns us to new life and a future fully alive.
The disciples of Jesus couldn’t recognize the risen Lord on that first Easter Sunday because their brains couldn’t get past the events of Good Friday. Luke tells us in chapter 24 the story of two disciples of Christ who were so discouraged, upset and disappointed and they decided to go back to their hometown, Emmaus, about 7 miles from Jerusalem. They were talking with each other about everything that had happened and as they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus Himself came up and walked along with them; but they they didn’t recognizing Him.
Why? Why did they fail to recognize the risen Lord immediately? I truly believe the disciples of Emmaus failed to recognize Jesus because they were still living in the past. Luke seems to be underscoring how on the very day that the heavens were celebrating, these two disciples were walking away with regret, disappointment, and sorrow.
This is not the only time in the New Testament that the disciples did not immediately recognize the resurrected Jesus. John chapter 20 records for us that Mary Magdalene was weeping at the grave of Jesus when He appeared and asked her what was wrong. Still in the depths of her grief she mistook Jesus for the gardener. But then Jesus spoke her name, “Mary!” It was a mystical moment of recognition and revelation. Easter is more about tomorrow than it is about yesterday.
Second: Easter is about God’s Power Working behind the Scenes
One of our frustrations and disappointments as followers of Jesus is that we don’t always understand how God works in the world and in our lives to accomplish His purposes. For the disciples of Jesus, the cross and the death of their Lord was a no-no. They just couldn’t wrap their heads around the fact that the Messiah will be crucified. On one occasion, Peter actually rebuked Jesus for saying that. Listen to these words from Matthew 16:21-22, “From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!”
The Prophet Isaiah reminds us that God’s thoughts are not our thoughts, neither are His ways our ways. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are God’s ways higher than our ways and His thoughts than our thoughts. The resurrection of Jesus is a reminder that God is not silent. He is not idle. God always works even during those times when we fail to see Him working. He is not absent. He is always present.
So when you find yourself facing a situation where God seems absent and silent, remember that God is working behind the scenes. Charles Spurgeon once said, “When we cannot trace His hand, we must trust His heart.” We may be puzzled by our circumstances, but God has it all figured out. The disciples thought the story of Jesus is over. But Easter reminds us that there is more to the story. God is still working.
Therefore, my friends, stand firm in your faith. Rest in God while He is working behind the scenes. Remain confident in the fact that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion. God is all powerful, all knowing and ever present. The Lord is risen. He is risen indeed. Alleluia!
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.