Cousin Jessie taught me a lot this past Sunday, about how much is packed into this week, Holy week, wow it’s a lot to take in. So, what's the one word that could best express our response to this message of Easter, to the idea of resurrection?
I'll get at it by kind of going back in time. If you can imagine being around 2,000 years ago, when this man Jesus came, and you listen to him when he taught. Nobody had ever taught like this. Nobody had ever lived like this. Nobody had ever loved the way he did. So, you wanted to become his follower, and you left everything. You left your home, left your family, left your work. People told you, you were crazy, but you didn't care, because you were convinced that this man got it, that his little community was going to change the world.
For a while, it was an amazing adventure. Then one Sunday you went into Jerusalem, and everybody wanted to make him king. They were all thrilled, but he wouldn't be that kind of a king, and things went south really fast. By Friday, what we call Good Friday, this man you had given up everything to follow was dead. Not just dead; he was crucified like a common criminal.
On Sunday you go to the tomb because you had nowhere else to go. It's very confusing. The tomb is empty and the stone that had blocked it has been rolled away. The Roman guards who were guarding it are gone, and there's an angel, and the angel says, Jesus is not here. He is still alive. So, you go and tell everybody this good news. Now that'll probably be dangerous. The Romans will probably kill you for it, but they killed Jesus and he's doing great, so don't worry about that. Go tell everybody, Hate is out and love is in, and the crucified carpenter is now Master of the universe. Jesus Christ is risen!
What do you think would be the first words out of your mouth if you heard that that first Sunday morning? There's a tradition that has been around for a long, long time now. At gatherings, somebody will say, "Jesus Christ is risen," and all of the people will respond, "He is risen indeed."
That's a beautiful sentiment, but I don't think their response was anything that polished. I think that first Sunday morning when they heard that message, Jesus Christ, the guy you knew, the man you followed, this carpenter, this rabbi, is raised from the dead... I think the word for Easter is wow.
"Wow" is what we say when something happens that turns the world upside down, but we didn't see it coming and we don't quite know how to take it all in. "Wow" is an expression of wonder and awe and being dumbstruck.
Now life is filled with wows. Our universe was built on wow. Then these other moments come along in history. The Wright brothers get into this machine, and all of a sudden human beings can fly. Then several decades later, a man named Neil Armstrong takes his first step on the moon. I remember watching that when I was a kid. That's a "Wow!" There's a man on the moon.
Your life is filled with wow moments. Birth...what a mystery. It never ceases to be. Get a driver's license. I can drive a car all by myself for the first time. Wow! I meet a girl, and proposed, and she says, "Yes, " and we get married, and have kids, "Wow!"
Here’s my point, his resurrection changed everything. It is the hinge of history. We to this day date human history by the life of that one man who lived and died and was raised again. We all have wow moments in our lives, but they don't really change a whole lot, not like this did.
Once there was a man named Jesus, and he came and taught that God is real and God is loving, and God cares about you. Do y'all understand on Saturday there was nothing left of that movement and then Sunday it was on?
His way, that way of servanthood and humility and self -sacrifice and love, wasn't upset by a cross. In fact, it turned the cross into the most recognizable symbol in human history. You don't have to live in fear anymore. You don't have to live in defeat anymore. He changed everything.
He has risen…….