Easter Sunday

Acts:10:34-43; 1 Corinthians: 15:1-11;  St John:20: 1-29

The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is the central truth of the Christian faith. It is also the most offensive element of the Christian faith for those who are not Christian. Many think that Jesus wasgordon5 a good man and taught some important ethical maxims which are as relevant today as they were there and then. But stumble at the thought that this good man who was crucified for his teaching was revealed in His resurrection as the Son, the only Son, of the eternal God through whom the world came to be. Who post his resurrection was given the title Lord, (which was the Greek translation of the Old Testament name for God. ( יהוה Translated as Yahweh but written as an unpronounceable word by the human larynx in Hebrew to safeguard God’s holiness from defilement.) The early Christians addressed this man in prayer as Lord

During the 40 days after His resurrection the disciples came to see that He had been always with them as the Lord God, in a form that was veiled for them. During the 40 days the presence of God in the man Jesus was no longer a paradox to them He was no longer the hidden God. But now they see as St Paul declares, ‘God was in Christ’ (2 Cor 5:19) He had been veiled as he had moved among His disciples, but now he was unmistakably revealed to be who He is, as the only Son of the Father. Their doubts and unbelief were dispelled, never to return.

For the disciples this was not a discovery of their own, the resurrection for them was not a self-evident truth. It was a conviction that went entirely against the grain for them . This is made abundantly evident in the resurrection narratives that they have given to us. The resurrected Jesus not only speaks with binding authority and effectiveness, but with truth and power. Such that his speech was able to overcome, the fears the grief, the bewilderment and doubts, the unbelief of the disciples. They came to see and believe that the resurrection was not a resuscitation of a miracle worker but a creative act whose only parallel is the creation of the world. It was a creation out of nothing of the dead body of the man Jesus who as the veiled  Son  of God had died with the desperate cry of dereliction upon His lips ‘My God, My God, how have you forsaken Me?’ (Matthew 27:46) Being in this way the representative human for all sinners since the creation of Adam. And so, St Paul unhesitatingly declares in (1Cor 15:17) that if this dead Son of God is not raised from the dead the Christian faith is vain. It has nothing to say to the world caught is the deadly web of its sin and estrangement from God. If there is no resurrection you are still in your sins and of all people Christians are the most miserable and of all people most to be pitied. (vs. 17-19)

One of the striking things about the New Testament’s account of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is that in the most artless way its writers do not attempt to give a coherent account of it. They do not in any way attempt to say what the resurrection as an event is. They tell us of the signs associated with it, such as the empty tomb, but remain silent as to the nature of the resurrection as such. Their historical narratives as we have them in the New Testament cannot be reconciled as to chronology or geography; and no one thought it appropriate or necessary in the early church to reconcile, to iron out these differences, to cover up these discrepancies. In this manner they simply point in their own way to their own incomprehension concerning the event to which they bear testimony

The gospel  (St John 20) speaks of Mary and Thomas in relation to the appearance to the disciples of the risen Lord. The doubt of Thomas with which his name has become associated, doubting Thomas; his doubt is no wit different from all the other disciples in relation to Jesus’ resurrection. As was Mary’s confusion about the stranger who greeted her on the first resurrection day

All the accounts of Jesus post resurrection appearances demonstrate the fact that Jesus created the disciples’ faith. We can speak of the disciples’ faith in the risen Lord only in the sense in which their unbelief is overcome by the action of Jesus. So, St. Thomas’ doubt and his subsequent faith is not a unique experience in respect to the other apostles. The circumstances in which Thomas comes to faith are his, but Jesus creates his faith, like that of all the other disciples as he overcomes doubt by His own action. Jesus’ resurrection far from being a belief  created by the disciples’ ability to believe the unbelievable, it in itself is the foundation of their faith.

Jesus says they are blessed who unlike Thomas ‘have not seen and yet believe.’ The blessedness of which Jesus speaks is the fact that all those,  apart from the apostles, who are not witnesses of the resurrection have no possibility of touching or handling Jesus the resurrected One, as they did. The blessedness of which Jesus speaks is that all others, that includes us, apart from the apostles, have simply the Apostolic word of testimony and the promised Holy Spirit as the basis of their faith, their union with Jesus.

Unlike Thomas and the other disciples including Mary of Magdala, these others of whom Jesus speaks do not face the temptation to which they were subject. This is the temptation, it consisted in their wanting to know that the truth of their faith in Jesus as the risen Lord could be established for them by something other than Jesus own word of promise. Their request to touch the resurrected Jesus indicates their desire to settle the truth of their belief in Jesus Lordship by their ability to trust their physical sense of touch.

 But also, Mary Magdalene, whom Jesus met in the garden near the tomb, there we read, Jesus refused to let her touch Him, to have a direct relationship with Him, this meeting also speaks to us of the same question., faced by Thomas on that evening in Jerusalem so long ago when, on that first Easter Day where the disciples gathered behind closed doors for fear of the Jews. The temptation of Thomas and Mary consisted in their wanting to know that the truth of their faith in Jesus as the risen Lord could be established for them by something other than Jesus own word of promise.

The apostles, and Thomas and Mary in particular, show how they were caught in the natural dilemma of wanting to seek a foundation for their faith in something other than Jesus’ word of promise to them concerning Himself.

They sought the veracity of their belief in the truth of their experience, their belief in their belief as the basis of faith, and in this way, give faith a basis of certainty in themselves. Thomas and Mary in their own way are the examples of an affliction that affected all the disciples, as they became witnesses of the resurrection.

We, on the other hand, hear a word of promise that comes to us from the apostolic witness of the scriptures. This word invites us to place our confidence in the One to whom they testify as the Lord of life. We are invited to obey the promise of this One whose word bears witness to Himself, that He is the risen victor of Gethsemane and Golgotha. This word of promise invites us to believe that Jesus is who He is for us; and that this is the only basis for understanding the truth of our faith. The certainty of our faith lays precisely in the uncertainty that we have in our selves. Certainty consists in the veracity of the word of promise that we hear from the One speaks it to us, as it is given to us in the scriptures. He it is who alone creates for us the basis and certainty of faith. Unlike St. Thomas we have no possibility of establishing our faith by believing in the veracity our senses by touching Jesus and thus, like Thomas, attempt to find an independent point of reference for the truth of Jesus word.

It is for this reason that Jesus calls those who have not seen or touched him blessed. ‘Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe’ (John 20:29); we unlike Thomas are given the freedom to obey the Word of Jesus as the sole basis of faith. In this word and nothing else we find the truth of our life. This truth is no abstract proposition, but the truth of our life before God and each other, as grounded in Him who was raised by God for our sake. This means we  recognise the truth of our life before God and each other is established not by us but for us. That means Another establishes our faith as Christians: it is the Lord who promises Himself to us as the One who lives and pleads our cause as the crucified One. It is as we acknowledge His truth to be our truth that Jesus says we are blessed. It is this mystery of grace that we celebrate today by the means Jesus has given to us. His very body and blood which, given and received, makes us to be what we are not naturally, beloved children of the Father upon whom  for the sake of His risen crucified Son, He has set his love.

Dr. Gordon Watson.

Easter Sunday

Matthew 27:57-66, 28:1-20
The Resurrection

Readings for Easter Sundaybible

27:57 As evening approached, on the day of preparation, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who had himself become a disciple of Jesus. 58 Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus’ body, and Pilate ordered that it be given to him. 59 Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, 60 and placed it in his own new tomb that he had cut out of the rock. He rolled a big stone in front of the entrance to the tomb and went away. 61 Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting there opposite the tomb.

62 The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. 63 “Sir,” they said, “we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ 64 So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first.”

65 “Take a guard,” Pilate answered. “Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how.”  66 So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard.

28:1       After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.

‍2‍ There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it.  ‍3‍ His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow.  ‍4‍ The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.

‍5‍ The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified.  ‍6‍ He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.  ‍7‍ Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”

‍8‍ So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples.  ‍9‍ Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him.  ‍10‍ Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”

 16‍ Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go.  ‍17‍ When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.  ‍18‍ Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  ‍19‍ Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  ‍20‍ and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Acts 10:34-43 Summary of Jesus’ life and ministry

10:34 Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism  35 but accepts those from every nation who fear him and do what is right.  36 You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, telling the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all.  37 You know what has happened throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached—  38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.

39 “We are witnesses of everything he did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a tree,  40 but God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen.  41 He was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom God had already chosen—by us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead.  42 He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead.  43 All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”

Sermon for – Easter Sunday

The Grace and Peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.   Paul writes to us, and the church at Colossae, ‘Since we have been raised with Christ, set our hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.’


Let’s join in a word of prayer: God our loving Father and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ; today, our hearts are filled with awe and wonder over your mighty plan for all creation.  Your son suffered for our sin, and died the cruel death on a cross. You raised your Son to life eternal on that first Easter morning, and we can be sure of your promise to raise us to eternal life with him, because of the faith you put into our hearts. Gracious heavenly Father, we offer our humble thanks and praise, as we set our hearts on your kingdom, where Christ is seated at your right hand, and pray in the name of our risen Lord,  Amen.

It was a beautiful Autumn day, and a sense of peace stayed with a young pastor as he left the central city church on Easter Monday morning.

He paused for a moment on top of the steps leading to the avenue, now crowded with people rushing to the street-side cafes for a late morning snack. Sitting in her usual place inside a small archway was the old flower lady. At her feet corsages and boutonnieres were displayed on top of a spread-open newspaper.

 The flower lady was smiling, her wrinkled old face alive with some inner joy. The young pastor said, “I started down the stairs—then, on an impulse, turned and picked out a flower.  As I put it in my lapel, I said, ‘You look happy this morning.’” 

To which she replied with a sparkle in her eye,  “Why not? Everything is good.”  She was dressed in a shabby coat, with a threadbare blanket covering her legs, and seemed so very old that her reply startled me.  Once again, the young pastor smiled through his reply, “You’ve been sitting here for many years now, haven’t you? And always smiling. You wear your troubles well.”

 “You can’t reach my age and not have troubles,” she replied. “Only … it’s like Jesus and Good Friday.” After which, She paused for a moment.

“Yes?” the young pastor prompted.

“Well, when Jesus was crucified on Good Friday, that was the worst day for the whole world. And when I get troubles I remember that, and then I think of what happened only three days later—Easter and our Lord arising.  So when I get troubles, I’ve learned to wait three days . . . somehow everything gets all right again.”

The young pastor smiled his good-bye. But her words still followed him whenever he experienced difficult troubles. And he thought, “Give God a chance to help . . . wait three days.”   (SOURCE: By Patt Barnes, March 1995 issue of Guideposts, adapted by David Thompson.)  For us,  in this conavirus crisis, we can take that advice to heart.  Give God a chance to help.

 As Paul tells us, when we are facing the most difficult days, we can endure, giving God a chance to help, ‘setting our minds on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God’, not on earthly things.  Even as I wrote this, I discovered how pious this sounds.  But if we think about this for just a bit, practical Christian living comes alive, when we set our hearts on Christ Jesus. Trusting in his care, even in the midst of our frailty, our challenges, our changes in life, family and home, we can approach these changes with a sense of courage and peace in our heart.

 As Martin Luther reminds us, “When everything around you is turning to dust, just remember your baptism, make the sign of the cross, and trust in the promises of Christ.”

I hear Paul telling me that ‘I have died and my life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is my life, appears, then I also will appear with him in glory.’  It almost seems that he is telling us to just shrug our shoulders, and distance ourselves from the challenges we face. That ‘she’ll be right’   But the reality of Paul’s words strike this indifference with a double edge sword.  As we live through the challenges we face, we have a wonderful ally to engage with the challenge, not to escape it.   We have a Saviour who promised “surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”  

When Jesus was taken down from the cross, and laid in the tomb, I can feel the dismay and despair of the disciples.  As I watched the beginning of the  short series’ AD’ on Easter Saturday, I gained a sense of their feelings of failure and doubt.  But just as the flower lady proposed “wait three days and things will turn our all right”. 

During their wait over that first Easter Saturday, they relied upon the very words of Christ Jesus.

 “We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will turn him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day he will be raised to life!”  (Matthew 20:18–19 NIV)

God was true to his promise.  Jesus was raised to life eternal, in his eternal glory, and he remains with us surrounding us with his love, filling us with his Spirit, and encouraging us with his words recorded in our precious Gospels.  Because of that first Easter morning, we can live Easter every day.

As Paul tells us, we are truly ‘raised with Christ’ and we can ‘set our minds on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God’. 

As Paul tells us in one of his other letters, ‘what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins, according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures’ and he appeared.  (1 Cor 15:3–4 NIV)

 And on that first Easter morning, as I read again and again the account of the resurrection, my heart races with the Disciples, as they are greeted by the living Son of God, Messiah, Saviour, precious Lord.  And through the Gospels, Jesus Christ appears to me, brightening my spirit, bringing joy to my heart, and a renewed outlook, as I face the reality of life in our broken world.  It is my prayer today that you may also gain this excitement of the resurrection.  To see life in Christ as something so precious, so wonderful, so meaningful, that our faith in Jesus Christ is not misplaced. 

On Good Friday, we read from Hebrews, the words,  ‘Without wavering, let us hold tightly to the hope we say we have, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. … And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do.’  

Every time we meet, whether on Sunday, or in our midweek, or in homes and hospitals, we extend and continue our remembering of the death of Jesus, and our celebrating of the resurrection of the “Saviour of the World”.   Even by phone conversations and social media.

Every Easter, God gives each of us a truth worth trusting.  It’s the sure truth we see in the Gospel reading, where the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for He is risen, as He said.  Come, see the place where the Lord lay.”

Every Easter, God gives each of us a life worth living.  A life filled with joy and purpose, a life filled with energy and excitement!  It’s the kind of life we see on display in the Gospel reading. “go quickly and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead.”   We can feel the excitement as the truth sinks in: “They departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to bring His disciples word.”    To bring us the reality  that  Jesus is alive! — That great news gives life to everyone who believes!  Life that overcomes our tears, our fears, and  our failures.

Every Easter, God gives each of us a Lord worth loving.  As the women went to tell His disciples, Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him.  Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid.” 
They came and held Jesus by the feet. It was a sign of their reverence, but also a sign of their great love. They loved the Lord. And so can we, because Jesus loves us more than anyone else in the world. He showed that love when He died on that cross for our sins.

Every Easter, God gives each of us a future worth finding.   There is no hope for a future without Jesus Christ.  But with Jesus we have a guaranteed future of eternal perfection. The angel gave those women a small glimpse of the future when he said: “go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’”  Because of the faith in Jesus that God puts into our hearts, we too will one day see our Saviour! We will see Him face to face! And we will live with Him forever in Eternity.  Where he has gone ahead of us.  We have a future worth finding.

Every Easter, God gives each of us a story worth sharing, a reality worth living.  As Christians, we have the story worth sharing!  We can hear Jesus saying: “Do not be afraid. Go and tell.” God wants every believer to be prepared to give a witness of the faith we have and the joy we share. We have a simple message to share! God loves each of us. He sent His Son Jesus to die on the cross for each of us. And Jesus gives us the victory of everlasting life, because He is risen from the dead!

Jesus is risen!   He is alive!

May the grace and peace of God keep our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, our living Lord and Saviour.   AMEN.

Rev David Thompson.

Easter Sunday


: Easter Sunday


Leading up to Easter we’d been focusing on the idea of ‘Listening to God’. Of course you can’t listen to someone who doesn’t exist or who is dead.koch3

Today we celebrate the fact that Jesus is ALIVE! He’s not dead. God’s not dead; in fact through Jesus he has opened his heart and soul to us. He’s invited us to share life with him, up close and personal.

Of course Jesus was killed because people didn’t want to listen to him. People didn’t like what he was saying, they felt threatened, they were worried about losing their influence and control, they didn’t want to change, they liked the way things worked for them, they didn’t want another king because they were happy playing at being their own king.

And people are still trying to shut Jesus up today. They’re still trying to kill him, or at least kill his followers. Jesus is still seen as a threat. People don’t want to be told what to do. People what to be free, free to do what they want when they want; so who do you think you are to tell me what to do. People still seek to kill Jesus, to shut him up.

When Jesus was crucified people mocked him. No different today; if you stand with Jesus, you’ll be mocked; labelled irrelevant, out of touch with the latest research, or just plain stupid, labelled as robbing people of their freedom, after all who do you think you are to judge people.

Have you noticed in the media how as a general rule those who claim to have Christian values are mocked, or more and more attacked as bigots who are out of touch with reality? I might be wrong, but it seems to me that in many and varied ways Jesus is being told to shut up. His followers are being killed, quite literally, all over the world.

But guess what; you can’t shut him up, because Jesus is alive. He is alive and well. Not only alive and well, he’s still speaking, he’s still king, and he is bringing in his kingdom. The kingdom of heaven is near.

We’re not left with some good teaching; that’s one of the subtle ways of trying to shut Jesus up. He was a good teacher. No, Jesus IS a good teacher, but oh so much more. Jesus is still speaking.

Do you know what he is saying?

I love listening to him speak to me through the words he spoke to his disciples when he came into their locked room, where they were hiding because of fear. They’d been shut up.

Jesus comes in and says; “Peace be with you.” A traditional greeting at that time would have been ‘Shalom’. That’s the Hebrew word we translate as peace. The thought behind it was fullness of life with God. So it goes way beyond not having any conflict but a life that is rich and full. That’s Jesus’ words to us this morning; ‘Peace be with you’; I want you to have life, life lived to the full.

Jesus is saying; ‘I’m here to invite you into my life that together we might discover and enjoy Father’s love, that we might be living it. Living out this deep, rich, full relationship which brings out the best in us. Lives flowing in, with and under Father’s love as we become a living, breathing expression of that love. Jesus is inviting you to share this wonderful life with him. He has such great hopes and dreams to live with us.

Jesus is alive, you can’t shut him up.

You can chose to ignore him, but Jesus is speaking, Jesus is inviting you, inviting all people to share life with him in Father’s love. To share life with him growing a community that reflects Father’s love.

That’s why Jesus is inviting and not forcing us. Force, brute force, can make people do what you want, but it can never create a loving environment, let alone create a loving person.

People sought to use brute force to shut Jesus up; did they create a loving world through this force?

Jesus takes the brute force that was directed to get rid of him, and comes back, not with totally brutal force, but with amazing love. Jesus forgives. Jesus opens his heart and soul so that we might know without a shadow of a doubt that we are loved. Jesus offers life; life in all his fullness. Life lived from the core of who we are; Father’s child, chosen and marked by his love the delight of his life.

You can choose to ignore Jesus and go on doing things your own way. You can choose not to listen and live by sanctified reason. You can choose to treat Jesus as a figurehead, but of no real influence in the way you live. You can choose to ignore Jesus, because he loves you too much to use brute force just to get his own way.

Jesus is speaking; not to condemn you, but to love you. Jesus is speaking, inviting you into life where you live secure in the new identity he has won for you through his death on the cross.

Jesus is speaking so that we might be able to grow and mature in this new identity we have been given. That identity results in a living expression of God’s very nature; that’s why we live love. In Jesus, it’s who you are; did you hear that? In Jesus you are, not might be or could be if you try really hard. No, in Jesus you are Father’s child, chosen and marked by his love, the delight of his life. That’s who you are.

Now, together with Jesus, your life is a wonderful voyage of discovery, as you grow and mature in this relationship. In Jesus you now have the wonderful freedom to share life with him as together you grow in discovering this wonderful new identity that you have.

Have you ever noticed that people don’t live free when they are left simply to go off and do whatever they want when they want? I soon discover that I’ve become a slave to something or someone. I become a slave to my desire to be praised; hearing people say what a person of worth I am. Slaves aren’t free.

Knowing who you are creates freedom. And the freedom we have in Jesus not only creates freedom for me but for every other person in his kingdom. I don’t discover my worth in competition to you, rather I live out my identity lifting you up to be all that God has created you to be, celebrating life with you.

Jesus is alive and well; speaking life. Speaking life into all who will listen, so that they might discover their new identity in Father, and live free being true to who they are.

Jesus is inviting you to be part of his life, to share living with him. If you can’t hear him, just ask him to remove the curtain, because you want to hear. Just ask, and listen, he’s speaking.

Jesus is inviting you to share life with him, but he won’t force himself on you, he’s waiting for your response. For Jesus is out to create genuine love, and he knows loved people love, and that when people are loved well they’ll love well.

Jesus is inviting you in; I’d encourage you to invite him in. To invite Jesus into your life, your home life, your work life, your leisure life, your sex life, your economics, and even your politics. Daily invite him in because you accept his invitation to love you in every area of life, so you can be living loved, and not just reacting.

Jesus is speaking, he’s alive. Daily make time to chat and talk about life with him. That’s how you invite him in. Invite Jesus to send the Spirit and to lead you into all areas of life that you might be growing, discovering the fullness of life that come when you live loved; loved by Jesus, loved personally each day through the Spirit being there to share life with you.

Jesus is speaking, he’s alive. Invite him in and listen; enjoy the relationship and be all that he has dreamed possible. Go and live loved.

Pastor Tim Koch.

Easter Sunday Sermon 1st April 2018

Matthew 28:1-10

Dear Heavenly Father, send your Holy Spirit on us so that we do not fear, but trust in the words of our resurrected Saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen.
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Hands up all those who have ever felt an earthquake? Our brothers and sisters in New Zealand are all too familiar with feeling the earth shake beneath their feet.

I’m sure they would tell us that this can be terrifying, because there is nothing firm, nothing staying still and secure for you to stand on. The best approach is to get to a place that at least might offer at least some protection from falling objects, or to keep you safe from the walls toppling down on top of you.

But there’s another type of earthquake that most of us have felt, or will one day feel. This is where our life gets very shaky. The things that we have trusted as firm and secure have suddenly become very insecure. For example, you may have had a good job, secure investments, and a great house to live in. But how did, or would you feel, if you lost your job, all your hard earned investments or your house was lost?

Or, perhaps it’s not property, but you may have had good health. You do everything right, you look after yourself, eat and drink the right things, but then your health fails. Your strong legs, hands, or heart become very shaky and you feel you will never be the same again and you grieve for lost opportunities.

Maybe you lose friends or family. You may have had a good spouse that was taken away by tragedy, or through bitter and gut wrenching divorce. You may have lost siblings or close friends that you think you will never be able to replace.

Whatever it is, we have either faced it or will one day face it. We will be faced with times of upheaval, turmoil and our future will look very shaky. The things we had previously put our faith in, or relied upon, are snatched like a rug from under our feet, and we grasp at anything that promises even a glimpse of security.

Now imagine you are Mary Magdalene or the other Mary. Your world has been tossed up, shaken and torn. The man, who promised so much, had been gruesomely killed and laid to rest in a tomb. This man had performed miracles, he had stood up to teach those in authority how to live according to God’s Word, and he had even raised people from the dead. Yet, when he died without a whimper, your hopes and dreams are shattered. Where is your hope now?

As you try to cope with the emotional earthquakes over the past few days, you go to the tomb to see it once more. On your way, you experience a physical earthquake.

The guards at the tomb also feel the earthquake. Along with the shaking of the ground, they see an angel of the Lord in shining white who rolled back the stone in front of the tomb. Most appropriately, they did the only logical thing when faced with such strange sights – they shook like an earthquake themselves and fell over as if they were dead.

It’s strange that St Matthew alone focuses so much on earthquakes and shakings. There are several times in his gospel account where he points out a violent shaking. For example, when Jesus died, the earth shook and rocks split. The guards around Jesus saw the shaking and bore witness that Jesus is the Son of God. When Jesus rose from dead, the earth shook once more and the guards witnessed it again.

Matthew is trying to tell us something.
He is trying to point back to other times when the earth shook. As we look in the bible, we see that when the Israelites were around Mt Sinai, the earth shook. God sat on Mt Sinai and the ground shook. Perhaps Matthew is pointing to the fact that when the earth shook at these times, God was present on earth? These were times when God acted. These were times when God sent his judgement.

God was in action at the time of Jesus’ death and at the time of his resurrection.

Yet earthquakes bring fear. Where is our security when everything has changed, moved all around and been taken away from us? As the two Mary’s walked toward the tomb and felt the earthquake, did they think, ‘Oh, it’s ok, God’s at work?’ No, in fact they were terrified. Their whole world had been turned upside down.

At the time when they thought God was absent and defeated, the angel said those wonderful words; ‘Do not be afraid.’ Later, when they hurried from the tomb with mixed feelings of fear and joy, how did Jesus himself greet them? ‘Do not be afraid.’

Why shouldn’t they be afraid? Why shouldn’t we be afraid?
Because God is at work. In the midst of turmoil and upheaval, God is at work. As Jesus is raised from the death, God’s judgement has been carried out. Our wicked foe has been defeated. Jesus rose triumphant from the grave. Death has been defeated.Yeah, yeah, so what! We’ve heard this a hundred times before.

Every year, and even a few times during the year, we hear those words. We hear Jesus Christ has risen from the dead. We hear death has been defeated. But what has that got to do with my struggles at work, my struggles at home, my fading health and my loss of friends and family? Everything!!

It’s when the physical, emotional and mental earthquakes surround us and we feel like we are on shaky ground, the words the angel and Jesus spoke to the women are the most welcome and reassuring words we want to hear: Do not be afraid. Why? Because what’s the worst that can happen? We could die. Well, in this case, do not be afraid! Death is defeated and life is victorious.

Since we are joined to the body of Christ through baptism, we have already risen. Jesus has already died our death for us. He carried our shame, guilt and punishment for our wrongs to the grave with him. He entered that great devouring mouth called death. But instead of being swallowed by that gaping and hideous mouth, he devoured death itself. Death now has no teeth. Previously our picture of death was this huge mouth full of rows upon rows of razor sharp teeth, waiting to gobble us up. Instead, the mouth is no more harmful than a newborn baby with those massaging soft gums.

Now, since he has risen to new life, we too have risen with him. Through Christ and his resurrection, we have already crossed over that dark chasm and now live in the light of eternal life.

This is the reason we do not fear – because death has lost its sting. Because Christ lives, we live also.This helps us face our daily earthquakes. We discover that when we think we only have shaky ground, we instead have the most secure ground available. We have a secure ground that can never be shaken.

We have the secure ground of God’s precious Word: those wonderful words that come in the midst of our earthquakes. Words like ‘do not be afraid’ and ‘your sins are forgiven.’ Here in this church, we have a sanctuary from the world’s earthquakes. Here we gather in a sanctuary which provides peace, comfort, and forgiveness.

We have secure ground in Jesus Christ and his resurrection. Those wonderful words ‘He is risen’ reassure us that there is life after death. There is light after darkness. There is hope after hopelessness. There is security and peace even when all things are shaken about. Here as we celebrate his glorious resurrection, we receive that joy and hope in Christ. When our world seems to shake and quiver, remember those wonderful words of Jesus: ‘Do not be afraid.’ Take his Word for it. He has gone ahead of us to heaven. He waits to meet us there at the appointed time. There we will see him with our own eyes and he will greet us again with grace, joy and peace.

The peace of God, which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.