“He’s Not Here”

On April 16, Pastor Jim preaches on Matthew 28:1-10.

Earthquake! That’s what greeted the followers of Jesus and the entire city of Jerusalem that first Easter Sunday. Matthew is the only Gospel that tells us this.

We are used to Easter: the baskets, the song about the hopping rabbit, and, of course, church. In a way it’s a rather low maintenance holiday compared to Christmas and Thanksgiving. Although from this side of the pulpit I must say it does take a lot to pull Holy Week together, and I’m not doing most of the work. Compared to the choir, kitchen team, children’s department, certain staff, and others, I’m on easy street.

One thing is certain, Easter’s predictable. We all know the story and what to expect.

This was not the case the day it actually happened. The first Easter shook the disciples to the core. It rocked the earth, ripped the curtain, and rolled back the stone. In the Gospel accounts, “fear” is the operative word. The tomb guards shook and became like dead men. The women trembled and the angel tried to calm them. The disciples were hiding. When the women eventually did flee (see Mark’s Gospel), we are told that they were terrified. “Trembling and bewildered, the women went and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, for they were terrified.” Mark 16:8

I bet they were. Everyone knows that the dead stay dead. Matthew tells us that the angel told the women as they peered into the tomb, “He is not here…” If Jesus wasn’t there, where was he? Where is he now?