Easter Sunday: "They Ain't Gonna Fool Us!"

Easter Sunday
“They Ain’t Gonna Fool Us!”

Sunday, April 1, 2018
John 20:1-18
Rev. Mark M. Vickers
St. Timothy’s UMC


John 20:1-18 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

The Resurrection of Jesus

20 Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. 2 So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” 3 Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went toward the tomb. 4 The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5 He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. 6 Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, 7 and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. 8 Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; 9 for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. 10 Then the disciples returned to their homes.

Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene

11 But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look[a] into the tomb; 12 and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. 13 They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” 14 When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15 Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” 16 Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew,[b] “Rabbouni!” (which means Teacher). 17 Jesus said to her, “Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” 18 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.

We come this morning as a forgiven and reconciled people who, despite the work of the secular world, cannot be fooled! That my friends is Good News! It has been a long and arduous journey these past 40 days! It has not been fun, I have failed miserably, but Jesus rose from the dead for me despite my failures.

Easter, Resurrection Day, has not fallen on April 1st since 1956 and it won’t happen again until the year 2029. But the fact of the matter is that no matter when this Holy Day falls on April 1, we, as Christians will never be fooled!

The text we have before us this morning is probably one of the most detailed texts that the Christian world addresses. We have a cast of characters, Mary Magdalene, Simon Peter, “the other disciple” or as Simon Peter probably named him, “the fast disciple!” Mary approaches the tomb only to find the stone “rolled away” as the disciples neared and entered the tomb to find the wrappings laid in certain places. Then running around in a hurry, the message that the tomb was empty was quickly spread. Mary, then sees Jesus (misunderstood as the gardener) to whom he reveals himself to her and commands her not to touch him for he has not yet ascended to the Father. It is a conglomeration of running, adventure, and trying to figure this event out in our history.

One of the greatest parts about Easter is the assurance of our faith! We, who put our daily, living faith in Jesus are certainly not fooled today because the grave is empty and Christ has risen from the dead! Yet we live in the midst of a culture that predicates itself on the need to be fooled! We find great joy in the process of digging deep into the story of life, finding the mystery, and then acting surprised. Its as if we don’t want to believe in the truth of what we hear.

The time in which Jesus lived was also filled with the arbitrary concern of the truth whether it be political, social, or religious truth. They found themselves in the quandary of questioning, doubting, and most of all struggling to figure out what was right.

I have been convinced for awhile that we, who live in the religious world, not just the Christian world, but the religious world, make life far more complicated that it needs to be.

If we take Easter for example: Mary, Simon Peter and “the fast disciple’s” journey to the tomb-when they got there they are surprised at what they find. When in fact they have heard the story from Jesus several times before. Granted, trauma, political threat, and fear were all a part of the scenario, but geez people, LISTEN! It takes a “fragmented” gardener looking like Jesus to explain to Mary, “No, I’m not the gardener, I’m Jesus- don’t touch me because I have not finished my journey.”

We spend a tremendous amount of time getting to this very day, Easter! We shouldn’t be fooled at all, we have journeyed, “for better for worse” for 40 days in order that we can complete this part of the story.

It would be nice if we could just take Easter at face value, but we can’t! You really had to be here Thursday to see the story begin to unfold; Jesus as servant, humble and meek (oddly similar to his birth) was the one who served his disciples, but they still didn’t get it. My friend Ed Kilbourne uses this example to explain just how the disciples got their name, they just didn’t hear the message clearly, hence they were “the duh-csiple.”

My friends we do not have to be like that at all. We will will not be fooled when we approach the empty tomb or the beautifully adorned Cross. We have heard and participated in this story before. If you haven’t, then I encourage you to start now!

For Easter is no April fools joke! It’s no mystery, its the proclamation that Jesus came for you and for me! It’s not a joke, it’s not a fool, it’s a promise that God’s grace became manifest on the earth in human form so we could identify with Him as our Lord and our Savior!

I hope your jokes are minimal today, but if one is played on you, take heed that the Gospel story you heard and experienced this morning is NO JOKE!