MATTHEW 28:1—10 ESV
1 Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb.
2 And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it.
3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow.
4 And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men.
5 But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified.
6 He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay.
7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. See, I have told you.”
8 So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples.
9 And behold, Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him.
10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.”
We talk a lot here about the brokenness and the scars of this world. Its at the core of our theology as Christians, that our world is fallen and in need of redemption by Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ alone. And so with that, we can safely say that this world teaches that we live and we die. All of our worldly experience is a moving from life to death. And so we live it up, trying so hard to immortalize ourselves and our experiences.
But God…God, our gracious Maker, our redeeming Savior, our stalwart Guide…tells us, shows us, and leads us from life, to death, to life. We are Christians, people who believe in abundant life.
Because the world stops at death in its experience, it can’t offer abundant life. It can only offer abundance. And then it all goes away. But Jesus shows us that God opens the door to more. One of my favorite phrases is ‘made for more’. And I want you to walk away with that today, at the very least.
There’s two words that are important to us today. The words are LIFE and FREEDOM. But first, I want to set it up, so let me illustrate.
I believe that the famous, classic movie “The Wizard of Oz” is one of the greatest cinematic stories of all time. Have you ever broken down the story and considered what it reveals on a deeper level? A Midwest girl, living in a boring black-and-white world, is longing for something more. The brilliant rainbows of the Kansas skyline tell her that there is something on the other side of her unfulfilling life. Is Dorothy lacking? No, as she has all the necessary things for general happiness and opportunity. But there’s a hole in her heart and she knows it.
SLIDE 1—She sings a song many of you know, called “Over the Rainbow.” The song is lovely, but almost haunting, as she’s reaching out. The song reflects her desire for a something more.
SLIDE 2—Then, in a swirl of events, Dorothy is cast into a far away land that is filled with color, wonder, and possibility. Through her journey, she learns more and more about herself and how to view the world. She is given joy and its that joy that she brings back home when she finally returns.
SLIDE 3—For me, the last seen is the best because its the moment she realizes, because of her new found joy, that there’s no place like home. She couldn’t say that before, when she was distracted and empty. But now that she’s been filled, there’s a new life that has been resurrected in her. She has a new life about her and everything is richer.
Our first word this morning is LIFE. The women who went to the grave to finish burying Jesus went with no expectation of anything out of the normal. Why would they? Jesus has died; He was alive and now He isn’t. What is shocking for them is to find that death didn’t have the final say. Until this point, everyone knew that life led to death. But not today.
The resurrection of Jesus redefines life. There is no more life and then death. There is a new progression. There is life and death and then life again. Jesus revealed this when He said in the Gospel of John (10:10), “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” The women who came to the tomb that day were shown a new reality, ushered in by the power and graciousness of God. Jesus was alive and so would they be from this point onward.
Welcoming Jesus into our lives means that we no longer live for this world or for the shortcomings it offers. God entered into the world in order to bring it something it didn’t have—abundant life. And through that abundance there is something to be experienced—a kingdom-of-Heaven quality that each of us, like the women at the tomb and even Dorothy, longs for. It’s FREEDOM. And that’s our second word.
The two Marys are now free to live, no longer bound by the finality of this life. The are free to embrace life with a joy that comes from God. Knowing that Jesus has been raised from the dead changes the way we understand life, the way we interact with it. The ministry that the two Marys and the disciples will have is no longer limited by a world that suffers from insufficiency. They can now connect to life through the Author of life. That’s freedom.
Think back to when Dorothy comes home from Oz, she is now free to live in this world in peace. She can experience abundant life and joy in a world that was once lacking in both. She’s freed from the bonds of insufficiency and the worry of going no where. She’s found new life and she’s free to experience it.
Two words: life and freedom. Jesus Christ achieves abundant life, and then gives it to us for the freedom of living abundantly. For us this morning, it’s about so much more than what’s on the other side of a rainbow. This morning, its about life defeating death and heaven coming to live freely in our hearts.
There’s a new reality: life, death, and life again. Abundant life. And its yours today. Will you receive it? Will you let the Lord give you joy for this world? Will you let Him send you back into the boring, black-and-white world with an almost unspeakable joy? He desires to awaken you today. Call out to Him and He will call you forth. Amen.