He is Risen! Thank God – He is Risen Indeed!
Back in 1974 Cat Stevens – aka Youssef Islam – wrote a song for the ‘Catch Bull at 4’ album, called ‘Can’t Keep It In’.
It goes a little like this:
‘I can’t keep it in, I’ve gotta’ let it out.
I’ve got to show the world, world’s gotta’ see.
See all the love, love that’s in me.’
And that’s the way it was at the tomb on that first Easter Sunday morning nearly 2000 years.
The stone was placed across the doorway of the tomb to keep disciples or others from stealing the body and to signify that this was really the end of Jesus and his ministry.
But a mere stone could no more keep the disciples from entering the tomb once the stone had been rolled away any more than a mere stone could hold Jesus – or his love for us – in.
Often we focus on this day – on the triumph of life over death, miracles and sacrifice – God’s reconciliation with humankind, but the very essence of the day, I believe is love – a love so strong it would not be held down by death [a sacrificial, triumphant, miraculous, agape, selfless love].
This is a love that is about restoration, reconciliation and finally recognition.
I believe John is at pains to show the restoration of God’s plan.
The Genesis story also begins in a garden, and yes God walks in that garden. The fall of humankind in the garden began when the woman was tempted first, now it is a women who is restored first in this garden by the creator of the garden.
This love reconciles or creates a new peace between God and man and again if we look at the next verses – John further articulates and reinforces this when Jesus says –three times – ‘Peace be with you’.
Firstly this is a love that has both parties recognising it as such.
Initially, Mary [like us before we came into relationship with Jesus]doesn’t recognise Jesus as Christ but as a stranger.
Twice she is simply called ‘woman’ – firstly by the Angels at the tomb and then by Jesus.
But then, Jesus makes it personal and intimate when he calls her by name, ‘Mary’.
That’s the love we share in – when Jesus doesn’t just know how many hairs are on your head, but he knows you and calls you by name because of this reconciling, restoring love that he has for you.
Hopefully that recognition and desire to be reconciled and restored has brought you here to worship today and will bring you back again – for we all need our stones to be rolled away again and again– stones of guilt, hatred, greed and hurt.
It was love that took Jesus to the tomb and it was love that brought him out of it. Love for you and me. A love that resonates with the words we heard at the beginning.
Can’t keep it in – world’s gotta see, see all the love – love that’s in me.