Holy Week and Easter
Easter is the most important festival in the Christian calendar. It celebrates the resurrection from the dead of Jesus, three days after he was executed.
Easter Sunday April 1st 2018 St Botolph’s Church, Norfolk
Acts 10:34-43 1 Corinthians 15:1-11, John 20: 1-18
Alleluia, Christ is Risen!
May I speak in the name of God, who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit
What an amazing week! Quite a story, starting with the triumphal ride into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday on the humble donkey. Crowded streets, the place packed with people preparing for the feast of the Passover, Jesus turning over the tables in the temple, the Last Supper in the upstairs room, for fear of being found, the long night in the Garden of Gethsemane, the betrayal of Jesus by Judas, the capture by the soldiers, Jesus coming before Pontius Pilate, the crowds calling for him to be crucified and the release of Barabbas.
And then the crucifixion. An unbelievably horrific event
Followed by Saturday, the holy day for the Jews.
And so to today, the good news that Jesus is risen. Jesus conquers death and is alive for us all.
But let’s go back to the events of the last three days, back to that tomb, the tomb given by Joseph of Arimathea.
We hear today from John’s gospel and all the gospels, Matthew, Mark and Luke all have accounts of the day that Jesus appears to Mary.
There are some slight differences but the meaning is the same; Jesus is gone from the tomb, an angel or more are waiting, Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene, in John , in Mark, it is Mary Magdalene and Mary Jesus mother, in Matthew it is Mary Magdalene and the other Mary and in Luke, it is the women who walked with Jesus and the disciples
But let’s stay with John’s gospel today.
In the morning Mary Magdalene had gone to visit the tomb and see where they had laid his body. The Saturday was the Sabbath and no one would have been out and about, especially as the Feast of the Passover had been the main day.
We hear that she saw that the stone had been moved and she went to Simon Peter and the other disciple whom Jesus loved and told them.
‘They have taken the Lord out of the tomb and we do not know where they have laid him’.
The disciples ran to the tomb and found also that Jesus had gone and only linen wraps left. We hear that the disciples returned to their homes.
I wonder what they would have been thinking. Frightened perhaps that they also would be caught, sad that all they had worked for had come to such a drastic end and enormously moved by the crucifixion.
Mary stood outside weeping and then saw two angels in white, sitting in the tomb, and said to Mary,’ Woman, why are you weeping?
As she told them she turned around and saw Jesus but did not recognise him, thinking him to be the gardener, she asked if he could tell her where he had taken the body of Jesus.
But when Jesus said, “Mary!” she turned around and said,”Rabbouni”.
What did she feel? What else could she do? There is a lot unsaid in this passage.
But what we do know is that she went back to the disciples and told them that Jesus was alive and that she had seen him and the things that he had said.
Later on we know that Jesus appeared to the disciples too.
The eleven disciples were making their way to the mountain in Galilee, when Jesus appeared to them.
Jesus said to them,
‘Remember I am with you always to the end of the age.’
Alleluia, Christ is Risen!
And that surely is what the Easter message is about. Jesus risen from the dead, alive and with us, here, now and forever.
The cross that we wear and the cross that he bore gives us the light to walk out into the world and proclaim him Lord, It takes away the power of darkness, it takes away the things that we do wrong and leads us in to an eternal life.
It is a love proclaimed, God who sent his only Son to be with us to show his love for all his people.
We are lucky, lucky indeed. We know the story and maybe even feel a tiny bit of complacency about how we might have reacted if we had been there. I wonder if you really think that.
The crowds who shouted for him to be crucified, surely we wouldn’t have done that, we are peace loving people, that wouldn’t happen nowadays would it? Or wouldn’t it.
Judas who betrayed him. A disciple so fed up with the apparent lack of progress in the last few weeks, decided that he may as well benefit from the inevitable.
And Peter, trusty Peter, the rock. He denied knowing Jesus three times. But how else would he react when he knew that to admit to it would mean he also may be tried
I think we would have been much the same, I think we still are. And every time that we turn away from Jesus it is like doing one of these acts.
But Jesus gives us forgiveness, he gives us love, he gives us a light to shine in the world.
The cross that we wear and the cross that he bore gives us the light to walk out into the world and proclaim him Lord,
It takes away the power of darkness,
It takes away the things that we do wrong
It leads us in to an eternal life
And let us always remember
I am here with you always, to the end of the age.
Happy Easter and Alleluia Christ is Risen
Rev’d Sue Martin
The story has some very significant dates and places. In the week leading up to Easter, which is called Holy Week, the pace changes dramatically from the entry into Jerusalem on a donkey on Palm Sunday, followed by Fig Monday, when Jesus finds a fig tree with no fruit, to table Tuesday, when Jesus enters the temple and becomes angry at the tables of the money lenders,the Wednesday when a woman anoints him with oil, and then to Maundy Thursday and the Last Supper.
After Jesus was crucified on the Friday (now known as Good Friday), his body was taken down from the cross, and buried in a cave tomb. The tomb was guarded by Roman Soldiers and an enormous stone was put over the entrance, so that no-one could steal the body.
Easter Sunday marks Jesus’ resurrection.
On the Sunday, Mary Magdalene, followed later by some of Jesus’ disciples visited the tomb and found that the stone had been moved, and that Jesus’ body had gone.
Jesus himself was seen that day by Mary and the disciples, and for forty days afterwards by many people. His followers realised that God had raised Jesus from the dead. Christians call this the Resurrection.