As has been my tradition, every sermon that I preach will be posted here. This sermon, What is it that you’re looking for, was given at Arthurs Seat as part of the Easter Dawn Service for the Rosebud and Mornington Salvation Army on Sunday 31 April, 2013. The Bible reading was John 20:1-18.
Who is it that you’re looking for? It’s a question that Jesus posed to Mary, but it’s one that is apt for us today as well. Who is it that you’re looking for? Are you looking for chocolate eggs or hot cross buns? Are you looking for the faith you once held as a child, or at your first conversion? Or maybe at this time in the morning, you’re looking for the nearest barista?
Through the story today, we have lots of people looking, and seeing, and they are filled with different meanings. Mary first sees the stone has been removed, and runs to the disciples. She doesn’t know what is in the tomb, and makes assumptions that someone has stolen Jesus’ body. This is put to rest when Peter and the beloved disciple get there. The beloved disciple arrives and sees the linen strips, but remains outside. Peter goes straight into the tomb, and looks around. The word used is the root word of the word “theory”, and we get that from the context. He sees that the strips of linen are lying there, with the cloth in its place. This means that the body wasn’t stolen – a grave robber wouldn’t have taken the time to unwrap a body, particularly one that had a large amount of precious oils and spices that would have been worth a lot of money. When the beloved disciple enters, he “sees and believes” – but the word here means so much more. It means that he was sure of what had happened, that he understood.
Mary again sees things in different ways. She saw – in the same way that Peter saw – the two angels. But she only saw – in the same way that she saw the stone of the tomb – Jesus when he first appeared. She saw, but she didn’t understand. But when Jesus said her name, she turned around and exclaimed his name. When she saw the disciples, she said to them that she had seen – but not only seen, but stared at, clearly discerned, she experienced the risen Christ!
So I ask again, who is it that you are looking for? Do you see, as Mary first saw, the chocolate and buns and know that something has happened, but you’re not sure what? Or maybe you see as Peter saw – looking at the gospel narratives that tell of Jesus’ death and resurrection, but you’re not quite sure what they all mean? Maybe, as the beloved disciple saw, you have read the texts, and you know, you are absolutely sure that Jesus died to save you from your sins. Or maybe you see as Mary finally saw – you see Jesus, in your life, the living, resurrected Christ, who died for your sins, and now lives in you, because he loves you, and wants to spend eternity with you. If that is you, then do as Mary did – go and tell the world about how you experienced Christ in your life, and what that means for you.