This is it…this week …this day…this is why people still talk about Jesus. They may get it wrong. They may misunderstand. They may twist the story to suit their own thinking. But the only reason we tell the story at all….is because of today. Because Jesus rose from the dead.
Now you may be thinking that this is an idle tale. People don’t rise from the dead after all. We know that. Especially not when they are all dead (not mostly dead)…like nailed on a cross, pierced through with a spear, three days dead. And you may particularly think it is an idle tale, because it was women, after all who were the ones who made this claim of resurrection…and you may be just as biased and sexist as the disciples were. But here’s the thing — you’ve heard about Jesus. After 2000 years…you’ve heard about Jesus…even though after he was executed his disciples had given up…had left….were scared out of their wits and in hiding. Understandably so. But ..you’ve heard about Jesus…so something changed. Something happened.
One thing that happened was that Peter…who followed Jesus from the beginning and who so often got things wrong and didn’t understand what Jesus was all about — Peter, who had blown it when he was put on the spot by denying he even knew Jesus when he was being tried. Peter…was willing to find out if he was wrong again.
And so he went to the tomb himself and he was amazed…because the women were telling the truth. Of course, it will take a little more convincing for Peter to truly believe Jesus is raised than just the empty grave and folded grave clothes….he will need to see Jesus more than once again.He will need to experience the change Jesus makes in him. But he gets there. He does. And he becomes willing to stand in the temple in broad daylight and tell people about Jesus. This, from the same guy who didn’t even want to acknowledge him in the dark around a campfire.
Something happened. Something changed Peter and all the rest of his followers. Resurrection happened. After all the pain and fear, after all the devastation and all the violence….resurrection happened. Death didn’t win. Death always wins. We know that, don’t we? Death always wins. Not a one of us escapes it…whether we are 2 days old or 102. Death wins. That’s why this really should be an idle tale.
But there is something about Jesus…something about who Jesus is…something about how Jesus lived..that is more real…more powerful…than death.
We say…that something is God. And God is love.
Love lived among us…in Jesus. Love for all of us…for creation…for the cosmos. Jesus was love. Love that forgave. Love that gave thanks. Love that ignored every category and every class and every judgement we humans make. Love that healed and love that restored people…made them whole. Love that gave people joy.
And that love is more real, more right…than all that is wrong in the world. We know it….deep down we recognize it. When forgiveness and healing happen in the midst of deep injuries…we are in awe. It is not normal. But it is beautiful. It is right. It is love. When people embrace each other, and look out for each other…no matter how different they are…it is not normal. It’s not what we expect in this world. But when we see it…it’s beautiful. It’s right. That is Jesus. That is who Jesus was and who Jesus is and that is what we call God…breathing through the fabric of this creation bringing dead things back to life.
This story of Jesus — this story of resurrection that sounds like an idle tale…is actually simply the deepest truth about the world and about ourselves. The kind of Love that opens us up …opens up our hearts to care for others….is more powerful than anything else in all creation. It cannot die.
That part of us…all of us….made in the image and imprint of God….that part of us that loves….cannot die. It is what is most real and most true about us. Your most real and most true self…that’s what you see in Jesus. It’s there. Connected to God. Beloved and loving….forgiven and forgiving….healed and healing… welcomed and welcoming.
That’s why people still talk about Jesus….because the truth of Jesus’ resurrection startled his disciples out of their fear to dare to love a world that was pretty intent on rejecting them. And others recognized that love and were changed by it…and so on…and so on…and so on. So 2000 years later…you know his story.
And over the years….boy, howdy, have people misunderstood and twisted who Jesus is and what he stands for. I’ve been sick to see Jesus’ name used to justify hate and arrogance and privilege and violence and sexism and racism and homophobia and religious bigotry. You can be pretty sure when you see that…that’s not Jesus. That’s not the resurrected one. But when you see people washing feet, when you see people eating with outcasts, when you see people filled with gratitude, when you see people offering forgiveness and healing divisions…whether they use Jesus name or not….you can be pretty sure that’s where Jesus’ spirit is breathing in the midst of this world. Where there is beauty…where there is love…where there is joy ….Jesus lives. The tomb was empty. It was. Shook all of Jesus’ followers right down to their toes…maybe it’ll shake you a bit today…change up your perception of reality. Because what is most real…more real than anything else we know…is love that is the essence of God…the essence of all that is….the essence of the cosmos.
Christ has triumphed indeed. He is living today. Alleluia. Amen.