Matthew 28:1-10, 16-20
Did you ever play the game “Freeze Tag” as a child? The group is running around and playing, and then the one who is “it” yells, “Freeze!” Everyone has to freeze exactly as they are when they hear the word. The first person to stumble or move from their “frozen position” is “it” for the next round.
There are moments in all of our lives that are frozen in our memories. They can be good moments, or bad moments: Moments of utter joy and moments of profound grief. Whatever else they may be, these are moments that are locked in our hearts and minds.
Remember? That first kiss. The time she said, “Yes, I will marry you.” The look on the doctor’s face when the news was good; or when the news was bad. The day your child was born and you held this gift from God. The moment you lost the person you love most, to death.
All of these are moments frozen in our memories. The most dramatic of them are those moments of life and death that make up the greatest, most wonderful: and the worst, most devastating events of our lives.
Defining moments… I remember when my father died. I stood at his hospital bed and thought. This is it. Now I am the older generation in my family.
As we gather on this Easter Sunday we celebrate the single most important defining moment of our Christian faith – the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. This is It!
Frozen in time, is the moment when Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to the tomb to anoint Jesus’ body and they came face to face with an earthquake, and a heavenly being who rolled the stone away and then spoke to them! They came face to face with an empty tomb! Do you really think they could ever forget that moment in time? No more than they could forget the moment at the foot of the cross, where Jesus died.
The angel tells them that Jesus has been raised from the dead, just as he said he would be and that they are to go quickly to Galilee and tell the other disciples. As they begin running from the tomb they encounter the risen Jesus, who speaks to them; and they fall down at his feet and worship him. They will always remember how Jesus looked and how they felt in that very moment.
This is it! This is the defining moment in our faith. If there had not been a resurrection, there would not be the Christian Church. If there had not been the resurrection, you and I and all of the world’s people would not have been given the promise of eternal life. We would not have hope when our loved ones die. We would not know about the Son of God who taught us that to love God first and to love our neighbor second is the only way to love and to live an abundant life.
This is it! The resurrection is the solid rock on which our faith is built. It changed the world over 2,000 years ago and it still changes lives today!
You and I were not there, but others were eye witnesses. In the four gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John; and in the book of Acts, which is a journal of the beginning and the building of Christ’s church; and in the letters written to the early church by those who were there or who had encountered the Risen Christ– they knew that This is It!
This is the reason Jesus was born, lived, died; to be raised from the dead. There were eye witnesses who wrote about the resurrection, giving us proof. But the Resurrection of Jesus Christ was never meant to be proved. It was meant to be experienced!
Those early witnesses were very passionate about their testimonies. Many were willing to be martyred in defense of their convictions. The most convincing evidence of the Resurrection of Christ, however, is the trans-formation of the people who know and believe in Jesus.
The only proof of Easter I will ever need is my own memory. I remember what my life was like before I met the living Christ and I know what my life is now, as I share it with Him. I have seen with my own heart what the Resurrected Son of God can do in people’s lives. The risen Jesus Christ has made all the difference; not only in my life, but in the lives of millions of others as well.
This is the way to abundant life, here and in eternity. This is It! Believing in and having a relationship with the Living Jesus Christ.
Recovering drug and alcohol addicts tell me. “I asked God to take away my addiction, and now I can’t stand the taste of alcohol.” “Since I’ve let Jesus in, I just can’t live the life I have led. I want a new life.” People in struggling relationships say, “I look at my spouse now that I’ve given my heart and life to Christ and see a different person. I see a person I choose to love.” Those who have been devastated by the death of a loved one, tell me. “Now that I believe in Jesus as the resurrected Son of God, I know that I will see my loved one again.”
When Mary Magdalene, the other Mary and the rest of the disciples understood that the Resurrection was the defining moment in their faith; they understood that, ‘This is It,’ the reason Jesus suffered, died and was buried. But there is another, ‘This is It,’ in this passage from Matthew this morning.
The Resurrected Jesus meets with his disciples and He gives them clear instructions.
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember I am with you always to the end of the age.” –Matt.28:18-20
This is It! This is what you and I are called to do now. We are told by Jesus to go and tell what we know for sure; what we have experienced- the risen Jesus Christ: Go, baptize, teach, and obey.
The resurrection didn’t stop in a freeze frame on that first Easter morning. Lives have been resurrected by the risen Jesus ever since. Many more lives still lie entombed by sin. It is you and I who must go, baptize, teach, and obey, that others may know and experience our risen Savior.
This is it, fellow Christians! Go and tell what you know for sure. Jesus Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!
Pastor Rosemary DeHut