"He is Risen Indeed!" Jesus victorious over death: this is the good news of the Gospels.
Interestingly, each Gospel tells those present, and us, the story a little differently.
Matthew 28:6 - The angel of the Lord says "He is not here. He is risen just as he said."
Mark 16:6b - The angel says, "He is risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him."
Luke 24:6 - The angel says, "He is not here; he has risen. Remember how he told you while he was still with you in Galilee."
John 20:1-18 - Here, Mary Magdalene and then Peter and others look in the tomb and see Jesus is not there. Then while Peter goes to tell the others, Mary Magdalene stays at the tomb and the Lord himself appears. But it's only when Jesus speaks her name, "Mary," that she realizes it's Jesus, risen from the dead.
Interesting, isn't it, how the four accounts differ so slightly. And the one that I find most interesting (at least this year) is the passage from Mark. The angel is saying, "He is risen, but if you don't believe me, then look for yourself and know the truth."
It's also interesting what we hear and who we choose to believe. If the messenger is a mentally ill person standing on the corner and shouting "the sky is falling," we would tend to not believe him. If we knew the messenger was an angel from God, we would believe, wouldn't we?
If faith is believing what can't be seen, we have to believe some of the messengers in our lives. And for many of us, the main messenger from God is his Holy Word. God speaks to us about all things through scripture. This is especially true when it comes to His love for us as demonstrated through Jesus' birth, death and resurrection. The birth of God incarnate into the world is reason to celebrate God's love for us for sure. But the greater cause for celebration is Christ's victory over death.Why? Because he shares that victory with each of us who have faith and believe ..We receive the gift of eternal life.
We are called to share this good news, and never is it more true than at Easter. This reminds me of a grandmother in one of my previous churches whose birthday one year was the day before Easter. When her children and grandchildren asked her what she wanted for her birthday, she replied "I just want all of us to go to church on Easter Sunday!" All 16 of them, children and grandchildren, came to praise God that Easter.
I pray that you, your family and friends will attend a church on Easter, April 5. Christ Jesus is risen indeed!
Rick Carpenter is pastor at the United Methodist Church in Dolores and First United Methodist Church in Dove Creek.