I pray that this Easter season will bring you and your family new life, new growth, and new opportunity. May we all learn this Easter season to focus on others and not just ourselves—and most importantly, to focus on justice and equality for all people, animals, and plants. Equality and justice for anyone seen as less important than us. AMEN.
The real miracle this Easter Sunday is not just what Jesus did. The real miracle this morning is what Jesus didn’t do. From the very beginning of his ministry, Jesus sought to empower others and not himself. From the day that he was baptized, he refused to Lord over others.
In Matthew, John the Baptist tried to prevent this from happening saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and you come to me?” Jesus replies, “Let it be so now, for it is proper for us in this way to fulfill all righteousness.” And even though John must have felt confused, he consented.
And so in that moment when Jesus came up out of the water and was told, “You are my Son, the Beloved, with you I am well pleased,” perhaps the reason that God was so well pleased with him was because Jesus was willing to walk into a river and say to a trusted stranger, “Okay, I’m all yours. Dunk me.”
You see, this is the miracle of Easter. The miracle that Jesus entrusted others to proclaim his message and did not feel that he needed to do it himself. I mean, who meets the women at the tomb after Jesus is resurrected? Not Jesus, but an unnamed man robed in white. And who is the first to tell others that Jesus is resurrected? Not Jesus, but rather Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James.
The first people to share the story of the resurrection are not Jesus, but rather it is others who have been empowered by him to share this message of good news.
And this is how the gospel of Mark miraculously ends. Not with Jesus triumphantly sharing the Good News of resurrection on a mountaintop, but rather it ends with the message of resurrection being shared by others. And this miracle of Jesus empowering others seems so unbelievable that people again and again, just like John the Baptist, have tried to prevent this from happening.
In the gospel of Mark, the oldest of the four gospels, there are actually 4-5 alternate endings. Endings that people literally added onto the gospel because they couldn’t believe that Jesus would not appear to the disciples himself. If you don’t believe me, go ahead and open any Bible and open to Mark 16. You will notice that there is a shorter and a longer ending to Mark. The longer ending is all those other endings that were later tacked on, and they are all almost universally believed to be completely bogus.
People just don’t want to trust others. They don’t want to hear the message from anyone else but God. And I understand that. I understand. We all want to hear from God about why there are mass shootings, why are our children being killed in schools. Why are thousands of people being killed in Syria? God, how could you let the forests of the world be completely degraded, and mass extinction occur?
And who does God send to talk to us? Who comes in the name of the Lord? Three women. Three common women. Not a bearded man up in the clouds with angels and trumpets. Three common women bringing the message of resurrection, the message of HOPE.
That’s the hidden and most amazing miracle of today. Rising from the dead, healing the sick, and giving the blind sight is one thing—but empowering others to carry out the most important work on the planet and entrusting them to do so?! That’s the real miracle.
And that’s the message that Jesus brings to us today: that you can’t do anything on your own. The only way that you can make a difference is if you trust others and empower them just as Jesus empowers us.
This is ministry. This is what belonging to a church is all about.
And this is the reality that I see day to day here at St. Peters. I see Dustin empowering others to learn how to make soap, I see Patty and Noelene striving to bring our community together by empowering others to take charge. I see Chris working tirelessly with those experiencing homelessness, showing them hard love to empower them to get back on their feet. I see Kathy teaching others how to have confidence in their musical ability.
These things are all the ministry of Jesus Christ. They are sharing the message of HOPE by empowering others. The message that you can wash away your sins and be welcomed into a community of empowering others by showing hard love and compassion to all so that you can sing in joy.
So put your trust in Jesus so you can trust others AND let Jesus empower you to give more, to be more, and live more so you can empower others.