We’ve been on the way.
This Lent at Andrews UMC, we have followed Jesus’ way around the Holy Land (thanks to Adam Hamilton and his helpful resources). Starting with Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan River, we’ve followed him
through the temptation in the wilderness,
up north to his healing ministry in Capernaum,
into the mountains to hear his preaching,
out on the Sea of Galilee to see some miracles,
south to Samaria to witness his ministry with the outcasts,
and finally into Jerusalem for the high of Palm Sunday and the low of his death.
If we mapped out Jesus’ physical journey, it would look like a wandering loop-de-loop. Jesus did not stay put in Nazareth and wait for people to come to him – although it seems as though they would have, judging by the crowds he gathered. No, Jesus got up and went to where the people were, so that he could minister to those that would never have otherwise met him. Jesus’ way went
But in another sense, different but equally true, Jesus’ way was like an unwavering arrow pointing straight to Jerusalem. He might look like he’s wandering aimlessly, but he is not; Jesus knows all along that he is ultimately called to King David’s city. He predicts this three times to his disciples. When he arrives in Jerusalem, it’s like that arrow stops at a big “X marks the spot.” Jerusalem is the end of the line, where Jesus dies on the cross.
Jerusalem is the end of the Way.
C’mon, now. You’re not going to just sit there and listen to that without objection, are you? Is Jerusalem the end of the Way?
We are all here – on this Easter Sunday morning – because that statement is definitively NOT true. Neither Jerusalem nor death were the end of the Way.
The women who arrive at the tomb on the first Easter think it’s the end. They come expecting to find a body in that tomb. Their arms are filled with spices to anoint their dead rabbi. But when they get there, they’re confused. The big stone door is rolled aside. The tomb is empty.
Is this tomb the end of the Way?
An angel is there, waiting for them. He tells them that Jesus is not dead, as they thought – he is alive, and going on ahead of them to Galilee! So go, he says, and tell the disciples to meet him there.
But the women are afraid. Mark’s gospel says they ran off without saying a word to anyone. That’s weird, right? That doesn’t sound good for this Jesus-movement at all.
Are these silent women the end of the Way?
No, because here we all are on Easter Sunday morning. That means the women must have gotten over their fears and gone on and told someone, who told others, who told more people, who have eventually told someone… who told us. We are here this morning as followers of the Way, the Way of Jesus Christ. Or maybe as those interested in the Way, or as those who are related to someone who believes in the Way. Whatever reason you’re here for, you are current end of the long line of people who were told by those first women at the tomb.
One day, maybe soon but hopefully later, our earthly lives will end. We will lie down for a last time, we will say a final goodbye, we will sleep and not wake up. One day, all of us who are here today will be gone.
Then, then, will that finally be the end of the Way?
No, because the tomb was unexpectedly empty on the first Easter. Our Lord Jesus Christ rose from the grave. He defeated death, not just for himself, but for all of us.
The Way continued then, it continues now, and it will continue forever for all of us.
All because of Jesus Christ.
Who is the way, the truth, and the life.
Forever and ever.