Today I will be sharing part 1 of a 3 part Easter Sermon I preached many years ago.
Now Mary Magdalene goes to the tomb filled with grief over the death of her friend. She needed to see one more time. Mary went to the tomb, knowing that everything was going to be different, trying to find some way to bring the last few days to an ending that she could live with. But what she finds is emptiness. Jesus is not in the tomb. Now more than ever she needs Jesus to be where he is supposed to be, but he is not there. After his death, he had been placed in a safe place. There was a big stone placed in front of the tomb. The Romans and the Jewish religious leaders wanted to be sure he stayed put and Jesus’ followers wanted Jesus to be in a place they could find him. They begin to ask one another – where did you put Jesus? On that morning everyone was asking the same question – Where is Jesus? They never once thought He had risen from the dead, until they were told. The thought never crossed their minds! It never crossed their minds that He was no longer bound by the grave clothes and had risen like He said.
Unfortunately, it is sometimes hard to live with a risen Christ. A risen Jesus Is not bound to our ideas or to our ways.
The question for us is where have we put Jesus? Do we need a Jesus that makes sense to us, so we cling to a definition that makes it hard for us to get to know Jesus? Where have we put Jesus? Some of us need to keep Jesus in a safe place so we can find him when we need him so we put Jesus in places that are comfortable and familiar to us. We aren’t so sure that we want Jesus to be stirring things up in our lives. It’s a good story. It was good that he did miracles for you once upon a time, but we aren’t so sure that we want Jesus messing with our lives now. We have put Jesus in gorgeous sanctuaries behind the stained glass that makes us feel good. We go to our holy places to find Jesus because it seems appropriate that he have a holy place to reside, forgetting that we are to be the Holy Temples in which He resides. We take the life of Jesus that was always out on the edge, that was on the move and we try to put him in some calm and quiet box. And when we do this, we put Jesus in places that Jesus is not very familiar with.
Where have we put Jesus?
Some of us have turned Jesus into a great teacher, but have stripped away the power. We know he is with us in the cause of Christianity, but we don’t allow Him the power to make the difference that we long for in the world. But at least we have him where we can find him. We have him under control. Since that first Easter morning people have been trying to find Jesus – and we have tried to put Jesus in some of the most unusual places. The religious institutions have tried to put Jesus in rules and doctrines. The Pharisees and other Jewish leaders took the Book of the Law and added volumes of their own interpretation prompting Jesus to tell them they put more on people than they should have to carry. We see the same actions at work today as people have taken the Bible and written volumes of their own interpretation again adding a load that Christ never meant for us to bear. Some of us have Jesus locked up in memories from the past. Childhood memories of a Jesus in a storybook doing the things we like for Jesus to do – like welcoming the children, smiling, and feeding the hungry. Jesus is under control when Jesus is just a good memory. So, today I ask you – where have you put Jesus? Are we more
comfortable with a dead Jesus that is kept in his place or a living Christ that continues to be on the move that lives outside of a box?
Please come back next Friday for Part 2 of Where is Jesus?