The Resurrection of Our Lord 2019

Mark 16:1-8

April 21, 2019 +++ Immanuel Evangelical-Lutheran Church, Alexandria, Virginia

Alleluia! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

“Who will roll away the stone?” Plodding in sorrow to the tomb of Jesus, the women ask this impossible question. Impossible for more than reason of the stone’s weight. The question ponders the weight of countless stones entombing countless bones dry and lifeless.

Cave Tomb

“Who will roll away the stone?” is a question some other women dared not ask just eight days earlier. Those two women had seen their brother die.

And Jesus had let them down. One of them, named Martha, said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.” It had taken Jesus four days to arrive. He’s too late! she thinks. Her sister Mary stays in the house. She won’t come out and greet Jesus. He has let them down. He’s too late!

Their brother is already in the tomb. Behind the stone, the corpse reeks. Death had visited them, and they were unprepared. Is anyone ever prepared?

Experience teaches us something dreadful: Death is stronger than life. The idea of God becomes an accusation. “Why?! Why make us for this?” From such a point of view, hostility to religion has a certain logic. Alexander Schmemann put it this way: “What is this intense conflict with religion, if nothing other than a mindless attempt to root out of human consciousness the memory and concern with death and consequently the question: why do I live this brief and fragile life?” (O Death, Where Is Thy Sting?, p24). In other words, we must drive from our minds the idea of death, lest it reveal the meaninglessness of our lives.

But if we do dare ask ourselves this question—“Why do I live this brief and fragile life?”—then the next thought is to accuse God, blame God for the problem – even insist we do not believe in Him, like a teenage son shouting at his father, “I hate you!”


So, into this world He made, the world which now hates Him – God comes. He has heard the cries, the accusations, and the laments. God walks to the tomb of His friend Lazarus. He listens to the accusations of Lazarus’ sisters. “Where were you? Why didn’t you come? If you had been here, this would not have happened!” The words sting like slaps to His face.

Jesus offers no excuses, no justification. “Jesus wept.” In those tears dripping down the cheeks of God are the loss of a friend and a lament at what the world has become (Schmemann, p9).

Who can roll away the stone? Not just this stone for these sisters, but for every sister, wife, mother, daughter lamenting the loss of a brother, husband, father, son? Jesus takes all the accusations of the sisters, the accusations of Adam, who blamed the wife God gave him, the accusations of every rebel, every murderer and every murder victim; the accusations of everyone oppressed, everyone depressed, everyone pressed down, squeezed and misshapen, lonely and out-of-place, the accusation of every gravestone crying out in agony and pain and loss, wanting justice, wanting vengeance – to all of it Jesus says, “Yes, I hear your accusations, I hear your cries, I hear even your lies and your hatred – and I will not argue with you. I plead guilty to all of it.”

So on the cross it’s God who dies. God who is punished. Man put God on trial, found Him guilty, and He went willingly to His own execution. They lay in the grave the One who built the earth’s foundation.


Who will roll away that stone? Jesus doesn’t need the stone rolled away to get out. The power of the divine majesty by which He trod upon the water and passed through closed doors cannot be contained by a tomb no matter how heavy the door. It’s the same power that enables the Lord Jesus to be present in bread and wine at Eucharists through the world across time and space.

The stone is rolled away so that the women can see that the grave is emptied of its power. Death has lost its sting. Death bit into the stone and broke its teeth. 

But the stone is rolled away. The seal of the grave is broken, and the stone is rolled away so that the women can see that the grave is emptied of its power. Death has lost its sting. Death bit into the stone and broke its teeth. 


What is left of our accusations, our loneliness, our anxiety, our pride? “If you had been here, Jesus…” we begin to say, and He says, “I have already been there. I died your death. Your sins are Mine, and My righteousness is yours. Your grief is Mine, and My joy is yours. Your despair is Mine, and My peace is yours. Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”


You will still walk down paths of grief and sorrow. If they crucified the Lord, can a disciple expect no hardship or labor?

But if this world is an enormous graveyard, the resurrection of Jesus reveals to us that all the stones shall be rolled away. For Christ’s resurrection foretells our own. In this Eucharist you are joined to the risen Christ. The power of His resurrection nourishes your body. His holy blood cleanses your conscience from the pollution of your past.


You shall not die, but live.

And every moment of your life now has meaning, for you are disciples of the Risen One. 

Every child you nurture, every sin you forgive, every piece of fruit you receive with thanksgiving is a sign that death has lost and the devil is defeated.

The stone is rolled away, and the door to paradise is opened.

The Alleluias were silenced for a time so that now with full meaning we might sing the resurrection of Jesus to all creation.

For the stone is rolled away, and the door to paradise is opened.


Christ is risen, and death is annihilated.

Christ is risen, and Adam and Eve are raised up from hell.

Christ is risen, and you shall rise too.

Christ is risen, and the demons are put to flight.

Christ is risen, and the angels rejoice.


So sing and dance, strike the timpani and sound the trumpet, for Jesus Christ is risen today, and Alleluia! has become the song that shall never be silenced.


Alleluia! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

Alleluia! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

Alleluia! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!