April 9, 2023 – The Resurrection of Our Lord – Matthew 28:1-10
Good morning. Go home. You will see me there.
That is, loosely paraphrased, what Jesus says to Mary Magdalene and the other Mary when he meets them. The women are reeling from their experience of an earthquake, stunned by their encounter with an angel, and hastening to tell the disciples the good news. And on their way, they run into none other than the risen Lord himself. The moment is just ripe for some grand speech from Jesus, or at least a pithy quote like “I’m back,” . . . something memorable. But when he intercepts these two women, he simply says, “Greetings!” like it’s any other Sunday morning. “Good morning. Go tell my brothers to go to Galilee.” In other words, “Tell them to go home. To go back to the place where we started. Good morning. Go home. You will see me there.”
It seems a strangely subdued message for a day as bright with hope as Easter day. Easter is about stepping out in courage and joy to claim the promise of new life. Easter is about looking forward and moving ahead – and yet, Jesus tells them to go back to their old stomping ground. I imagine the disciples might have been a bit confused by these instructions. If the Jesus movement were to continue, wouldn’t a better strategy have been to do a re-launch right there in Jerusalem? Crowds of people were there for the Passover. And they had all seen what they had thought was the bitter end of the Jesus movement. Perhaps Jesus should have hired a PR firm because it sure feels like going back to Galilee misses some great publicity. Imagine what a splash he could have made had he resurrected his campaign right there in the place where he, himself, had been resurrected. Imagine the photo-ops! And yet his message was simply: “Good morning. Go home. You will see me there.”
But you know, “Good morning – go home – you will see me there” is kind of genius. Because it’s a back-to-basics message. Back to the beginning. It would have been easy to assume that Jesus’ resurrection had changed everything. And his rising from the dead does bring everything into focus, it does give substance to our hope. But it doesn’t change the basic message of our Lord. All the things that Jesus had done and all the things that Jesus had taught and all the people that Jesus had fed and all the people that Jesus had healed – they were exactly the kinds of things that his followers were supposed to keep on doing in his name. That we should keep on doing in his name. Continuing his work of love. That is part of the message of Easter.
“Good morning – go home – you will see me there” is also a message of forgiveness. It’s not “You blew it, go home, and wait for the consequences.” This is not Jesus sending the disciples to their rooms, although they had clearly messed up along the way, including very recently in their memory, deserting Jesus when the going got tough. Think of him sending them home rather as a giant do-over. Forgiven for all their mis-steps, they have an opportunity to start again from square one. Just as we do when we mess up. It’s why we remember our baptism. The day that we were baptized is the day that God made a home in us. The day that we were baptized is the day that we were promised that God would be with us forever, in this life and the next. The day that we were baptized is the day that we were washed clean of all of our sin, and throughout our lives, we are invited to come home again to that day, to that place of forgiveness, that place of fresh, new life, that place of second chances. That, too, is a part of the message of Easter.
“Good morning – go home – you will see me there” is, finally, a reminder that at home, in our daily life, in our day-to-day activities and encounters with one another, we will see the risen Lord. It’s easy to feel the presence of the risen Lord in this place today with the joyous sounds of bells and organ; with the stunning sight of a white-draped cross and floral display; in the joyful faces of friends old and new and those we have yet to meet; in sacramental water, bread, and wine. But if Easter means anything, it means that Jesus, now risen, is not confined to a Temple made with human hands. He is just as present in our daily struggles and joys. He is in Wilbraham and Springfield and Ludlow and Monson and all the places we call home. He is in our friends and our families, in conversation and laughter, in hugs and tears. Even the springtime buds reflect the new life and grace he brings to our world. For Jesus is Lord of all the earth.
Good morning. Go home. You will see me there. It doesn’t have quite the same punch as “Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!” But maybe it’s another kind of Easter greeting. Let’s try it: Good morning. Go home. Now you respond: we will see Jesus.
Good morning. Go home. We will see Jesus. You will see Jesus whenever you get back to the basics of loving in his name.
Good morning. Go home. We will see Jesus. You will see Jesus in the grace of forgiveness and second chances.
Good morning. Go home. We will see Jesus. You will see Jesus – around and within you, never far away.
Good morning. Go home. We will see Jesus. Alleluia!