Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. 2 So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” 3 Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went toward the tomb. 4 The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5 He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. 6 Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, 7 and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. 8 Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; 9 for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. 10 Then the disciples returned to their homes. 11 But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; 12 and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. 13 They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” 14 When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15 Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” 16 Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni!” (which means Teacher). 17 Jesus said to her, “Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” 18 Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”; and she told them that he had said these things to her.
“The Have Nothing On You”
Sermon on John 20:1-18
Mary cried out to Peter and the other disciples, “They have taken the Lord, and I don’t know where they’ve laid him.” Mary cried out to angels in a tomb, “They have taken away my Lord, and I don’t know where they’ve laid him.”
Who are they?
You know who they are. They are everything and everyone who is against you. If you don’t know who is against you, listen to talk radio. Read the blogs! Watch “news entertainment.” As the old man said to me when I was a television reporter, “You know what television is, it’s the ‘devil’s eye.’” The devil is out to divide us and them. I don’t worry about us. It’s them. They seem intent on taking away my Lord. Who are they? They’re everywhere.
On Tuesday I was picking up my blood pressure medicine at the Kroger’s pharmacy in Green Hills. I wasn’t on blood pressure medicine until I met many of you.
Anyway, I digress. I was picking up some blood pressure medicine and I decided to stand outside of Kroger’s rather than to go in the store and stand in line at a pharmacy. I figure if people who are standing in line at a pharmacy are sick, “They’re” going to make me sick. “They” always do. They. Anyway, I digress.
I went to the window and said, “I’m here to pick up my refill.” She said, “It says here your prescription card has expired. Did they send you a new card?” I don’t think they did! They!
I said, “My wife is on my plan. She just picked up medicine. She’s on my plan.”
She said, “Let me call your provider.” She disappeared. Meanwhile, I’m looking up on my phone my provider and I am able to download a digital copy of my new card. “I have it!” But I could see through the tinted glass that the woman who was helping me is now on the phone about 18 yards away. So, I’m trying to do the international sign for “I found my prescription card. Hang up the phone and get me my pills.” You know the sign. She didn’t know the sign.
And then I smelled cigarette smoke. Strong cigarette smoke. I turned around and there’s a guy on his smoke break and he decided to take me with him. She finally came back. I said, “I have it.” She said, “Just a second.” She pointed over my shoulder. I had no idea what she was pointing to. And then I figured out that she’s communicating with someone in a white SUV at the other end of the parking lot. She jettisoned his prescriptions through a tube! I turned back to the window and she was gone. Then she was back.
I held up my phone. She wrote the numbers down. She said, “Very good I’ll get your prescription filled. It will be a few minutes.”
What’s with that? I’ve never taken a tour of a pharmacy, but in my mind, I see it as a place where you have to take the pills out of the big bottles and put them in little bottles. That’s it. If you’re a pharmacist, my apologies; I’m sure it’s a lot more complicated. Maybe we can have lunch someday. I’ll buy. You can explain to me why it takes 11 minutes or two Marlboro Lights to fill a bottle of blood pressure pills.
But she came back, and she said, “I only have two pills left. I’ll give you the two pills and that way you won’t have to come back right away. I won’t charge you. Do you have any questions?” I said, “Well, It doesn’t look like can overdose. I should be okay.” “They” didn’t send me a new card. “They” didn’t have any pills. “They” take their smoke breaks on me. THEY are against me.
And yet I know, I’m privileged, and my story can’t hold a candle to the “theys” billions of people face. My little event is nothing compared to the many who don’t have insurance or health care, or those who can’t afford the pills in the first place.
I think, too, of the woman at the license bureau standing in line. Standing in line. Because that’s what “they” make you do. She needed a new license, only to find out that her proof of residency wasn’t good enough. She got laid off and couldn’t afford the rent, and had to move in with her sister. She doesn’t have anything with her name on it. She needs the license to get to her new job. How is she supposed to live? “They” make it so people don’t have a prayer. It’s been legislated right out of their souls. They!
The last 12 months have been a study in “they.” “They” who make the mask mandates. “They” who won’t wear a mask. “They” who are ruining this country. “They” who are constricting my freedoms! “They” who kept us out of church. “They” who got us outside on an Easter morning, freezing.
Easter morning begins with “they!” “They have taken away my Lord and I don’t know where they’ve laid him.” She even blames the gardener. “Did you take him away?
But the gardener says her name, “Mary!”
It dawns on her that the gardener is her salvation. And…. “THEY?” GONE! … Power, joy, life! “I have seen the Lord.” “I have seen the Lord.”
It’s a statement of faith. It’s our statement of faith – “I have seen the Lord.” Say it with me. “I have seen the Lord!” How do those words feel to you? Are they your words or are they “THEIR” words? You can say the words, “I have seen the Lord,” but if they ask where? When? You have no words.
I get it. There can be long, lonely, faithless days. And you can do all the right religious things and still nothing. You can have lilies and music and no Jesus. You can put Easter on a calendar, and no Jesus. I was surprised to find Easter on Thursday evening. On Maundy Thursday, we had a service. My frame of mind was that this was the beginning of a slew of services over the next few days. Mind on the details of everything.
And then something happened that I can’t explain during that service. In the water that poured into a font, the risen Lord came to me, and I was so thankful for such a presence.
And the choir sang, full voices, “I will walk before the Lord in the land of the living. For you have delivered my soul from death, delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, and my feet from falling; in the land of the living.”
And I have seen the Lord. I needed him so much!
I have seen the Lord. When? Where?
If you’re empty of words, it’s okay. The words can be, “Help me to see.” “I believe, but help my unbelief.” The Lord will. It may be that the first step in faith is just showing up. The good news is like Peter and the other disciples, you showed up. Paul says it this way, “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing the things you have seen and heard in me… And the God of peace will surprise you!”
But if you are here this morning, your hearts are alive. If you’re here this morning with a skip in your step because, “You have seen the Lord,” then be the Body of Christ for those who are struggling. They may be sitting right next to you. I know a man for whom this past year has sucked the life right out of him. And I pray for him because he can no longer pray. No faith.
Pray for one another. Look at the faces you encounter! Bring the resurrection. Go to the hard places. Go to those who weep at the license bureau. Go to those who have to beg to pay their electric bill. Go to those who weep… say their names… be their answer to prayer.
Why are you crying? What’s breaking your heart? We have the prescription. For we have seen the Lord. He has risen! He has risen indeed!
Copyright©Donovan A. Drake 2021