West Point Grey United Church
Mar 31, 2024

What Does Easter Really Mean For Us?

Mark 16:1-8

Mark 16:1-8

The Resurrection of Jesus16 When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. They had been saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?” When they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled back. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed. But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you.” So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.[a]


I am not a student of Russian history, but I read this week of one of the leaders of the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917 whose name was Nikolai Ivanovich Bukharin. He was editor of the Soviet newspaper Pravda and a full member of the Politburo. He travelled from Moscow to Kiev in 1930 to address a huge crowd on the subject of atheism. He aimed his heavy assault on Christianity for over one hour, then asked “are there any questions?”. After a long silence one man approached the platform and stood at the lectern, quietly surveying the silent crowd. Finally he shouted the words well known in the Russian Orthodox Church; “CHRIST  IS  RISEN”. En masse the crowd arose and shouted “HE  IS  RISEN  INDEED”.

I say to you this morning: CHRIST  IS  RISEN! (congregational response:


Jesus’ friends, his family, and indeed all of Jerusalem thought Jesus was dead. In spite of what Jesus had shared with his closest disciples about his suffering and his death and being raised from death after 3 days. Not one of them expected to see Jesus again after he was laid in the grave. When Jesus died, their hopes died, their convictions died, indeed their faith died and they  huddled in the upper room where they had just celebrated the Passover together, afraid that the authorities would treat them as Jesus had been treated.

No one really expected the resurrection, but something did happen. Two women went to the tomb not to see if the Lord had risen, but to finish the job of burying him. Our gracious God made things happen that have changed the world, and changed our lives too. God raised the faith of Jesus’ disciples and brought to life again their dead convictions and restored the hopes they had lost.

If it had not been for the resurrection, we would not be here today. The disciples would never have had the courage to say another word about Jesus in public. Instead they proclaimed their faith in God who had restored to life their Lord , their leader. And the resurrection is of vital importance to us not because it gives a nice ending to Jesus’ story, but because it is the beginning of our story, the beginning of the Christian Church. Easter helps us understand that the power and love of God can bring goodness out of evil, life out of death, and hope out of despair. As Christians we are promised that when we trust and believe in the power and love of God, that our lives will be blessed and we can be a blessing to others.

Think again about what happened to the disciples after that first Easter morning, after they finally accepted the reality that Jesus was indeed with them in person. They came out of the upper room where they had huddled in fear and went to the ends of the earth creating a church. They went from being afraid of dying to offering their very lives to help others come to the faith, and hope, and joy they had. The disciples were given the power to heal and to help others, the power to conquer their own fear and despair and to defeat the fear and despair that afflicts others.

So what does Easter mean for us ? Even though there are many questions we don’t have easy answers for, we can believe that God’s love and grace were present for Jesus’ closest friends during those days of Easter, and that this power and love of God continue to this day giving faith and courage and hope and strength to us, as we seek to be disciples of Jesus, reaching out to others with generous spirits and loving care.