The Lutheran Church of the Triune God

Easter Sunday                                                                                                             April 5, 2015

 

Mark 16:1-8                                        See and Tell Disciples

 

Dear fellow redeemed,

A good photographer is into both seeing and telling.

It’s what you plan to do when you go vacationing.

*          Let’s say you plan a trip to Norway or Germany or New Zealand.

            Your first goal is see what you came to see.  So you scout out the beautiful landscape. 

            You then snap away, capturing what will best represent a particular city or territory.

*          Your second goal is to tell others of your trip.

            And the best way of doing that is by assembling a scrap book or photo album.

*          It makes for a wonderful trip.  First you see the sights.  Then you tell the story.

 

Well, the story of Easter is about seeing and telling of something even more beautiful.

*          “He is risen . . . See the place where they laid him. . . . Go, tell his disciples and Peter

            that he is going before you into Galilee.”

*          It’s what Christian disciples do.  We see the evidence of Christ’s resurrection.

            We observe the particulars; the stone that’s been rolled away from the entrance of the

            tomb, the empty grave, which assures us that Jesus is risen indeed and has secured our

            victory over death and sin.  We capture it in our thoughts and minds until we receive the

            opportunity to convey what we’ve seen to others; tell them the story.

*          However, the world consists of three different kinds of disciples.

            Some are not much into telling and some are more into telling than they are seeing.

*          The first kind is what we might call “show and tell disciples.”

            They’re more into telling, telling you something about themselves.

*          It may remind you of your favorite pastime in grade school.  You loved “show and tell”,

            because you no longer had to concentrate on the teacher or your homework.

*          In fact, this was the one time when you could be the teacher, demonstrating to your peers

            everything you knew about a particular place or hobby.

*          Of course, today you’ll admit it was never really about others learning, it was all about

            you!

 

Show and Tell: for many, this seemed like a natural activity when Christ first arrived on the scene.

*          People saw his miracles. 

            And immediately saw their opportunity to show him off to the world.

*          In one particular instance, following Christ’s feeding the five thousand, people wanted to

            force him to be their king.  But Jesus hadn’t come to be served, to be a show off, he came

            in orderto serve and give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).

*          It explains why on a number of occasions Jesus impressed on his hearers that no telling

            should take place at this time.  The people should tell no one that he was the Christ, for

            their telling would give a wrong impression of why he had come.

*          Remember the man who was deaf and had a speech impediment?

            Jesus puts his fingers into his ears, spits, and looks to heaven.

            “Be opened” he commands.  And it is so.

*          But Jesus charges them to tell no one.  Of course it didn’t work.

            “The more he charged them, the more zealously they proclaimed it.”

            They had a story to tell.

 

Christ has never been into “show and tell.”  But people still want to play the game.

*          And so it is in the church today.  People have a story to tell, and once again it hasn’t to do

            with Christ and his death and his resurrection.

  1        It has to do with how I became a Christian.

  2        Or it has to do with how the Lord is using me at my congregation.

            I’ve finally been asked serve in a particular position!

  3        Or God is apparently using me outside of the church, at work or in the community.

            I’m finally using God’s gifts and doing what I’ve wanted to do all these years!

*          We tell our story through volunteer work, through music, through life’s make overs.

 

Now, please don’t get me wrong. 

*          Our work is appreciated and our heart is in the right place.

            We may even be doing what our Lord desires and what he’s called us to do.

*          But the story’s not about us. Once we believe it is, it’s not “see and tell” we’re engaged

            in. It’s “show and tell.” We’re not telling others about Christ.

            We’re focusing on ourselves.

*          We might learn something from the apostle Paul.

            He could have put himself in the spotlight on a number of fronts.

*          “I worked harder than any of them” he says, “though it was not I, but the grace of God

            that is with me.”  It was never about him.  And it shouldn’t have been.

*          “For I am the least of the apostles, he declares, unworthy to be called an apostle.”

 

Some disciples are into telling but have the wrong focus in their telling.

Others are afraid of any kind of telling.  We may call them, your “see and flee” disciples.

*          As we turn to our Gospel reading, we’re introduced to those who are given the first

            opportunity to tell the Easter story. 

*          However the women are overwhelmed by what they see and hear at the grave-sight. 

            Christ’s body is missing and this angel speaks of him as having risen . . .

            “See the place where they laid him.”

*          They see the empty tomb but they flee, “for trembling and astonishment had seized

            them.” They’re so afraid “that they (say) nothing to anyone.”

*          The Lord had spoken very plainly of this day, telling his disciples more than once or

            twice. He’d suffer under the religious leaders and he’d be killed, but he’d rise three days

            later.

*          And now they hear the message once again, “He is risen; he is not here.”

            But this greatest opportunity of a lifetime becomes an occasion not to cheer but to fear.

           

And so it is in the church today. 

*          People come to the divine service in order to see Christ.

            Unfortunately, once they determine that Christ does not remain in an empty tomb, but

            wants us to see him where he’s present and lives today, in his Word and Sacraments, they

            flee for weeks or even months.

*          One may assume it’s not because they have something better to do. It’s because they’re

            afraid. They’re afraid of becoming too committed.  Habits require time and effort.

            People might even wonder about them if they go to church too much.

*          Speaking of church habits, you might be one who insists, “I haven’t gone anywhere. 

            In fact you’ll see me here on the Lord’s day more often than you won’t see me here.”

*          But you’ll admit it, won’t you?  You’d much rather see than tell.  You’re thinking, “I

            wouldn’t know the first think about relating the Gospel to a certain acquaintance!”

 

“See the place where they laid him.”

*          Whether you’re here to see every Sunday, or a few times a year, you may be told the

            same thing.  If you’re afraid to see and then tell, it’s going to be for one of two reasons.

*          Either you see yourself as more worthy of being here than certain other people and you

            don’t want to admit it, or certain other people perceive that you see yourself as more

            worthy of being here, and you don’t want to prove them wrong.

*          Now, obviously in some cases you can’t help it if someone draws a certain conclusion,

            because they’re afraid of seeing.  They’re afraid that regardless of what you think, they’re

            indeed not worthy of seeing Christ and receiving his forgiveness.

 

In other cases, however, and perhaps in most cases, this person will welcome what we’re telling them. 

You just have to figure out how to bring them into the story.

*          Christians sometimes have the idea that telling the story, confessing our faith, means

            springing  out of nowhere that this person, like you, is a sinner and they need Christ.

*          But participating in telling can be so much easier than that.

            Let them begin the conversation.  Let them talk about their sin first.

*          What I’m suggesting is listen to them when they tell you how they’re hurting.

  1        Maybe they’ve ruined things with a given loved one. 

            They can’t seem to keep their mouth shut.

  2        Or maybe your friend has been fired from work.

            Negotiations are out of the question and he can’t afford to retire yet.

  3        Or maybe her husband has received bad news from his doctor. 

            He’s not going to beat his cancer.

*          This certain person already knows about the shame and wages of sin.

            However, you can tell him or her how thankful you are that our blunders and misfortunes

            don’t have the last word in our lives.  Christ and his resurrection do.

*          “He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all

            faces.”

 

That’s basically what it means to be a See and Tell Disciple.

*          You’re not more worthy of seeing Christ.  And this certain person in your life isn’t any

            less worthy.  You’re both sinners who “fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

            That’s why what we see today is relevant to all.

*          But am I not at a disadvantage compared to those women at the tomb?

            They were eye witnesses of Christ’s resurrection. 

            Once they overcame their initial fears they had a miracle they could tell others first hand.

*          But that’s not really accurate.  Unlike those who witnessed Christ heal the deaf and mute,

            or the blind and lame, these women did not actually witness the resurrection. 

            They merely saw the effects of the miracle.

*          Remember the words of the angel?

            “You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified.  He has risen: he is not here.’”

*          There was no miracle to show or to be seen. There was simply a message to be told.

            “But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. 

            There you will see him, just as he told you.”

*          Notice, the women are not told to drag the disciples back to the grave to see some

            miracle. They are simply to believe the word which Jesus had spoken first.

 

And that’s also our great privilege today as See and Tell Disciples.

*          Our calling is not to offer physical proof of the resurrected Christ.

            It’s to relate good news of where he may be found.

            We ask that hurting or shamed acquaintance, “are you feeling defeated because of what’s

            happened at work, or with a certain relationship, or with the health of your loved one?

*          “Do not be alarmed.  You seek Jesus . . . who was crucified. 

            He has risen: he is not here.”  Rather, he’s over here in the message of our risen Christ.

1                    He’s here in the Gospel; in the message of his atoning blood which has erased the sins of

            the entire world from God’s sight.

2                    He’s here in Holy Communion where he gives you with his body and blood forgiveness

            and everlasting life.

 3         He’s here in his today’s message where he tells you that he’s taken upon himself all of

            your sins, and blunders, and afflictions, and anxieties in order to defeat them on the cross.

 4         He’s here in the Easter story which is just as valid as ever as it was written just for you!

 

If you’re feeling like you’re more into seeing than telling, it might be because you’re missing how

the two are connected.

*          I might explain by talking about my current glasses and the frustration I’ve had recently

            in the chapel with seeing my sermon.  With one pair of glasses I could see my manuscript

            without any trouble, but I couldn’t see you unless I removed my glasses.

            With the other pair I could see you fine but not my manuscript.

*          Guess which pair I chose?

            That’s right.  It’s more important that I see my message than that I see you. 

*          And the same is true of any confessing Christian.

            For sure, you want to see those to whom you’re doing your telling.

            You want to see the expression on their face, when you haven’t quite connected.

            They have a question and you need to do some more explaining.

*          But don’t be afraid of what you can’t see, because God hasn’t revealed to you what kind

            of effect your words will have.

*          What is of first importance is that you can relate what you see before your this day, the

            everlasting beauty of the resurrection message, “that Christ died for our sins . . . , that he

            was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.”

*          Yes. Jesus Christ died, he was raised, and you may stop being afraid.         Amen.

 

May the peace of God which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.