2014年5月2日金曜日

Why Are You Crying? (John 20:1-18)


Why Are You Crying? (John 20:1-18)

1.
Happy Easter!
Let’s celebrate that the being that finished his life has restored the brilliance of life. Let’s give our thanks to God that God bore the pain of crucifixion to restore our relationship with God. We human beings have neglected it for the convenience of our own lives. Let’s give thanks to God that our suffering was changed into Jesus’ suffering. We can meet him through our suffering. All these things have been given in Easter.

2. 
 The story of Easter from John is told in relation to the linen that wrapped Jesus’ body. Linen is soft, and was used to wrap dead bodies for burial. Mary Magdalene saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance of the tomb. She looked in the tomb. She did not find the body of Jesus, but the linen that had wrapped Jesus’ body. Then she returned to the disciples, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb.” So two disciples started for the tomb, and they recognized what Mary Magdalene said. They also forgot that Jesus said that he would be resurrected. They thought that his body was stolen.

3.
 But they saw the strips of linen lying there. The disciples and Mary saw no body of Jesus, but the linen. They saw the linen that had wrapped the body of Jesus. It was neither untied carelessly nor treated roughly. They must have wondered why the body was not taken out wrapped up as it was. The linen was left on the spot where the body had been. The linen and the burial cloth are described differently. The former was “lying there,” and the latter was “folded up.” It gives the feeling that the body slipped out without untying. We know that the body of Jesus was not stolen but he was raised. So Jesus slipped his body out without untying the linen and went somewhere. The text from John that follows 20:19 tells us that Jesus suddenly appeared in the locked house. Jesus came through the locked door and the wall. We should say God is miraculous. Then why was it necessary to remove the stone from the entrance? He could have passed through the entrance freely if it was shut.

4. 
 The Bible is not written uniformly concerning the resurrection. The Bible says that the body of Jesus had wounds on his hands and his side but it does not mention any scars from the whipping at all. It does not say at all whether the wounds from being whipped were healed or not. It is natural that the truth of resurrection is unbelievable. We cannot explain it well scientifically. But one thing is sure; that Jesus is alive. There were people in power who did not want his existence. There were people who were discouraged, because Jesus was quite different from their expectation. They thought that Jesus would liberate the people by defeating the authorities. But Jesus, who was killed by those people and was buried after he breathed his last, is alive.

5. 
 Mary Magdalene said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!” Later she said, “I will get him.” Mary only thought Jesus had died. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you crying?” Mary met Jesus. He was not an illusion. Mary held on to him. “Jesus was killed, but he is alive.” It was sure.

Why did God resurrect Jesus? We don’t know. We don’t know what resurrection brought about in Jesus’ body. But one thing is sure: Jesus is alive.

6. 
 The fact that “Jesus, who was killed, is alive” shows that Jesus’ suffering does not end as it is. Jesus experienced suffering from his disciples’ betrayal. Jesus experienced suffering caused by alienation from society. Jesus experienced extreme physical pain, and the suffering of death. Those sufferings are what we experience in our lives sooner or later. Betrayal by those we love brings about suffering from loneliness in our lives. Alienation from society brings about the sorrow of denial in our lives. Jesus’ physical suffering is related to our suffering from illness, wounds, and aging. Jesus, who is alive, calls to us that we are not alone. He teaches us that we do not need to be afraid.

7.
 Jesus’ calling to us, “Why are you crying?” is the words of consolation and salvation directed to each of us. Mary met Jesus when she was sad, and her life began. Mary started to live with Jesus, believing that suffering did not end as it was, and it would give the joy of salvation. Jesus told Mary that she did not need to weep any longer. We are encouraged by his words and his look toward us, and people in suffering will rise up. Each of these shows that Jesus is alive and he continues to work for us.

8. 
 Last week I presided over the opening ceremony for a new company. The president of the company gave thanks to God for His grace on his work, and heard the words of the Bible, and prayed to God with his colleagues. Then he started his work. It was a confession of his faith and a witness to people around him. Jesus was really alive.

There is a man who has continued to share foods for homeless people. Last month I visited him during his work. Many people got foods and drinks, and enjoyed pleasant fellowship together. When I was about to return home, one man handed bread over to me. He was also homeless. He had received food on that day. He said to me, “You have nothing, Pastor!“ when he gave one pack to me. Everyone is sharing food with each other, without distinction between “supporter” or “supported.” Jesus was surely alive in him.

Last fall we visited Minamata. The record of the journey is carried in the Hongo Journal published last March. It was a whirlwind tour, but we had a moving meeting with people. We met people with fetal Minamata disease. One of them in a wheelchair showed us a photograph from when she was a child. She, standing with a smile, pushed another person’s wheelchair. When she was asked, “What would you want to do, if you regained your health?” she used to answer, “I would like to push others’ wheelchairs.” It suggests to us that our hope becomes meaningful, when it is involved with others, not with our own needs. Jesus lives in her, too.

9. 
 Jesus says to us, “Why are you crying?” Jesus accepts our tears, and says “It is not necessary to weep.” His words liberate us from suffering, and fill us with joy.

“Weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.” (Psalm 30:5)

(This is the English translation of Rev Nobuo Yasui’s sermon which is to be preached at Hongo Church on April 20, 2014)
(Translated by Toshiyuki Masujima)