Acts 10:34-43 Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24 1 Corinthians 15:1-11 Mark 16:1-8
When Saul was on the road to Damascus he was stopped by our risen Lord and his life was changed forever. Saul who had devoted his life to persecuting Christians, changed his name to Paul and began spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ. He speaks of this in his letter to the church in Corinth that we heard read this morning, “I am the least of the apostles, unfit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me has not been in vain.” He then speaks of the work he and the other apostles are doing to make others believe in Christ.
Peter, in the Acts of the Apostles, speaks of both the life and teachings of Jesus and his death and resurrection. He then notes that Jesus commanded the apostles “to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one ordained by God as judge of the living and the dead.” Peter continues says, “All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”
Such is the power of Christ. Now, nearly 2000 years later, we are gathered to remember and celebrate the resurrection of our Lord, the one who was and is and is to come. As the women who went to the tomb discovered, Jesus is not dead, he is alive! Whether or not you believe this story to be factual, the story of Jesus of Nazareth has brought you here today. It is a remarkable story and one worth remembering.
Even if you discount the miracles he performed, Jesus lived a life worth following. He embodied the love of God and made it simple for us to understand what God wants of us. God wants us to love Christ and one another. At the Last Supper, Jesus said, “I give you a new commandment, to love one another as I have loved you.” This is as simple as it gets, yet one that we struggle with daily. It is not just the people we don’t like that we struggle to love, it is people we do not see. We are often blind the needs of others. And then there are the people we avoid altogether. Loving one another is tuff.
Jesus may have taken time for himself, going away from the crowds to pray from time to time, but he did not avoid those society rejected. One of the criticisms of Jesus was that he dined with sinners. He stopped to help the lepers and the blind. He made time for the children and blessed them. He loved everyone, and he loves each one of us!
And, whether or not you think his resurrection was the greatest April Fools joke ever, you cannot deny the fact that his love conquered death. Our presence here today is proof that his love did not end on the cross. His love continues to be experienced and expressed today by people all over the world, people who have gathered this day to celebrate his victory over death.
Paul does not claim to be equal to the apostles, those who followed Jesus before his death, but few people in all of history can claim to be equal to Paul in his faith and devotion. Paul is an example for us of the transforming power of God’s love. Showing us that God can forgive all our sins and then use us to spread Christ’s love to others. No sin is unforgiveable and no one is beyond redemption. Few may be Paul’s equal, but there have been countless others, who have demonstrated for us the power of God which can change us from living for ourselves, to living for others.
The Spirit of the Lord, working within each of us, not only changes us, it helps us find peace in the midst of chaos and in a world where so much is wrong. When we are able to view the world through the eyes of love, we not only see what we can do to spread God’s love to others, we see the beauty of God’s creation. God’s love changes our perspective and offers us hope.
Let us pray.
Loving Christ, help us we pray to see the world through your eyes, loving all whom God has created. Fill us with your life-giving spirit that we might answer your call to love God and one another. We offer our prayers this day in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.