Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter - March 31, 2013 - Luke 24:1-12

If you believe that a dead man was raised from the grave, then you are crazy.  You can try to square it with reason any way you like, but it will never make any sense.  You would have to be delirious to believe in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.  You will find plenty of people who will tell you that in our age, whether best-selling authors like Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, or two-bit internet commenters who troll around looking to rain on the parade of faith.

But where you probably don’t expect to hear such a negative reaction to the Easter proclamation is in the Bible itself, right there on Easter morning.  And it doesn’t come from the Pharisees, the Scribes, or the Romans.

The women go to the tomb.  They find it empty.  There are two men there, presumably angels, who tell them that Jesus is risen.  The women run to tell the disciples.  No doubt they burst through the door and cried out, “Christ is Risen!”  And instead of the familiar refrain, “He is risen indeed!  Alleluia” the disciples reply, “What are you talking about?  Are you nuts?”

Now you might think that I’m taking liberties with what is written there in the gospel text.  Here’s what it says in the NRSV translation, “But these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them.”  The word that gets translated “idle tale” is the Greek word from which we get our word, “delirious.”  Which is to say, “Crazy.”  The disciples heard the good news of the resurrection of their Lord and they thought it was crazy.

So is it?  Is it crazy to think that Jesus died, was buried, and then was raised from the dead?  I stand before you today to tell you that it is.  The heart of the Christian faith, the resurrection, goes against all reason.  It is crazy.  It is no use to pretend otherwise.

Now I realize that this might grate on the ears of some.  Perhaps it’s inappropriate to speak like this?  Well then, I will call the Apostle Paul to my defense, who said in his First Letter to the Corinthians, “For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, God decided, through the foolishness of our proclamation, to save those who believe.  For Jews demand signs and Greeks desire wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are the called,...... Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.”

So the Apostle Paul agrees that what we proclaim here this morning is foolishness.  It is crazy.

But you know what’s really crazy?  It’s crazy that a man would walk out on his wife and his children.  But it happens.  It’s crazy that a hospital will charge a family $19,000 dollars to transport a sick man and that the insurance company will turn around and tell the wife that it won’t cover any of the cost, because that particular helicopter wasn’t in their plan; I guess she was supposed to check helicopter companies before her husband was rushed to the hospital. 

It’s crazy that people kill innocents to make a political point.  It’s crazy that people starve on the street.  We’re absolutely out of our minds to spend so much money as a country that our grandchildren will never be able to pay it back.  We’re off our rockers when we lose patience with our kids when we’re the ones from whom they have learned almost everything they know. 

This world is full of craziness.  It is full past our necks with craziness.  And God saw that and said, “I can do better.  I will send my son.  And he will be a beautiful and wonderful man who heals the sick and cares for everyone, and who speaks the truth.  And so wicked men will get ticked off and put him to death, thereby furthering his mission.  And then I’ll complete it by raising him from the dead.”

But here’s the kicker.  God does all of this to save the very people who put his son to death.  Crazy.

And so we gather together this morning to celebrate the lengths to which God will go to save us.  It doesn’t make a bit of sense that God would do this for us.  Not after all that we have done and continue to do.  But God is crazy.   Crazy for you.  Amen.

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