A Cycle – Easter 20
Mt. 25: 1-10
The Passover meal begins with the youngest asking the ancient question; “…what makes this night different from all others?” It was no coincidence God established their freedom by the blood of the sacrificial lamb placed on the wooden lintels of their homes. On this night in Christianity it would be the blood of the one true sacrificial lamb on the wood of the cross that set us all free. To understand why Jesus had to die is difficult to grasp much less understand. Sin demands a penalty must be paid and for us the penalty to be paid was determined when there were only two humans on earth with the triune God in paradise. Adam and Eve made in the image of God were made to be immortal and were made without sin. Created to be the beginning of all humanity to enjoy life in the presence of God for all time.
We know sin entered the world because Adam and Eve were tempted to believe God had withheld something good from them. Adam and Eve were invited to reflect on why God would deny them the fruit of that one tree. That question, posed to them by the evil one, motivated them to take a good look at the fruit and were told it held for them the key to experience things beyond the wonders they were already experiencing with God. That one sin, doubting God, is still the bane of all of us today, sin looks good to us; it is enticing because we are offered something which will enhance our experience of life.
But the cross invites us to not look at their moment of sin but to look at ours. It invites us not to see anything but absolute victory of God over all sin for all time. Today we are invited to answer that ancient question; what makes this empty tomb a key to understanding why the blood she on the cross makes everything different for us. To understand the cross and the empty tomb, we must understand how God prepared the Israelites, and later ourselves for the sacrifice of one lamb, without blemish, would be the atonement for all the sins of all time (Lev. 16:21). I invite you to read the account of how on the Feast of the Atonement described in that passage has one unblemished lamb carrying away the sins of all.
If you understand how God established long ago the fact one lamb would take upon itself all the sins of all of us, then you begin to understand the entire concept of the Lamb of God. Every Jew who heard John point to Jesus and declare him the Lamb of God understood exactly what that meant. They had a visual in their heads from every Feast of the Atonement. They knew what it meant but the real question is did they understand Jesus was the Lamb of God.
After all he was a man not a lamb. Yet they had to question what John was saying to them, they had to connect the blood of the Passover sacrifice, the sacrificial lamb on the Feast of the Atonement and the blood of Jesus shed on the cross. But why did God do it this way? God could have sent down angels blowing trumpets, talked in a booming voice from heaven, done miraculous things to help them understand. He could forgive our sins by a word.
Jesus did by a word forgive sins and still they did not believe. Jesus raised a dead man, cleansed lepers, gave sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, healed cripples, cast out demons, changed water into wine and yet they still crucified him. What makes this night like all others indeed? We know why.
Yet we know and affirm sin must be punished. The issue for us is what does it mean Jesus took upon himself the penalty of our sin? We so easily proclaim Jesus is our savior and redeemer without ever appropriating for ourselves the grace of salvation. The empty tomb makes us think about all that happened and what our response to it is. It comes down to our response and the empty tomb brought out how confusing the entire plan of God is to believe and accept.
God desires us to choose to believe even in the face of things that confuse us and challenge how much we believe. I invite you to reflect on the response of Mary of Magdala and the other Mary in tonight’s gospel. They were frightened, bewildered, seized with fear and at the same time they were overjoyed. You will see the empty tomb instead of solidifying their faith created more confusion. Why the Cross and now why the empty tomb?
We will see in the coming weeks Jesus appearing to the disciples. We will see how they believe but still do not understand what any of it means. More revelation is necessary for them and for us and there in lies the answer to the question of why. God is guiding them and us to a point of understanding the plan of restoration of us as sons and daughters of God, living in the Kingdom of God on earth.
That understanding is ours as it was theirs if we simply obey his guidance. He tells them to go to Galilee where it all began for them. That first encounter three years ago will now be the catalyst compelling them to allow Him to complete within them the plan of God to change how we live our faith. There is another outpouring of God’s grace to complete the transformation of each of them and us into holy men and women whose hearts burn with the love of god. That first call to follow is now a statement to wait until the promise of God comes upon them.
That is the missing piece to become as disciples and witnesses. We will be given understanding, doubt will be removed, fear will be replaced with boldness and we will be given eyes to see what God’s plan has always been, to daily be intimate with us.
Jesus is the way the truth and the life and he offers us another fruit to help us attain what Adam and Eve wished to attain, to be like God. The fruit we will be given will give us hearts that long for Christ and we will be transformed into sons and daughters. Why is this night like no other? This night we shed our sinful selves and change them for robes that have been washed in the blood of the Lamb.