Easter Vigil Sermon from Matthew’s Gospel.
After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was
dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went
to see the tomb. And suddenly there was a great
earthquake; for an angel of the Lord, descending
from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and
sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his
clothing white as snow. For fear of him the guards
shook and became like dead men. But the angel
said to the women, “Do not be afraid; I know that
you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is
not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come,
see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell
his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead,
and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee;
there you will see him.’ This is my message for
you.” So they left the tomb quickly with fear and
great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly
Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they
came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshiped
him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go
and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will
All four of the gospel writers, Matthew,
Mark, Luke and John, tell Jesus’
resurrection story just a little differently.
Each one tells the story in their own way.
It’s like if you and I experience something
and then share our story of the experience,
more than likely, your story will vary
In Matthew’s story, an angel appears at
Jesus’ empty tomb, and four people react.
Two react in paralyzing fear. They were
the soldiers guarding Jesus’ tomb. You’d
think they would be strong; but the story
isn’t complimentary to them. They
became so afraid that they fell over as if
Yet, the two women responded to the
appearance of the angel with hope. Mary
Magdalene and Mary, the Mother of Jesus
were hopeful because they knew Jesus,
they trusted him, they believed in him,
they witnessed his love and forgiveness,
his healing miracles and his embrace of
all who would come to him.
Their hope in Jesus made them strong.
Their hope couldn’t be paralyzed by fear.
Their willingness to hear the angel and
receive the unexpected, outlandish
message that “He is not here, for he has
been raised,” triumphed over their fear,
giving them joy in their hearts. And, it
was in joy they encountered the risen
This evening we will be renewing our
own baptismal covenant. It’s important
for us to remember that we are followers
of Jesus Christ. We are people called to
be today’s witnesses of Jesus’ miraculous
resurrection and his ongoing presence
Like the two women long ago, you and I
are people of hope, empowered because
we know Jesus; we trust him; we believe
in him; we witness his love, forgiveness
and healing, and his embrace of all who
would come to him.
We know that Jesus lives and that God’s
love flows through him into us and
through us to help change the world for
God. We don’t have to be paralyzed by
fear. We can stand with Blessed Mary
and Mary Magdalene, staring into the face
of the unknown while trusting in crucified
yet undying love.
The story of Jesus’ resurrection is
powerful. It does us well to remember it.
It does the world well for us to live it and
Alleluia! Christ is Risen! The Lord is
Risen Indeed! Alleluia!