The End that Wasn't

In Awe of Grace

Easter Sunday, Year A

You will see him, that’s the message of Easter. You will see him, the living one, the alive one, him. And in that seeing, you’ll be able to breathe deeply again. Happy Easter.

John 20:1-18, New International Reader's Version (NIRV, emphasis added)

The Tomb Is Empty

20Early on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb. It was still dark. She saw that the stone had been moved away from the entrance. 2So she ran to Simon Peter and another disciple, the one Jesus loved. She said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb! We don’t know where they have put him!”

3So Peter and the other disciple started out for the tomb. 4Both of them were running. The other disciple ran faster than Peter. He reached the tomb first. 5He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there. But he did not go in. 6Then Simon Peter came along behind him. He went straight into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there. 7He also saw the funeral cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head. The cloth was still lying in its place. It was separate from the linen. 8The disciple who had reached the tomb first also went inside. He saw and believed. 9They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead. 10Then the disciples went back to where they were staying.

Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene

11But Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she cried, she bent over to look into the tomb. 12She saw two angels dressed in white. They were seated where Jesus’ body had been. One of them was where Jesus’ head had been laid. The other sat where his feet had been placed.

13They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”

“They have taken my Lord away,” she said. “I don’t know where they have put him.” 14Then she turned around and saw Jesus standing there. But she didn’t realize that it was Jesus.

15He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who are you looking for?”

She thought he was the gardener. So she said, “Sir, did you carry him away? Tell me where you put him. Then I will go and get him.”

16Jesus said to her, “Mary.”

She turned toward him. Then she cried out in the Aramaic language, “Rabboni!” Rabboni means Teacher.

17Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me. I have not yet ascended to the Father. Instead, go to those who believe in me. Tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ ”

18Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news. She said, “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.

Children’s Message

Have two people (you can be one of them) run toward the altar area in “slow motion” fashion where the children are seated. (I can remember watching The Six Million Dollar Man TV series where Lee Majors ran in slow motion to represent a faster speed.) Play a movie soundtrack that has running music, such as Chariots of Fire by Vangelis. Have an empty plastic Easter egg and a cloth to represent the linen found in the tomb.

Have fun with the “run.” Make sure one of the runners arrives up front first. Act as if you are out of breath. Take a moment and then describe why the two “ran” in. Ask the children if they have heard the news. Talk about how the disciples went to the tomb and expected to find the body of Jesus, but instead they found the cloths. The cloths were folded up nice and neat. The disciples were surprised. They shouldn’t have been if they had been listening to what Jesus had told them when he said that he had to die and then three days later God would raise him again.

This surprise feeling may be a little like this empty egg. All of you probably have had many plastic eggs filled with candy already this morning. But what if you opened the egg and saw that it was empty? That would be a surprise. It wouldn’t be what you expected. Really, this empty egg reminds us of the real meaning of Easter and why we celebrate. This empty egg is like the empty tomb. The tomb was empty because Jesus was alive!

Here’s how you can help remember Easter. For each Easter egg that you open, take the candy out, enjoy it, and then look at the empty plastic egg for three seconds:1, 2, 3. During those three seconds, say either out loud or to yourself, “Jesus is alive.” Say one word for each second. Take another egg, eat the candy, look at the egg, 1, 2, 3, “Jesus is alive.”

On the third day. the tomb of Jesus didn’t contain death. Out of the tomb came life! Jesus was alive! Jesus told the truth. Hallelujah!

What happened next in the Easter story? Did they just stay there and keep this news of life to themselves? No, they went out and told everyone they saw. They were excited to share this news. After our prayer, as you return to your place, take three seconds to stop and tell someone that Jesus is alive!


We praise you, Jesus, for surprising those at the empty tomb and us by defeating death just as you said you would. We thank you for bringing forgiveness and eternal life to all of us. Remind each of us to take three seconds (1, 2,3 . . . ”Jesus is alive!”) to tell those around us why we are so excited this Easter. Amen.

Parents, we all know that in today's world of hectic family schedules, moments spent together are few and far between. One of the last remaining opportunities for "family conversation" is in the car ride going from one daily event to another. Download, print, and hang this Holy Week rear view mirror hanger in your vehicle. Take those moments in traffic to continue the conversation on the events around the daily devotions and discuss these questions with your family.

DOWNLOAD Holy Week mirror hanger (PDF)

In This Series...

Easter Sunday, Year A - Lectionary Planning Notes