What makes that picture bring tears to your eyes? What makes that song bring a smile to your face? Or, on the flipside, what makes that voice to you like fingernails on a chalkboard? One thing — memories. Memories change all your experiences; they fill your life with emotion. Now, the big thing is — what are you remembering? Because what you remember will change your life, for good or bad.
We see that in our Easter reading from Luke 24:1-12. Grab your Bible and read that (and if you don’t have a Bible, contact me at church and I’ll get you one (770) 385-7691). The text starts out with some women remembering what they’d been through the last few days — watching the injustice, torture, and crucifixion of their friend and teacher, the one they had pinned their hopes on — Jesus. What they remembered was pain and loss and hopelessness.
So they went to that tomb with arms full of spices and hearts full of disappointment. Do you remember that feeling? Really, it still happens today whenever you remember all the challenges and see all the obstacles, but fail to remember who your God is. Have you had that feeling at the funeral of the loved one you depended on? Have you had that feeling when the bills stack up higher than the income? Have you had that feeling when friends fail and family judges and you don’t get your way? All you can remember, all you can see is the pain, the injustice, the hopelessness, the death.
You need to hear what those women heard. You need to remember what changes all that. There in the text: When the women got to the tomb — it was not what they had remembered. The stone blocking their access was gone. The death that had been hovering had vanished. The darkness now was light — two angels as bright as lightning broke their darkness, not just with their appearance — but with their words.
They said: "Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; He has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’" Just remember what he said. He didn’t lose. That failure you thought you felt was victory. When you get confused about what is going on, just remember.
Remember what Jesus had said at Lazarus’ about-to-be-empty grave: "I am the resurrection and the life." That’s who he is. Remember what he said in that upper room just four days earlier, telling them that they wouldn’t see him for a bit and then would see him, and then he said: "Because I live, you also will live." Remember?!
They came expecting death because they didn’t remember. They came, remember, with arms full of spices and hearts full of disappointment? But they left with hearts and lives exploding with Easter joy and real hope. What made the difference? They remembered. They remembered what had happened and put it in the perspective of what he said. So just remember. That’s what makes the difference for you, too. Remember what has happened. Remember what he said. And remember what that means.
Remembering the resurrection changes things. It changes what life is about. It changes what we are here for. Life is now about more than distractions biding time until death.
So open your Bible and be reminded of what it is all about. Come to church and Bible Study and let’s remember the one who defeated our sins of forgetting, of being so caught up in life that all we can remember is our problems.
When your heart is broken, remember God’s; when your body is weak, remember his strength; when you are standing at the graveside, remember his victory.
Remember Easter! Remember what he has done. Remember what you have coming (John 14). Remember that all things are working for your eternal good (Romans 8). Remember that nothing can separate you from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus (Romans 8). Remember Easter! Christ is Risen! He is risen indeed. And that makes all the difference.
The Rev. Jonathan Scharf is pastor of Abiding Grace Lutheran Church in Covington. Full sermons and more information can be found at www.abidinggrace.com.