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The Stone Was Rolled Away

Theme: The resurrection of Christ - Easter Sunday
Object: A large trunk
Scripture: 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. Matthew 28:1-6 (NIV)

As you can see, I have a great big trunk with me this morning. How many of you would like to see what is inside? Okay, gather around and I will unlock the trunk and open it so that you can see what is inside. Well, how about that! The trunk is empty!

When I was a child, we would sometimes have special assembly programs at school. One of my favorites was when a magician would come and put on a show. As you may know, a magician always has an assistant who helps him perform his tricks. One of my favorite tricks was when the magician would put his assistant into a trunk like this one. Then he would lock the trunk and tie ropes around it. As we watched with great anticipation, he would tap the trunk with his wand, untie the ropes, unlock and open the lid. To our amazement, when he opened the trunk, it was empty.

On the Sunday morning after Jesus was crucified, two women named Mary went to visit the tomb where Jesus had been buried. When they arrived, there was a great earthquake and an angel came and rolled away the huge stone that had been covering the entrance to Jesus' tomb. The angel sat on the stone and said to the two 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." You see, the stone was not rolled away so that Jesus could get out of the grave, it was rolled away so that his followers could go in and see that the tomb was empty.

I always knew that the magician making his assistant disappear from the trunk was just a trick, but the empty tomb of Jesus was not a trick. Jesus had risen, just as he said he would! Today we celebrate the fact that the stone was rolled away, not so Jesus could come out, but so that we could see that he has risen from the grave, and because of his victory over death, we can enter into eternal life with him.

Heavenly Father, we are thankful that the stone has been rolled away and because the grave is empty, we can enter into eternal life with you. In Jesus' name we pray, amen.

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An alternate sermon based on John 20:1-18: "The Case of the Empty Tomb"
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