Telling The Same Old Story – A Sermon On Matthew 28:1-10 For Easter Sunday

 Alleluia. Christ is risen.

That’s what I said to you last Easter, the one before that, and the one before that. It’s what I’ve said to you for the last eighteen Easters. Every year it’s the same. It never changes. And I got nothing new to say to you today. 

Every year we come to Easter and tell the same old story. We’ve been repeating ourselves for two thousand years. It’s sort of what I imagine a Uvalde High School class reunion is like. We know how the story ends as soon as it begins. We’ve heard it all before. 

And that just may be the best thing I can say to you today. It means that you can count on the Easter story. It’s trustworthy and here to stay. Regardless of who you are, what has and has not happened in your life, what you’ve done and left undone, or what you do and do not believe, the story is true for you today. 

I used to come to Easter wanting to say something profound, novel, and earthshaking. Sometimes my ego gets the better part of me and I still want to do that, but the longer I live the more I just want to say and hear the same old thing: “He is not here; for he has been raised.” 

I want to be reminded that Easter is still true and still happening. I want to hear the same old story one more time. And it’s not because I think the story has changed since last year. It’s because my world and life have changed over the last year. It’s because I have changed over the last year. And some years are harder than others. You know that too. 

So with every intention of repeating myself let me tell you the Easter story.

It happened “as the first day of the week was dawning.” Light was pushing back the darkness. Warmth was returning. A new day was beginning. If you’ve ever needed light and warmth to return to your life, if you’ve ever needed a second chance and the possibilities a new day offers, this story is for you. Alleluia. Christ is risen.

“Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb.” They were there when Jesus died and was laid in the tomb. If you’ve ever had your heart broken by loss and laid someone or something you loved in the tomb, this story is for you. Alleluia. Christ is risen.

 “Suddenly there was a great earthquake” and “an angel of the Lord rolled back the stone” from the tomb and said, “Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised.” If you’ve ever needed some earthshaking good news, if you’ve ever needed hope, if you’ve ever lived as if death had the final word, this story is for you. Alleluia. Christ is risen.

“He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him,” is the angel’s message for the women. Galilee is where Jesus and the disciples are from. It’s their home. If you’ve ever struggled to find Jesus, if you’ve wondered where he is, if you’ve ever thought that Easter is an “eggstravaganza” and has nothing to do with your ordinary everyday life, this story is for you. Alleluia. Christ is risen.

So let me ask you a question. Why did the angel roll back the stone from the tomb? I know that sort of sounds like a “Why did the chicken cross the road?” kind of question. So let me give you a hint. It was not so that Jesus could get out. 

In Mark, Luke, and John the stone has already been removed when the women arrive. But in Matthew the stone is not rolled back until after the women arrive. What’s that about? What’s Matthew telling us?

The women saw Jesus die, they saw him placed in the tomb, and they saw “a great stone” rolled to the door of the tomb. In today’s gospel (Matthew 28:1-10) they find the tomb exactly as they saw it on Good Friday. Nothing has changed. Nothing has happened. If that’s sometimes how life looks to you, if you feel stuck, if you’ve ever wondered whether God is doing anything in your life, this story is for you. Alleluia. Christ is risen.

The reason the angel rolled back the stone isn’t so Jesus could get out but so the women could see in, so they could see he had been raised and is not there. And that means resurrection was already happening behind the “great stone” of their life. It means new life is always and already taking place even when we don’t see it,, don’t expect it, or don’t think it can. Alleluia. Christ is risen.

And that’s why today we fill the church with alleluias, lilies, hymns, icons, shiny brass, candles, white vestments, a flowered cross, and unreserved beauty. They do not set this place and day apart from all other places and days. Instead, they point to and reveal that resurrection is always and already happening in all other places and days. This is not the day of resurrection. It is another day of resurrection. Alleluia. Christ is risen.

That’s our story. And it’s worth repeating. So let me tell it to you one or a few more times again. 

Alleluia. Christ is risen. 

Alleluia. You and I are risen. 

Alleluia. We are risen.

Image Credit: Fresco of the “white angel” and the myrrh-bearers at Jesus’ grave, c. 1235 AD., Mileševa Monastery in Serbia by Snežana Trifunović – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons.


  1. Wow! This was so thought provoking and I would love to use the same idea next Sunday. So true. But telling the story like that strikes a chord in the life we each have today. Alleluia Christ is risen

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love your sermon because it tells the truth. I need to hear it again.
    I did a children’s sermon today. In one egg, a small rock.
    Me: “The rock reminds us of the rock at Jesus tomb on the 1st Easter. What happened?”
    Child 1: “It was rolled away.” Correct.
    The next egg holds a tiny piece of white cloth. Me: “What was the white cloth for?”
    Child 2: “Jesus was wearing it when they put him in the tomb. ” Correct.
    Me: “Now, the cloth was left behind. But where is Jesus? Where did Jesus go?”
    Child 3: Shrug. ‘I guess he went to town.’
    (My Mouth fell open.) Me: “What? I didn’t quite catch that. Where did Jesus go?”
    Child 3: Shrug. “I guess he went to town to pick something up.”
    Me: “That’s what most people would do, I guess. But, Jesus did something new. He rose from the dead.” (Children’s message continued.)
    I’m still smiling.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. So, so good! You made it so simple, clear and hopeful. We all have times when we feel stuck and you bring hope to those times. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

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