EASTER Sunday: To Galilee & Beyond!
I love to watch movies. I can watch all kinds of movies. I love action, comedies, dramas, romantic comedies, and animation. I even like a little suspense – but I don’t really like war and scary films. I really love to just sit down with friends and watch a movie. There’s a lot of films I like. I have a bunch of favorites. I like Elf, and the Holiday. I like Back to the Future and About a Boy. I like a bunch of films. Sometimes our friends joke about how many movies we have – that we have our own little rental store.
I like the stories in films. I like to watch, and be caught up in the life of the story.
What are some of your favorite films? Since there are kids in here of all ages - what are some of your favorite movies? What stories do you enjoy?
There’s something about stories, isn’t there. We can come back to the same movies over and over again – there’s something about the story. I like to be engaged, and caught up in the story; wrapped up in the dialogue and the movement of the characters.
I probably like it best when I can connect with one of the characters. Good or bad, I don’t know, I often get caught quoting lines from films. You know, it probably started with Wayne’s World or Encino Many. A friend of mine just a few weeks back, commented that quoting lines from films just might be the identifier of our generation.
Sometimes random quotes just pop into my mind. Do you ever have that happen? It happened to me this week as I read through the day’s Gospel Text. It was a random line, but I think it applies.
Today we come to the part in the story of Jesus’ where he had been brutally killed, humiliated, and he had died and been buried. But today, this morning, as the women went to the tomb, they found the stone, this big – giant rock, had rolled back and Jesus was not there.
Afraid! Astonished! The women stand there. And before them, rather than a dead lifeless body – stands an angel of the Lord.
Yeah – they’d be a little freaked out. Even with all the Old Testament prophecies and Jesus’ own words, the reality of the day would be pretty amazing!
Jesus, tortured, spit-upon, pierced, bled and died. In the midst of Fridays desperation and separation – today, Easter Sunday, we join the angels singing praises to the Risen One – as Jesus Christ is raised from the dead.
It’s a beautiful, life changing, inviting story. But it is a story that is not done at the Resurrection. Yes, we celebrate the Resurrection. We celebrate the resurrections power in our lives – from being set free from addictions and illness. But the story of Jesus Christ, his power and his resurrected life is not over with Matthew 28:10.
I believe, and I hope you do too, His story lives on today. His story is still being told, still grafting life and characters in it. I believe as we hear the story of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, we must continue on and read through the end of the book.
The two Mary’s, the Scripture tells us, are freaking out. They run to tell the disciples what they just saw and experienced. And on their way – Suddenly Jesus met them. They’re still kind of shaken by the whole situation right? So, Jesus in his calming voice tells them “Do not be afraid; Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”
So, obviously the story is not done right? There’s gotta be something in Galilee. Something has to happen in Galilee. As I read this passage, I can’t help but wonder – Why Galilee? What is it about Galilee?
If we look back throughout the Scripture, lots of things happen in Galilee don’t they. We notice Jesus spent most of his public ministry there. He spoke their language and probably shared their country lifestyle. He knew the customs, dialect and people. He was at home in Galilee. Perhaps if Jesus could be comfortable anywhere, he could be comfortable in Galilee. But beyond Jesus’ comfort, because let’s be honest, he’s going to be comfortable anywhere on this side of the crucifixion – I believe he speaks of Galilee, he is really looking out for his friends, and their comfort.
There’s something about stories. Even coming back to the same ones over and over again – there’s something about the story. I like to be engaged, caught up in the story; wrapped up in the dialogue and the movement of the characters.
So, let’s continue on in this story of Christ’s Resurrection. Let’s look at this ending of the resurrection story as the second bookend in a set. “Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God”. That’s the first bookend. And then, at the end of his story, the heavenly messenger tells the frightened women at the tomb, “He is not here, he is risen! Come and see the place where he laid. But now, Go quickly and tell disciples that He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.” So, that’s like the second book end.
But still... why Galilee?
Well maybe he is saying, “Now that you’ve read the story, go back and read it again... but this time, do so with resurrection eyes. When Jesus goes off to pray, consider the resurrection. When Jesus touches a blind man and makes him see, envision the resurrection. When Jesus takes a child into his arms and speaks of accepting the kingdom of heaven with a childlike spirit, view it from the perspective of the resurrection. When Jesus feeds thousands, heals lepers, brings the dead back to life, see it all, sense it all, feel it all from the perspective of having experienced the resurrection.”
Perhaps this part of the story of God is simply a bookend on a shelf. It’s not the end. The bookend is not the end of the shelf. There’s still room! There’s still room to fill that shelf. Perhaps this extension to Galilee is just like that.
So what is it about Galilee?
Perhaps Jesus was looking out for his friends. Maybe Galilee was exactly where Jesus wanted his disciples to be, to reflect, and to remember. Perhaps he knew that in Galilee everything would come back. Rather than focusing on the cross, perhaps they could revisit all those wonderful times they walked along the lakeside, ate meals, fed thousands. Perhaps they could revisit all they had experienced with Jesus, in the familiar spaces of their homes. Perhaps in Galilee the last few years would make better sense to them.
Now, they are confused, grief-stricken, without hope. But Galilee would bring a sense of recognition. Jesus will be waiting for them there, and in his presence Galilee will bring understanding. Galilee will offer new life.
We need to know what happens in Galilee, so we can’t stop here. It’s like we need a sequel. We need to know what’s next, how does it play out. I remember watching the Passion and thinking the way they ended it left room for a sequel: The Resurrected Life of Christ. So, we have to go on. We have to go to Galilee. We have to continue reading this story within the larger context.
So let’s do that. And as we do, we’ll find the disciples, perhaps eager or weary or uncertain of what was awaiting them – journey back home. Once in Galilee the disciples meet up with Jesus and he says to them: (in verse 18) ““All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
I like stories. I like to read them and watch them. And I probably like it best when I can connect with one of the characters. When I can relate to what they’re going through.
Thinking about movies - If I could paraphrase the post Resurrection story in the voice of a Disney Character, the catch phrase would be: To Galilee and beyond!
“To Galilee and Beyond!” We have to go to Galilee, but we have to go beyond!
For us, I believe what going to Galilee represents – is our need and ability to look back upon our lives. We have to look back upon our history, looking with resurrection eyes, at the way God has been present and involved. We have to look back upon our experiences to remember how God held our hand during the hard times, how he empowered us in our moments of weakness, and how he guided us upon the unmarked roads.
I believe what we’re being called to do is, “as we look at our life story, to go back and see it with resurrection eyes. When your son goes to Kindergarten, consider the resurrection. When your daughter goes off to college, consider the resurrection. When Jesus touched you when you were sick, envision the resurrection. When you held that newborn baby, look at that tiny new life within the perspective of the resurrection. When you were hungry and you were fed, when you were sick and healed, when you were lonely and comforted, see it all, sense it all, feel it all from the perspective of having experienced the resurrection.”
This is how we are to see our lives. We are to see God’s hand of resurrection, his hand of restoration, his hand of life giving love resting and participating on us.
But Jesus reminds here in this Matthew text that we cannot get stuck in Galilee. Galilee is not the final destination. We must be willing to look forward. We must journey beyond. The power and presence of God in our lives in the past is something to remember and empower us. It is not something to Idolize. We must go “to Galilee and Beyond!”
The Resurrection is not something for us to put in a little box and set on a shelf. It’s not a trophy. You know, in our own lives and even in the life of our church, we must not allow the past stories of God’s actions to cripple us from participating in his life now; in what he wants to continue to do. We must not let our past experiences become so exciting or all consuming that they hinder us from stepping into the next chapter.
The Resurrection really isn’t something we celebrate only once a year – on Easter Sunday. The resurrection is for everyday. Christ’s Death and Resurrection are for Sundays for sure, but they’re also for the Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays! Our Lord calls us to step out – each day – with a new perspective; a perspective of life within the Resurrection.
You see, the bookends are really just space holders. On my shelves, I use bookends when I don’t have enough books to fill the shelf. The bookends are for when I don’t have enough stories to fill the space between the walls of the case. The beauty of the bookend is that it moves to accept the next book. It scoots over, and over and over as new stories are added.
I believe with all my heart that God wants to be engaged in our lives – and he wants to help us widen the shelf. He wants us to keep adding stories of his goodness to our lives. He wants to invest his resurrection in us that we may have story after story after story of his redeeming presence.
I believe God wants to be engaged in our lives – that we may have story after story after story of his redeeming presence, to share with others! His Great Commission is a commission of action. The first two words are probably the most powerful. He says: THEREFORE GO. Therefore GO. We are to go. We are to go and share the good news of his resurrected life in us. We are to share the things that have happened.
We all have something don’t we. We all have ways that God has stepped in and loved, supported, and carried us through. It’s these stories of transformation that we are to go and share with the world.
We live in LA – the world is here! The world is right here. There are thousands of people within walking distance of where we sit. Thousands of people. The world is right here. Christ compels us to meet him in Galilee (in our home town) and reflect upon his ongoing presence in our lives – and then to Go.
Go. Get up – take your mat, and walk! The resurrected Christ doesn’t want us waiting around in the city, bemoaning the death or the loss, or the failures. Christ is RISEN. Christ is living, Christ is still speaking. Christ is still engaging our lives – he still wants to form and shape resurrection stories in your life!
Hear Christ calling out to you. Hear his voice as he says “To Galilee and Beyond!” Allow the story of the Risen Lord – to wash over your life. Allow the reality of the Resurrected One to transform your lenses – and step out of the past and into God’s saving, grace filled, loving story. Step into the story that is still relevant, still being told, still being shaped, and still inviting you to participate!
This is a beautiful, life changing, inviting story. Are you a part of it? Have you changed your perspective? Has the Resurrection of Christ impacted who you are? Have you changed your affiliation, your association – from that of the empire to God’s Upside Down Kingdom? Have you allowed Jesus to give you new eyes – to look at life through the loving lens of the Resurrection?
If not - Would you like to be a part of this story? The resurrection is a beautiful, life changing, inviting story. Jesus stands with you as he invites you this morning into this loving, life giving, and transforming story?
Christ compels us to meet him in Galilee (in our home town) and reflect upon his ongoing presence in our lives – and then to Go. Go. Get up – take your mat, and walk! Hear Christ calling out to you. Hear his voice as he says “To Galilee and Beyond!” Allow the story of the Risen Lord – to wash over your life. Allow the reality of the Resurrected One to transform your lenses – and step out of the past and into God’s saving—grace filled—loving story. Step into the story that is still relevant, still being told, still being shaped, and still inviting you to participate!
Let’s all go “to Galilee and Beyond!”
As you go, live within the ongoing story of Christ’