If only, if only ten years ago you would have bought just a little bit. Heck, if just a year ago, I had only bought a little bit. When the car company Tesla first went public ten years ago, you could buy a share for 17 bucks. And today? Well, it’s gone up a bit. How much?
Let’s say you spent around 200 bucks on Tesla stock ten years ago. Today you’d have around 7500 bucks. In other words, you’d have enough money for well…a down payment on a Tesla. Now, if you’d spent around 2,000 ten years ago, you’d have enough money to actually buy one, maybe even have some change afterwards! Not bad huh.
And forget Tesla, look at Zoom. Just two years ago, if you’d bought $200 bucks of that stock, you’d be sitting on 2 grand. But of course, all that talking is coulda, woulda, shoulda right? Unless of course you did buy Tesla or Zoom stock back then, and if you did, then we’ll be happy to have your Easter gift this year! Thank you very much.
Now why am I talking about stock prices on Easter? Is this Easter service sponsored by CNBC? No, it just reminds you that in life, timing matters. Timing matters a lot. What’s the difference between being a hall of fame hitter in baseball and striking out like all the time? Folks have measured it. It’s about 4 tenths of a second. But forget baseball or stocks. Timing matters way more than that. Think about timing when it comes to your kids or your relationships, when it comes to your health or your habits. Timing matters.
It’s why the Greeks realized that time means more than what you got on your watch, what they called Chronos time. They knew. Chronos time doesn’t matter that much most of the time. But the other time they called Kairos. And Kairos time matters a lot. You see. You don’t check your watch for Kairos time. You check your gut. Kairos means that moment of opportunity. It’s that timing a great hitter has when a ball gets pitched. That’s Kairos time. Kairos time is when you look at someone you love, and you know it’s time to hold them close. And you know that not because you checked your watch. No, it’s because you checked your heart.
So, you can miss what time it is on your watches. But if you’ve lost touch with what time it is in your body or in your relationships or in your life, that’s a problem. During this pandemic, losing touch with that time could kill you. If you didn’t know it was “wear-a-mask time, then the next mask you could be wearing was the oxygen one.
And on this day, on Easter, like no other day, God gives you the time, not the Chronos time. God gives you the Kairos time. And when you know that time, it changes everything. It changes how you see the world. It changes how you see the news. It changes how you see others. It changes how you see yourself. And how do you know that time? Here God shows you the way. Let’s listen and hear what God has to say.
If you don’t know what time it is, what time it is in your life, in your relationships, in this world, you miss so much of what matters. You miss all the wonder, all the possibility, all the hope that this world holds. And today, like no other day, God tells you what time it truly is.
And let’s make it clear. God in this story of the empty tomb, isn’t just giving you some inspirational story about how love triumphs over death. God is telling you something profoundly, objectively, irrefutably true. God is giving you news, the best news ever.
Why do you think Paul makes a point of telling you about these witnesses, over 500 of them? Paul is saying. I’m not giving you a fable. I’m giving you a fact. This ain’t fake news. It’s the real deal. Look at how Paul writes. “I handed on to you, as of first importance, what I in turn had received.” He is saying. I have personally researched this. I have spoken to these witnesses, heard their stories with my own ears.
That’s why Christians have that weird little call and response on Easter. Christ is risen. And folks respond. Christ is risen indeed! Don’t you see what we’re saying? We’re proclaiming. “Christ is risen in fact.” This actually happened, and it has changed everything.
And deep inside, you know you yearn for this change. You can tell yourself death is natural, simply the way of the world. But why do human beings spend countless amounts of money trying to stop it from happening? During this past year, our whole nation, our whole world has rallied to stop this virus. And why? We know this isn’t the way it’s supposed to be. So many have fought, even risked their own lives to stop the death of others, even the oldest and most vulnerable among us. Why? We know this isn’t the way it’s supposed to be. When we hear of the loss of half a million in our nation, and millions more around the world, we sense. Something has gone horribly wrong. And why? Because something has. We know. This isn’t the way it’s supposed to be.
And if that’s true, if something has gone horribly wrong, it can be made right. The world can return to what God intended the world to be, a world where death doesn’t have the last word. No, Instead, God’s love does.
And when Jesus rises again, that’s what God is doing. God is starting the restoration of everything. In that empty tomb, God is overturning the old order of things. God is changing it forever. And once that revolution has begun, nothing stops it, not even death.
Heck, Jesus was doing that even before Easter Sunday began. Think about it. What was Jesus doing on that Saturday before Sunday. Was he just laying around the tomb, checking the time? Is it Sunday yet? I did tell them three days. No, Jesus was doing prison ministry.
In the letter that his disciple, Peter wrote to the churches, he tells us. Jesus was making a proclamation to the spirits in prison. And what prison does Peter mean? He is talking about the prison house of death. Jesus was doing a massive jailbreak. Lots of ancient churches have pictures of it, even, like this one.
On Saturday, Jesus went down to Hell, to Hades, the place of the dead, whatever terms you wanna use. And Jesus said. Hand me the keys. Death, those keys belong to me not you. And I’m using those keys not to hold people in. I’m using those keys to let them out. I have defeated and destroyed death forever. You see, that’s what going on in that picture. Jesus is bringing out the prisoners, doing the biggest jailbreak in the universe, the one that overturns death itself.
And by the way, you might wonder. How do we even know? Well, since Peter tells it, we know. Jesus must have told him. One day, after the resurrection, Peter must have asked. What were you doing in that tomb before Sunday? And Jesus told him. I was breaking everyone out.
That’s what God means when Paul talks about the first fruits. God is saying. On Easter, I began a revolution, and Jesus is just the beginning. And I will not stop until every broken place is healed, every lost person found, every evil overthrown, until even death is no more. And when you know that, when you know that not even death can defy God’s love for you, God’s love for this world, then you know that with God, with that love, everything becomes possible.
It has taken me so long, but I think I might actually get it done this year. You see, back in the 50s, a novelist named Shelby Foot began writing a history of the Civil War. Before he finished, 20 years later he had written almost, 3 volumes, 3,000 pages, 1.2 million words. I started reading it decades ago, but I couldn’t make it through. I stopped in Volume 3. But now I’m back, now almost to page 700. So, I think it’s going to happen.
I gotta tell you. The history is riveting. You don’t know which side will win this particular battle; who will get the upper hand. But of course, if you didn’t know the end of the story, you’d find it terrifying. But you do know. In the end, the good guys win. Our nation defeats the defenders of a great evil. We finally overthrow a system that had enslaved people for centuries. And yet just reading about it wears me out.
It makes me wonder. How did the citizens who actually won that war make it through? More crucially, how did the millions of enslaved people, enslaved generation after generation make it through? How did great leaders like Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman not lose hope when they fought year after year to stop this evil? They knew. Even when things looked darkest, they knew. They knew what time it was. They knew. This great evil would not stand. It would fall. As the Battle Hymn of the Republic sings it;
He has sounded forth
the trumpet that shall never call retreat
He is sifting out the hearts of men before His judgment-seat
Oh, be swift, my soul to answer, oh be jubilant, my feet
His truth is marching on.
And for that same reason, Jesus is still moving forward, to make that truth real, to bring justice where there is injustice, to bring healing where there is sickness and death, to bring love where there is hate, to bring hope where hope has died. And Jesus shall never call retreat until all is made right.
And Jesus is calling you and I to be right there with him, sharing the love, fighting for the justice, and like Paul proclaims. We can be steadfast. We can be immovable. We can excel in the work of the Lord. We can know our labor is not in vain. Why? We know what time it is.
It’s not the world is coming to an end time. No, it’s God is winning the victory time. It’s not no change is coming time. It is God is changing everything time. It’s not injustice has the upper hand time. It’s justice is rolling down like mighty waters time. It’s not death has the last word time. It’s where O death is your sting time. It is not despair time. It’s hope time. It is not fear time. It is going forth in faith time. It’s not death time. No, what time is it? It’s resurrection time.
In resurrection time, you can stand steadfast no matter what you face. After all, you know what time it is. It isn’t Jesus is dead and gone time. It’s Jesus is alive and on the move time. It isn’t stop and cower time. It’s get up and go boldly time. It’s not fear has the last word time. It’s love has the last word time. It’s not despair time. It’s hope time. It’s not death time. What time is it? It’s resurrection time. The empty tomb proclaims the time. It’s resurrection time. It’s God has the victory time. And nothing, not even death itself, can change that.