Wonder.

by jacobjuncker

This message was offered at Wesley United Methodist Church (Culver, IN) on Easter Sunday, March 31, 2013.

READINGS: Luke 24:1-12

Let’s pray.

Gracious God, in the moments to come, give me the words to speak and they the ears to hear, that together we might learn and be inspired to live your Word in the world starting today.  Amen.

˚˜˚˜˚˜˚˜˚˜˚˜˚

Have you ever had a crazy thought? something that you saw or noticed that made you scratch your head?  I don’t know about you, but I often stand in wonder.  Consider[1]

  • Why does your nose run and your feet smell?
  • Why is the man who invests all your money called a broker?
  • Why isn’t phonetic spelled the way it sounds?
  • If ‘pro’ is the opposite of ‘con,’ is Congress the opposite of progress?
  • Why do we call it a hamburger when it is made of beef?
  • Why are there interstate highways in Hawaii?
  • If Wal-Mart is lowering prices daily, how come nothing in the store is free yet?
  • If air travel is so safe, why do they call it a “terminal”?
  • If the #2 pencil is the most popular, why is it still #2?
  • Before the light bulb was invented, what appeared over people’s heads when they had an idea?

I wonder…and I wonder if you do too?

Do you look at the world around you with curiosity? are you filled with admiration, amazement, or awe?  Do you find yourself surprised or in doubt over an unexpected sight or outcome?[2]

Do you wonder?

It was early in the morning when, according to Luke, Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and a few other women went to the tomb.  They met at Mary the mother of James’ house.  She lived on the edge of town.  As the women gathered, it was evident that none of them had slept.  The Messiah—the one they had hoped would redeem the world and usher in a new realm of peace had been betrayed by one of their friends, brutally beaten, wrongfully charged and executed.  How could you sleep after witnessing—even from a distance—such a horrific sight?  After all had gathered, they headed quietly to the tomb.  There was nothing to say, just a job to do.

As they topped the hill, not far from the tomb, they noticed that the birds had stopped singing.  It was as if something had happened up ahead.  The women huddled closely together as they walked.  They were carrying a lot of oil and spices.  They’d be an easy target for robbers.  They lowered their heads and quickened their pace.  When they arrived at the tomb, they discovered why the birds had stopped singing: the giant stone that had been placed in front of the tomb to seal the door had been moved.  The tomb was open.

As the women looked in they began to cry.  Jesus’ body was gone.  “They didn’t know what to make of this.”[3]  Had robbers stolen the body?  Did Pilate or the chief priests order their guards to desiccate Jesus’ tomb?

4-8 They were puzzled, wondering what to make of this. Then, out of nowhere it seemed, two men, light cascading over them, stood there. The women were awestruck and bowed down in worship. The men said, “Why are you looking for the Living One in a cemetery? He is not here, but raised up. Remember how he told you when you were still back in Galilee that he had to be handed over to sinners, be killed on a cross, and in three days rise up?” Then they remembered Jesus’ words.

9-11 They left the tomb and broke the news of all this to the Eleven and the rest. Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them kept telling these things to the apostles, but the apostles didn’t believe a word of it, thought they were making it all up.

12 But Peter jumped to his feet and ran to the tomb. He stooped to look in and saw a few grave clothes, that’s all. He walked away puzzled, shaking his head.[4]

Peter Θαυμάδζων (thau-măd-zōn).

This Greek word is translated several different ways.  In the King James Version, New International Version, and Common English Bible translations of Luke 24:12, Peter “returned home, wondering what had happened.”[5]  In the New Revised Standard Version, Peter is “amazed.”[6]  The English Standard Version says that “he went home marveling at what had happened.”[7]

Luke, the Gospel writer, uses the word—Θαυμάδζω—some 11 times in his gospel.[8]  The word means “to be extraordinarily impressed or disturbed by something.”[9]  Depending upon its context the word is translated as surprised, marvel, amazed, questioning, puzzled…wonder.

After the women reported what they had seen and what the two strangers in dazzling clothes had reported, Peter leapt up, and ran to the tomb.  He looked in and he was…surprised, puzzled, questioning, marveling, doubting.  When Peter looked in and only saw the linen cloth his mind began to reel: all he could do was wonder.  And that, to me, seems like an appropriate response.

Wonder.

As we look into the tomb on this Easter morning, I invite you to wonder like Peter.  The tomb is empty.  Christ has been raised.

Stand in wonder.  Allow yourself to soak it all in.  That which was dead is now alive.

Death has been swallowed up in victory.
Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?[10]

Stand in wonder and know that “nothing can separate us from God’s love…not death or life, not angels or rulers, not present things or future things, not powers or height or depth, or any other thing that is created.”[11]  Not past mistakes nor guilt, not attitudes, circumstances, disappointment, or insecurity; not arrogance, confusion, addiction or indifference: nothing can separate us from the love of God found in Jesus Christ.

Stand in wonder: and boldly proclaim, “Christ the Lord is risen today!”

Amen.


[1] Items from this list are quoted from “151 Things You Know You Wonder About” at theKruser.com <http://thekruser.com/2010/02/04/151-things-you-know-you-wonder-about/> Accessed March 29, 2013.

[2] wonder. Dictionary.com. The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Houghton Mifflin Company. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/wonder (accessed: March 30, 2013).

[3] Luke 24:4a, Common English Bible.  The New International Version and the King James Version also interpret Peter as “wondering.”

[4] Luke 24:4-12, The Message.

[5] Luke 24:12b, Common English Bible.

[6] Luke 24:12b, New Revised Standard Version.

[7] Luke 24:12b, English Standard Version.

[8] According to A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and other Early Christian Literature, Third Ed. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000) the word appears in the following places Luke 1:21, 1:63,2:33, 7:9, 8:25, 9:43, 11:14, 11:38, 20:26, 24:12, 24:41.

[9] A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and other Early Christian Literature, Third Ed. Revised and edited by Frederick William Danker (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 444.

[10] 1 Corinthians 15:54b-55, New Revised Standard Version.

[11] Romans 8:38-39, Common English Bible.

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