The Resurrection of Our Lord
Grace, Mercy and Peace to you from God our Father and His only Son, Our Risen Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, Amen.
Kidnapping – “The crime of unlawfully seizing and carrying away a person by force or fraud, or seizing and detaining a person against his or her will with an intent to carry that person away at a later time.”
Kidnapping with the intent for ransom is more rare than simple abduction. Most of such ransom threats end with the capture of the criminal(s) and/or the death of the victim. One notable case of kidnapping dates back to 1758 where Mary Jemison was captured by Seneca warriors after the massacre of her family. She was 12 years old at the time. She was adopted into the tribe and lived the remainder of her life with them.
In the ransom cases, an amount of money is demanded in order to release the abductee. It is usually a price so great that those paying the ransom are not able to afford it. The largest ransom paid to date was for Victor Li, sone of billionaire Li Shing. The price was $135 million.
If you ask any parent or loved one what they would give for the safe return of their child or cherished family member, they would probably say, ‘Everything I have’ They may even offer to exchange themselves in order to free the loved one.
As God’s people, a precious treasure to our Creator, we were kidnapped by a wicked and evil foe. Our abduction began in the Garden of Eden where Satan, by deceit and fraud, seized the souls of Adam and Eve, placing them in the captivity of sin. Those chains of sin have remained on all of humankind for millennia.
Through the ages God would rescue His people literally from the grasp and slavery of those who chose evil and death over life and good. Through Moses, God brought the people of Israel out of the captivity of Egypt. He drowned the enemy in the waters of the Red Sea. Afterwards, God gave His people the Law so that they may be Holy as He is Holy.
Yet even with the Law to guide us, we fell back into our old ways. Just as the generations after Noah returned to wickedness after the cleansing of the world through the flood, the people chose to follow the deceiver instead of returning to the Father of us all.
Our captor, the Devil, has no desire to release us from the prison of sin and death. His will is to keep us from our true home. While in his grasp, the price of our freedom grew ever higher. Satan did not want return God’s people and continued to seize more and more.
Finally, God determined that He would, once and for all, redeem the lost. He would give everything to bring His children home. To do this, He had to exchange the life of His one and only Son for the lives of the prisoners of sin and death.
Jesus Christ descended from his heavenly kingdom. He humbled himself to become a man of flesh and blood. Born of a virgin woman by the power of the Holy Spirit, Jesus lived as one of us; truly man. Yet unlike us, he was also truly God.
As God, Jesus Christ lived without sin. He fulfilled the Law of our Father perfectly and completely. As man, Jesus Christ suffered, was crucified, died and was buried. His life was given over to death so that death would no longer have power over us. This was the great ransom that was paid for all.
As God, Jesus Christ rose from the grave, the ultimate prison, and broke the chains of sin and death. He is risen! Alleluia! We know this to be true because witnesses of his resurrection have given us this Good News. Hear now the Gospel of Our Lord:
‘But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb. And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher).’ [John 20:11–16]
Before our Lord and Savior redeemed us, we wept in fear and despair. We could not free ourselves from our sin. We could not save ourselves from death. But now we know Our Redeemer Lives! Now our tears are not of misery but of joy! Just as the people of Israel sang and rejoiced in their deliverance from their captors, we now sing and give praise to our rescuer, Jesus Christ. He truly is our Salvation.
The Good News of our salvation continues:
‘Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ ” Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”—and that he had said these things to her.’ [John 20:17-18]
The command of the verb ‘cling to’ is an ongoing action. Jesus is telling Mary ‘stop clinging to me’ But can you blame her? Would not any one of us, in joy and astonishment, cling to the loved one we thought were dead? Wouldn’t you hug and hold tight the child or loved one you had lost or worse, believed to be dead, and now appears to you alive and whole?
No, this was not a brief embrace, it was a long and intense clasp of her Lord. This is our Savior too! We too must grab our Lord and cling to him. Not just for a little while, but forever.
Because of Jesus’ completion of God’s rescue mission, we can cling to and continue to cling to him; and this time, Jesus will not say ‘stop clinging to me’ instead he holds us in his hand and says, ‘I will never let you go. I give you eternal life and no one will snatch you from My hand.’ [John 10:28]
Brothers and sisters in Christ, we now have the reason to continuously give thanks and praise to the Lord our God.
“I will sing to the Lord,
For He has triumphed gloriously!
The Lord is my strength and song,
And He has become my salvation;
He is my God, and I will praise Him; [Exodus 15:1a, 2a]
“Your right hand, O Lord, has become glorious in power;
Your right hand, O Lord, has dashed the enemy in pieces.
And in the greatness of Your excellence
You have overthrown those who rose against You; [Exodus 15:6-7a]
“Who is like You, O Lord, among the mighty?
Who is like You, glorious in holiness,
Fearful in praises, doing wonders? [Exodus 15:11]
“This is the day the Lord has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it.” [Psalm 118:24] He has risen! He has risen indeed! Alleluia! We have been redeemed by our God. No greater joy exists for us than to be saved from our prison of sin and death. No greater joy has the Lord than to have His children safe in His eternal home.
Amen and Amen!