Easter Sunday: "I Am Returning to My Father"

Scripture: John 20:1-18

Service Notes

Call to Worship

What ended in darkness on Good Friday begins in light on Easter morning with the Easter shout of praise: "Christ the Lord is risen. He is risen indeed. Glory and honor and dominion and power be to our God for ever and ever! Christ is risen! Alleluia!"

Sermon Notes

The focus of the story is Mary Magdalene. Following a brief introduction into her character, I spoke of her as simply another person in a long line of people throughout history who have been taken in by charismatic leaders—some military, some religious, some political—only to have their hopes and dreams shattered by failure and the death of their leader. Mary, like so many before and since her, has seen her Savior put on trial and killed for what he has done. She seemingly stays with him even in death because she has nowhere else to go. She has invested everything in Jesus.

Upon discovering the empty tomb, she does not dare to look inside but goes to find Peter and John. They come running, find the tomb empty, and leave, a bit baffled by the whole affair. Mary, however, remains and finally gathers the courage to look inside the tomb to see for herself. Through her tears, she sees two men sitting in the tomb. Still unaware of what has happened, she begins to ask them if they know where the body of Jesus has been taken. But the conversation is interrupted by a man standing behind her.

Assuming he must be the groundskeeper, she questions him. His one-word response changes her forever. It is true that the Good Shepherd calls his sheep by name, and when she hears her name called, she falls at the feet of her Lord and Master. No more sorrow. No more broken dreams. No more despair. She is filled with astonishment and delight and joy and fear all at the same time. She has heard her name called by the Son of God.

Jesus tells her, "I am returning to my Father." His task is now complete in this place. He is the bread of life. He is the way, the truth, and the life. He is the resurrection and the life. He is the light of the world. He is the true vine that connects us to the Father. He is the King of heaven and earth. And now he is returning to his Father.


Gerald L. Zandstra is a pastor at Hillside Community Church, Cutlerville, Michigan.


Reformed Worship 42 © December 1996 Worship Ministries of the Christian Reformed Church. Used by permission.