Details! The Message of Easter is in the Details

Years ago, I saw a poster of Albert Einstein with a quote that supposedly came from him. einstein-god-s-thoughts_u-L-E6QFU0Honestly, I have no idea if he actually said it or not but it stuck with me. The poster had an enormous picture of Einstein and beside him, it said, “I want to know the thoughts of God, the rest are details.”

I’ve always thought that was a curious comment – no matter who said it. I mean at first glance – that looks like a really deep thought – but – on close inspection, it falls apart. I say that because, in order to understand anything at all, you must look at the details.

For instance, for a scientist to understand how a mechanism works, they have to know the details. For instance, in order to know how to split an atom, a scientist would need to know the details of how a proton, neutron, and electron work together. In order to understand why a person did what they did, you must examine the details of their life or the details of the circumstances.

I’ve always been a fan of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes. A number of years ago I read a short biography on Doyle. The biography related a story of how Doyle – a detail – of how Doyle came to create such a character. As you may know, Doyle trained asdoyle a physician. During his training, one of his professors asked his students to examine a cadaver. He asked them to tell him what the dead man had done for a living.

Doyle related that they all were mystified as to how they could tell that from the man’s body. They really didn’t have a clue. Ultimately, the professor took the dead man’s hand – turned it over and showed them the man’s calloused hands. He then pointed out that the callouses were consistent with that of a brick mason.

Doyle’s professor went on to tell them that as physicians it is important to be a student of the details. The details will reveal the full story. The answer – the explanation – to a lot of questions are found within the details. That experience planted the seed in Doyle’s mind for Sherlock Holmes and truthfully it ought to plant a seed in our minds as well.

It is in the details that we can know – at least as much as it is possible for us to know – in the details we can know the thoughts of God. In fact, God speaks in the details and there is no better day to explore that than Easter – and no better place to see how God speaks in the details than in the account of Christ’s resurrection.

For instance, look at Mark 16:1-8 for a moment and let’s see how God speaks in the details. There is a detail within this text that reveals something powerful about how God thinks and what He’s doing in the world through Jesus. In fact, Mark 16:1-8 provides an incredible detail about the resurrection and the way God extends grace.

Here is what Mark 16:1-7 says, “[1] When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. [2] And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. [3] And they were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?” [4] And looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back—it was very large. [5] And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed. [6] And he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. [7] But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.”  

Now – think back over Mark 16:1-8 and think about the people that showed up at the tomb that first Easter morning. Look. Who is the first to the tomb on Easter morning?

Verse one tells us that Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Salome went to the tomb. Do you realize that in all four Gospels – women are the first to the tomb? That’s a huge detail.

In the days of Christ, in the first century, women were not seen as equal. I know today that we still have a long way to go when it comes to equality – equal work for equal pay – but things are better now than they were in the first century – and I hope they continue to get better for all – and that’s part of the detail here.

In Christ’s day, women were not as respected as they should have been. Men in the synagogue were often heard praying – aloud – “God thank you that I am not a woman.” That’s not something to be proud of.

Yet, here on the morning of the resurrection, on the very first Easter, a group of women were the first to arrive at the Empty Tomb. And not only that – but they become the first evangelists! God uses them to highlight the message of the empty tomb – a message that is still being shared today.

womenThese ladies are the first to arrive. They are the first to discover that Jesus has risen. They are the first to hear the good news. They are to become the first evangelists in that they are told to go his disciples – and Peter – that Jesus has risen from the dead.

The angel at the tomb said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. [7] But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.”

And therein lies an incredibly important detail – a detail that shows us the thoughts of God as it applies to grace. Not only do we have a group of women who show up at the tomb first, not only are they told to go and tell his disciples, but they are told specifically to go and tell Peter.

Friends, that is one of the most important details in the whole account of Jesus’ resurrection. Within that detail – within the “And Peter” we have an earth shattering message. Remember Peter’s betrayal of Christ?

Easter morning was preceded by Good Friday and Maundy Thursday. Remember the events of that evening? I’m sure Peter did. In the Upper Room Peter is warned that he would deny Jesus three times before sunrise. Peter vehemently argued. He even said, “even though all the other disciples deny you – abandon you – I will die first.”

peter denialHe didn’t. He didn’t die first. He didn’t stand up. Peter turned his back on Jesus. When push came to shove – Peter broke ranks with Jesus. He denied knowing him. The very last thing he thought he would ever do – he did. He blew it. When it counted, he failed.

Friends, all of us have done that. Every person on the planet has broken ranks with God – turned our backs on Jesus – on God. And Peter did it at one of the worst possible times. He’s famous for it.

And God could have written Peter off. Jesus could have been done with him – finished – done-zo. But look at this detail in our text. Within this detail we see the way God’s grace works. The first group of people who come to the tomb are given an express message – go tell Peter that the tomb is empty; go tell the guy who turned his back on Jesus that the tomb is empty; go tell the person who has blown it with God that God’s grace is extended to Him.

This message to Peter tell is a detail that tells us that God’s grace doesn’t sit around waiting on a person to come to it. This detail tells us – once again – that God’s grace is on the move. Within this detail we have the message of how God’s grace reaches out – it doesn’t sit and wait on you or me to get our act together in order to come to Christ – no – God’s grace reaches out from the empty tomb and searches for us. It doesn’t wait for us to come it – grace reaches out to us. God’s grace doesn’t sit around – tied to one spot – waiting on Peter to return.

One of the most important details of the empty tomb is that God’s grace goes out into the world. Go tell Peter that Christ has risen – just as He said – because in that message – the grace of God to save us from all our sin has been made possible.

According to the Bible, we are all prone to blow it. We are all failures in some regard. We are all sinners – justly deserving God’s wrath and displeasure – BUT – here at the empty tomb we learn that God’s love for us – God’s grace for us – doesn’t sit around petulant – waiting on us to get it together enough to come to Him – no – the detail here is quite plan regarding God’s thoughts. The message of grace emerges from the tomb and reaches out to those who are estranged from God and restores them.

Each Sunday we are reminded that we can have peace with God through Jesus. It is because of the empty tomb that is true. Christ bore our sin on the cross, but he conquered sin and death and hell through the resurrection. So that even Peter – who denied the Lord Jesus, is brought into grace. But that message didn’t wait on Peter to show up and fix himself up and get himself right. The message of grace went out from the tomb and it still goes out even at this very moment. The message of Easter is found within the detail. You want to know the thoughts of God? Take a look at the way God’s grace extended to him on Easter. That same grace continues to be extended to you and to me at this very moment.

My hope and prayer this Easter morning is that we will get lost in the detail of God’s grace and love made possible through all that Christ has done and in His resurrection. Details – details – details – are so very important. Details tells us the very thoughts of God. God doesn’t wait for us. He extends His grace. Grace doesn’t wait on us. Grace comes to us. 

I hope this Easter morning you realize that God’s grace is still extending from the empty tomb to you.

Peace of the Lord to you.

peter and john running

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