We’re picking up in the middle of a Question and Answer session, highlighting the key points of Toomsuba Presbyterian Church’s 2010 Easter sermon. Toomsuba (PCUSA), an hour and a half east of Jackson, is a member of the Presbytery of Mississippi. Responses are from Toomsuba’s Rev. Lane Townsend.
Q: You make much of the fact that the first person to whom the Christ appeared was the woman Mary Magdalene. Why is this so noteworthy?
A: “In our day and time, we emphasize equal rights. At this time, it was controversial for a man to even talk to a woman in public. Some of the rabbis would pray, ‘God, I thank you that I was not born a dog or a woman.’ A made-up story would not have had Christ first appearing to a woman, not even an upstanding woman. Mary had had seven demons cast out of her. She had a tremendous devotion and love for the Lord, though she didn’t have any social standing.”
Q: When Jesus later appears to the Eleven, he showed them the scars in his hands, side, and feet. Why is this detail also so noteworthy?
A: “People sometimes wonder why the scars were still there. In his resurrected body, which could walk through walls, surely he could’ve been free from those scars. It’s been said the only thing in heaven made by Man are the scars in Jesus’ hands—an eternal reminder of his great work on the cross. When Christ welcomes us into heaven, we’re going to see those scars, marks of love and grace.”
Q: Getting to the practical level, what does Easter, the resurrection of Christ, have to do with us today, in 2010?
A: The worst problem we have today is the fact that we’re going to die. We’ve explored space, the ocean, etc…, but we can’t solve the problem of death. God told Adam and Eve the moment they ate the forbidden fruit, they would die. When they sinned, they became susceptible to sickness and death. Death was not part of God’s original plan. It came because of sin.
Q: So you have qualms about calling death a “natural part of life”?
A: Death is an unnatural part of life. As Paul said, “The sting of death is sin.”
Q: So death takes on a new meaning for the Christian, due to the Christ’s resurrection?
A: “Christ conquered the power of sin. He took all our sin, all our guilt on himself. He conquered death, hell, and the grave. You don’t die for the punishment of your sins. It’s a discipline you face, but the sting is gone. For the Christian, death is the gateway to glory. It’s been said there are no graves on the hillside of glory.”
Q: What else would you say to the person, trying to understand what the message of Christ’s resurrection has to do with them personally?
A: The disciples gave their lives for Christ’s testimony. They were all martyred, except for John who was boiled in oil and exiled to
Patmos. We have the power of Christ’s resurrection life now, not just in the hereafter. What kind of power did it take to conquer sin and rise from the dead? Whatever problem you have today, you have that same power available. Come drink at that fountain. It’s available right now. It’s yours.
Q: Any closing thoughts?
A: How has the resurrection of Christ changed your life?
For more information about Toomsuba Presbyterian Church, or the Presbytery of Mississippi (which oversees churches in the central and southern part of the state, beginning in
Jackson), visit www.presbyteryofms.org.