Alleluia, Christ is risen!  He is risen indeed!  Alleluia!  Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  Amen.  Good morning!  Good morning!  Greetings!  Howdy!  Hello.  ¡Hola!  Hi!  Top of the morning to you!  How ya doing?  How d’ya feel?  What’s up?  How’s it going?  There are many ways to greet people.  But what do you say to a dead man—er, at least someone who was formerly dead?

In today’s Gospel reading, the resurrected Jesus greets Mary Magdalene and the other Mary on the road as they hasten to tell the other disciples what the angels told them.  After being back from the dead, you might think Jesus would have something more astounding to say.  Yet rather than saying something earth-shattering, the Lord simply greets the women with a typical, ordinary, everyday greeting.  “Greetings!” is how our English Bible translates it (Matt. 28:9, ESV).[1]  In Aramaic, he would have said “Shalom!”—Peace be with you!  In English, he might have said simply, “Hello.”

Jesus is ever practical and down to earth when it comes to resurrection.  From our point of view, “resurrection… is entirely unnatural,” as one pastor writes.[2]  Rising from the dead isn’t something that just happens like the sudden blooming of tulips and daffodils in the early springtime.  You don’t just plant a body in the ground like a seed, water it, and wait for it to grow!  “The only place springtime happens in a cemetery is on the graves, not in them.”[3]

Or is that how it works?  After all, Jesus predicted his own resurrection in precisely those terms, when he told the Palm Sunday crowds: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit” (John 12:24).  In fact, Jesus had predicted his own death and resurrection at least three times before the events of Good Friday and Easter.  For example: “See, we are going up to Jerusalem. And the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn him to death and deliver him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified, and he will be raised on the third day” (Matt. 20:18-19).  Jesus laid it all out for his disciples.  He practically handed them his playbook.  But when it came to game time, they forgot everything and didn’t have a clue.

But Jesus followed the plan.  On Thursday night he was betrayed and arrested.  On Friday afternoon, he died on the cross for our sins.  On Sunday morning, he rose again from the dead.  As the angel told the women, “He is not here, for he has risen—as he said” (Matt. 28:6).  So after Jesus rose from the dead and met the women on the road, he says simply, “Hello.”  (“Oh, hi, ladies!”)

What do you say to a dead man who is no longer dead and says, “Hello,” to you?  I posted that question on Facebook earlier this week.  The best answer was “How’s life treating you?”  [Pause for laughter.]  But seriously, what did the women say?  Did they automatically reply, “Hello, Jesus”?  Could they say anything at all?  Matthew doesn’t tell us.  In John’s Gospel, Mary Magdalene converses with the angels and with Jesus, although she doesn’t recognize him because she is blinded by tears.  But in Matthew’s Gospel, the women don’t say anything—at least not yet.  In Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus and the angel do all the talking.

And what do they say?  They tell the women to “go… and tell” everyone the miracle that took place.  Go and tell.  Just that.

“Come,” the angel said, “see the place where he lay.  Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead…” (Matt. 28:6-7).

“Do not be afraid,” Jesus said.  “Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me” (Matt. 28:10).

“Do not be afraid; go and tell…” (v. 10).  That is the message of Easter.  Alleluia!  Christ is risen!  He is risen indeed!  Alleluia!

So what did the women do?  The went to tell.  “They departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples” (v. 8).  Go and tell.

Alleluia!  Christ is risen!  He is risen indeed!  Alleluia!  That is the traditional Easter acclamation.  That’s what we say to each other—to our fellow believers—here in Church on Easter.  We have heard the Gospel writer’s words about Jesus’ resurrection.  In a few moments, we will confess in the Creed, “On the third day he rose again from the dead…”  But what will we do after that?  What will we say on Monday morning—and the rest of the week, month, and year?

It is time for us to go and tell, just as Jesus and the angel told the women to do.  Go and tell everyone you know that Jesus is alive!  Go and tell your friends and family that there is hope for tomorrow because God forgives sins today.  Go and tell everything that God has done for you (cp. Luke 8:29).  Because our world is dying, dying, dead—destined for the grave and damned to hell.  There is only one hope for this world: Jesus Christ.  There is hope for today and tomorrow only because Jesus died for our sin and rose again to give us eternal life.  That is the message that the entire world needs to hear.  And so Jesus tells us, “Go and tell…”

The Good News of Jesus’ death and resurrection is too good to keep to ourselves.  Go and tell!  What would happen if you were to greet everyone you meet today with the Easter acclamation: “Alleluia!  Christ is risen!”  Some people may respond with the proper answer.  Others may look puzzled.  Some might even get angry.  But no one could say that you left them out.  And that simple statement, “Christ is risen,” might lead to a deeper conversation.  You might even save their souls.

And what about the rest of the week?  Did you know that Easter is a whole season, not just one day?  The Church celebrates Easter for seven weeks because it’s too wonderful to confine to one day.  What if that became our standard greeting for the next seven weeks: Alleluia!  Christ is risen.  Not “hi,” “howdy,” or “hello.”  Not “hey, you!”  Just the good, old-fashioned Gospel: Alleluia!  Christ is risen!  He is risen indeed.  Alleluia!  What a difference those words can make.  They made a world of difference to Mary Magdalene and the other Mary when they heard “He is not here, for he has risen, as he said” (Matt. 28:6a).  It makes a world of difference for you and me.  And it makes everything different for the whole world.

Someday Christ will come again.  He will raise our bodies from the dead and reunite them with our souls.  Even the unbelievers will rise on the Last Day.  We will see Jesus face-to-face and hear his voice when he calls our names.  “Greetings!”  “Hello!”  “Howdy!”  What will we say and do in response?  What will our loved ones say and do?  Will we cower in fear and beg for the rocks to cover us again?  Or will we fall on our knees in fear and joy to worship the King of kings and Lord of lords?  The difference on the Last Day will be determined solely by what we believe on this day and the day we die.  Not everyone believes what you believe.  So go and tell.  You have something they need to hear.  Alleluia!  Christ is risen!  He is risen indeed.  Alleluia!  In the name of Jesus.  Amen.

[1] All Scripture references, unless otherwise indicated, are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version.

[2] Barbara Brown Taylor, “The Unnatural Truth,” in Home by Another Way (Lanham, MD: Cowley Publications, 1999), 110.

[3] Ibid.