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John 20:1-18

 “Jesus Has Risen for You”

I want to start with something funny. I heard about three Catholic ladies: They boasted about their sons. One lady said, “My son is a priest. When he walks into the room and talks to people, they call him, ‘Father.’” The other lady said, “My son is a bishop. When he walks into a room and talks to people, they say, ‘Your Grace.’” The third lady said, “My son is a broadcaster, six feet three inches tall, is incredibly good looking, and dresses impressively. When he walks into a room and talks to people, all the ladies say, ‘Oh my God!’”

What would you like to boast about? Is it that you have wonderful children? Is it that you have lots of property? Is it that you have received a higher education? The Apostle Paul says, “May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world” (Galatians 6:14). If you would like to boast about anything, boast about the Lord. I don’t think we have anything to boast about rather than what Jesus did for us. Jesus died; Jesus rose from the dead; Jesus will come again because of us; because he loves us so much.

Today, I want to talk about “Jesus, our Lord has risen for you!” Jesus has risen! Jesus is resurrected! Praise the Lord! Hallelujah! The story of Jesus’ resurrection is not a fantasy novel. It is a historic truth. It is not only in Israelite history but also our history. If you believe that Jesus is resurrected for you, you may see God’s miraculous work in your life. In other words, when you believe that Jesus has risen for you, you may have the experience of being born again. The Apostle Paul reminds us that in Christ, we have already died, drowned in baptism. Yet, we who have died are raised to newness of life by the grace of God (Romans 6:3-11).

I want to share my story. As I mentioned before, I grew up in a patriarchal family of Confucian religion. While female family members had very limited rights, they had too many responsibilities. I have experienced women’s difficulties directly and indirectly through my mother. When my mother delivered me, a baby girl, my grandfather didn’t allow the delivery room to be heated even though it was winter. My mother and I had to endure a very cold room. During my childhood, I was prohibited from singing and painting. When I was a teen, they didn’t allow me to go to high school because I was a girl.

My mother used to always obey my grandparents. But, when she faced an issue regarding her children’s education, she began to go against my grandparents. My father struggled between my mother and his parents and then started drinking. There were arguments, fighting, and a broken relationship among family members. Finally, my parents decided to leave my grandparents’ house for the benefit of their children’s education. After my family left my grandparents, we struggled financially because my grandparents didn’t help support us any longer. My parents lived in a room with five children for about ten years. My father, who has lived in the rich house of my grandparents, struggled and became an alcoholic. My siblings and I spent our teens in shame of being poor and of our drunken father. However, my mother was strong and worked hard to survive and keep the family together. Eventually, my mother got sick, and she couldn’t find a way to cure her stomach illness for a long.

One day, one of my neighbors brought my mother to a prayer house on the mountaintop to heal my mother’s illness. She said to my mother, “God may heal you. Let’s go and pray to God for your healing.” My mother prayed there, fasting for three days, and remembered that she was baptized by an American missionary and attended a church when she was a child. She repented and prayed that she would bring all of our family to the church. She was healed and began attending church with her young children. However, it upset my grandparents, my father struggled being in the middle of my grandfather and my mother, and he drank more. We tried to bring my father to the church. However, the more we tried to bring my father to the church, the more my father drank and made mistakes. The people in town called us the drinker’s children. We realized that we had to pray for my father. It was like a fight in spirit as the Apostle Paul says, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12).

We prayed for my father every morning. His drinking lessened. Finally, he was baptized on Easter morning in 1993. It was a moment our whole family was born again. We cried with gratitude and joy. My father strongly suggested my grandfather remove the Confucian Temple and change our patriarchal family customs. And then, not much later, my grandparents became Christians. Later on, my father said to me, “I believe that Jesus died for me and rose for me, and he still loves me. When you become a pastor, I will work for the church as a custodian for the rest of my life.”

Hope for transformation is not far from you. As long as you don’t give it up, God will hear your prayers and make things happen. Even though you feel your prayers are not heard by God yet, don’t give it up. Your Easter morning comes soon because God is still working for you. When you believe that Jesus’ resurrection is for you, you may taste the joy of resurrection in your life.

In today’s scripture, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb of Jesus early on the first day of the week. The first day of the week means “Sunday,” and it means that three days later, after Jesus died. We can’t find why Mary Magdalene went to the tomb of Jesus in the early morning, in today’s scripture, but we may find the reason in the other Gospel Books, such as Mark and Luke. They went to the tomb to anoint Jesus’ body with spices, the Israelite’s custom. She found Jesus was not there, cried as if she had lost Jesus’ body, and told the disciples. They came and looked at his empty tomb but just returned home. At that time, no one remembered what Jesus talked about during his resurrection. Mary Magdalene didn’t return home and cried. Angels asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?” Mary said, “They have taken my Lord away, and I don’t know where they have put him.” And then, Jesus was present in front of her.

My dear family in Jesus Christ! If you think your situation hasn’t change yet, even if you have been praying for it, please consider what it would be like if you lost Jesus from the center of your life. Please look for the Living Jesus, not the dead body of Jesus, and invite him to your heart and the center of your lives. As Jesus died for you, he has risen for you. Jesus Christ is our Lord, and your Lord, and my Lord. Our collective confession of Jesus our Savior is important, but our individual confession is also more important. The Lord died and rose for each of us. Let us say to each other, “Jesus has risen for you.” You can do everything in Jesus Christ, who empowers you because he has risen for you. Thanks be to God. Amen!