Every year we preachers eagerly look for help with the daunting challenge of preparing an Easter sermon. Never are we as acutely aware of our own limitations, intellectual and spiritual, as when we try to find words to express the reality that a dead man didn’t remain dead.
A book I often pull from the shelf is Frederick Buechner’s The Magnificent Defeat, a collection of his early sermons that includes an Easter one titled “The End Is Life.” In it Buechner describes the men who came to Pontius Pilate on Saturday, the day after Jesus was crucified, asking Pilate to provide guards for the tomb to make certain no one steals the body. They are the same religious and political leaders who convinced Pilate that it was in his best interests to do away with Jesus. Now they’re back asking Pilate to secure the tomb. There is impatience and irritation in Pilate’s response: “You go, make it as secure as you can.”