Sermon for the Resurrection of our Lord. With a tip of the hat to the great master, Saint John Chrysostom.
He is Risen! (He is Risen Indeed!) Alleluia, Alleluia.
This is the feast of victory for our God, for the lamb that was slain has begun his reign. Alleluia, Alleluia.
Today the invitation is issued to all who love the Lord God: Come and rejoice! This past week we gathered to hear of the suffering and death of our lord. Today we gather to hear the joyous news of the resurrection. For everything there is a season and time for every purpose under heaven. If Lent is a time to mourn and weep, then this is a time to laugh and sing. Today, the Lord puts joy and gladness in our hearts.
Today is one of those days where you put sorrow aside, you no longer sit in sackcloth and ashes, you need no longer meditate on your sin, and the death that follows sin. Today, forgiveness is yours. Life is yours. And not even death can dim the joy of this day.
Death itself is destroyed.
It wasn’t only Jesus death that was undone on this day. It was death itself. Death is undone. When Jesus was crucified, he took all sins – even your sins – with him to that cross. When he died, those sins died with him. Death could not hold him because he was without sin. Instead of decaying in the tomb, he rose again on the third day. And when he rose again, he showed the way you will go.
How is it that Jesus leads in the way you will go? We expect God to be alive. God being raised is one thing. Sinners being raised is quite another. But You see, your sin was placed on him when he went to the cross, and so when he died your sin died with him. That means that death can no longer hold you either. Jesus death took away your sin, and so his death has destroyed the power of death once and for all. There is no recovery for death. It is dead.
And with Death destroyed, Satan, hell and all the powers of darkness are cast down, they are overthrown. Jesus resurrection is not just a one person sort of thing. It has eternal consequences for all.
For the women at the tomb, it didn’t really seem like it. They went to anoint his body, and the stone was rolled away. That meant that Something unpleasant must have had happened. This in a weekend filled with enough unpleasantness to last more than a lifetime. After the sudden and brutal death of Jesus, to now find his grave desecrated was too much. Worse than that, when they entered the tomb, they discovered that someone had taken the body. The women were alarmed to say the least. But they are told do not be alarmed. Being told that doesn’t really reassure them a whole lot. They end trembling and astonished. They are afraid. Who wouldn’t be?
The word they hear in the tomb does not make them feel better, because they are told something that simply can not be true. After all, these are some of the same women who were with him at the cross. They saw him taken down, and laid in the tomb. They saw what his body had endured. There was no question that he was dead on Friday. And so, to hear on Sunday that he was living again was too much.
If you have a funeral on Friday, and go to the cemetery and bury a loved one, the one thing that won’t happen on Sunday when you visit the grave is to find your loved one alive. If the grave were opened, you would be alarmed. If someone told you that they were alive again, you would be astonished and afraid. You wouldn’t know what to do.
So it is with the women. And The last thing they can afford to do at this point is to get their hopes up, because they know that it can not be true.
But, of course, the impossible has happened, and now everything has changed. Jesus is alive. The grave has been defeated. And now, life reigns.
Rejoice! Sing of the glorious gift you are given this day. Today, do not look at your bleeding savior on the cross. Do not think on your sin that put him there. There was a time for that meditation. That time has passed. Today see the savior raised up. Today rejoice that not only is he raised up, but that your sins have been eternally removed from you. Today, rejoice that everything has changed for you. Not only are you a beloved child of God, who has been redeemed from death hell and the devil, not only are you his dear child, but all that separates you from God has been taken away. When you were Baptized, you were crucified with Jesus, and raised again to a new life. That is why the early church baptized on Easter. That is why the baptism candle is called the paschal candle – the candle that marks the resurrection. Today a new candle is lit for the first time. A new flame reminds you of your baptism. This is the day of your salvation. The day that death was defeated. This is your baptism day – the day Christ was raised.
And this hope that you are given this day is not merely a hope for something good to happen after you die.
This changes everything about how you live. Now, your life is not merely a chasing after the wind. There is no need to go after the things the world thinks are important; because your legacy is not this life. Your legacy is the life Christ gives in his death and resurrection.
That means that not only do you not need to worry about the things of this world, what you will eat or drink, what you will wear; You do not need to go after the wealth that is destroyed by moth and rust. You treasure is an eternal treasure. – –
When Jesus friend Lazarus died, and Jesus told Martha that Lazarus would live again, the response was, “I know he will live again in the resurrection on the last day…” That is, yeah, great. That news and $2.50 will buy a cup of coffee. So what are we supposed to do until then. But Jesus has a much more immediate time frame in mind. He means that by the end of the day Lazarus will be walking and talking to them again.
It’s easy to think of the resurrection as some far off thing that doesn’t really affect you all that much. It’s a way out there sort of thing. But Jesus has a much more immediate salvation in mind. Jesus is raised. A real body restored and glorified. This isn’t some out there sort of thing, that might affect you some day. The resurrection of your Lord is all of your worst fears, all of those monsters in the closet, all of those things that go bump in the night, that keep you up worrying, they are banished forever. Jesus is alive now. And while we lay bodies in the grave to rest, and while they stay there for a time, Jesus shows that the resurrection isn’t just some abstract religious principle designed to help you feel a little better after the you say an eternal good bye to a loved one. Jesus is talking about a real honest to goodness new body for you.
So rejoice. Death is vanquished. Death though it could take Jesus body, but death took on God and lost. Now, Christ is risen and you have been set free from the curse of death. You sin is taken away, now your death has been undone.
Jesus death changes everything. Even the troubles you face in this world are not the same. The world is the same sinful place. The troubles the world sends you are the same. But they have a very different effect on you now that you know that death has lost its power. Now that you see Jesus raised from the dead.
When you have trouble in this world, you can place your burdens on Jesus, because he has already carried the heavy load for you. He has already borne the weight of your sin. He has already taken away the power of death over you. And yet, his yoke is easy, his burden is light. He has overcome the world. The world can no longer overcome you.
More importantly, he has overcome death itself. Death no longer has dominion over you. The life you live, you live in God. The life you live is the life of God, given by God to you in your Baptism, when you were joined to his death and raised again to a new life.
Jesus has been raised, and he is the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep. TO where he has gone, there you will go. To Christ be glory and power forever and ever. Amen!