The Resurrection of Our Lord
Passage: Matthew 28:1–28:10
†††In the Name of Jesus†††
Pastor Murray Keith
Text: Acts 10:34–43; Colossians 3:1–4; Matthew 28:1–10
Date: April 1st, 2018; Easter Sunday
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
When Jesus died on the cross - all looked like it was lost.
For the disciples who had believed in him - all hopes were gone.
To the mortal eye - it looked as if God had lost and the devil had won.
There hung the world’s great Redeemer—dead, defeated, and humiliated.
If the story had ended there - then St. Paul was right in saying that our faith is futile and in vain and we are of all people to be most pitied.
Two thousand years of Baptisms, confirmations, sermons, Holy Communions - would mean absolutely nothing.
And worst of all - we would all still be dead in our trespasses and sins.
If the story had ended there - we would have no hope of eternal life.
Today we rejoice that this is not where the story ended.
Death sank its dreadful teeth into the author of life.
But its victory was short-lived. Death’s victory was brought to an end on the first day of the week, when early in the morning - our Lord Jesus rose from the dead.
This is where we find the two Marys in the Holy Gospel reading for today.
St. Mark tells us that these two women had gone to the tomb of Jesus early in the morning on the first day of the week to anoint the dead body of Jesus with spices.
St. Matthew tells us what they encountered when they arrived at Jesus’ tomb: “And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it” (Matthew 28:2).
The women, still in shock from the events of Good Friday, are now faced with the sight of a glorious angel, whose appearance was like lightning and whose clothing was white as snow.
The guards are frightened to death, but the angel says to the women: “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified” (Matthew 28:5).
And then come those simple, yet astonishing and beautiful words we heard in Mark’s Gospel: “He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him” (Matthew 28:6).
All was not lost! Death did not have the last word! Their faith was not in vain. Our faith is not in vain!
The humiliation and death of the Son of God was part of God’s plan to save us.
It was necessary that the Christ should suffer, be crucified, and be raised again on the third day.
Over and over Jesus had told his disciples this truth, trying to prepare them for what was coming.
But it was not until he rose from the dead and appeared to them alive that they finally believed in him.
Good Friday was God’s answer to sin. It was about God making restitution for our sins by punishing his Son.
Easter is God’s answer to death. Easter is about God proving to the world that he has accepted the sacrifice of his Son as payment for our sins.
Together, Good Friday and Easter mean that your sins are forgiven in Christ and that through him you now have victory over death and the grave!
The prophet Isaiah foretold God’s victory over sin and death, as well as a celebratory feast that God himself would prepare: “On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine, of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined. And He will swallow up on this mountain the covering that is cast over all peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations. He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of His people He will take away from all the earth, for the Lord has spoken” (Isaiah 25:6–8).
God kept his promises and destroyed our greatest enemy of all in the death and resurrection of his Son!
And in his rich grace, he has also given to us a feast of “rich food” in the Supper of his Son’s body and blood.
What can be richer, what can be more satisfying than the very bread of heaven himself?
In this feast of victory, it is no imagined Jesus that we dine with. It is no mere symbol of a far distant Saviour.
It is the risen Christ himself who steps into our midst and feeds us with his crucified and risen flesh and blood for the forgiveness of our sins, life, and salvation.
What a marvellous antidote this is to our fear of death and judgment!
What glorious comfort there is for Christians on this day!
Is it any wonder that from the very beginning the Christian Church gathered on Sunday to hear the teaching of the apostles and to break bread?
After all, this is the day that God put the breath of life back into his Son - for us and for our salvation.
This is the day that Christ appeared to Peter and the other disciples who had been chosen by God as witnesses, “who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead” (Acts 10:41).
One can easily see why Easter is the main festival of the Church Year - and why every Sunday is a mini celebration of that first Easter.
If the Lord is risen, then that validates and gives meaning to everything that our Lord said and did during his earthly ministry.
There can be no doubt that his words were true.
There can be no doubt that he was the Son of God.
There can be no doubt that God has forgiven all of our sins.
If the Lord is risen, then our faith is not in vain.
There can be no doubt that Baptism truly is a washing away of sins.
There can be no doubt that Holy Communion is truly a life-giving feast of forgiveness and spiritual nourishment.
There can be no doubt that the words of Absolution spoken in the stead and by the command of Jesus Christ are truly words that forgive and remove our sin.
That is perhaps the best part of Christ’s triumphant resurrection—doubts flee!
Uncertainty about God, about his attitude toward us, about the extent of his love, or about the truthfulness of his promises flee.
And for anyone who has carried heavy crosses, for anyone who has thought in moments of difficulty that God had forgotten them, or that their faith was in vain, or that their lives have no meaning - no news is more welcome!
For those facing death or severe illness, for those who have lost a spouse, or parents, or children - we do not need to despair.
Christ is risen! He won the victory over death!
Living in this fallen world means that crosses must be carried - but today we rejoice that death did not have the last word for Jesus, and it does not have the last word for us!
If Christ still lay within the tomb
Then death would be the end
And we should face our final doom
With neither guide nor friend
But now the Saviour is raised up!
So when a Christian dies
We mourn, yet look to God in hope
In Christ the saints arise!
(LSB # 486)
He is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia! Amen.
The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus unto life everlasting. Amen.
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