Sermon for Easter Sunday

Sermon for Easter Sunday

(Transcribed by machine 04/07/2024)

Christ is risen. He is risen indeed. Alleluia. In the name of the risen Jesus Christ. Amen.
Dear saints, it is a wonder that God the Holy Spirit has gathered us into this room today
in the conviction that something that happened 1,991 years ago in a small little corner of the
world, in a garden, in a little cave, a little tomb, that something that happened over there
way back then actually matters for us today.
And it is quite an amazing thing.
It’s a miracle.
I thank the Lord for it, that He has given you this conviction and this faith, because
it’s not an obvious thing.
The world has so many things that it wants to put our attention on, so many things for
us to worry about big things, wars, bridges collapsing, elections, little things, things
in our own life, the troubles that all of us have, that our attention is on all of these
things.
But here we are gathered in this confidence and in this faith that the resurrection of
our Lord Jesus Christ changes, in fact, it doesn’t just change history and everything,
it also changes us.
It changes our own life.
It changes the way that we think about things, the way that we think about ourselves, the
way that we think about God, the way that we think about each other, the way we think
about the past and the way we think about the future.
God be praised for that.
It was not obvious that this was going to be such a profound change.
The gospel lesson from Mark chapter 16 tells about the women who went to the tomb early
in the morning, Mary Magdalene and Mary the wife of Clopas and Salome and probably a few
of the other women were there also.
They were there when Jesus died two days earlier on Friday.
They saw the place where He was laid.
They marked that place.
They knew that place.
They had been part of the hasty burial of Jesus, but they knew that the work of burial
wasn’t done, that they had more to do, and so they bought spices and early in the morning
they were going to the tomb. Now, their expectation was that Jesus was going to be there. I mean,
that’s what you expect. Maybe a living person doesn’t always stay where you put them, but
a dead person does. In fact, they’re wondering, remember, as they were on the way, the only
thing they were wondering about is how they were going to get in there. They’re walking
And they’re like, oh, how are we going to even get in there?
There’s a huge stone rolled over the tomb, and not only that, but they had sealed it
and they had set a guard to watch it.
How are we going to get in there?
Now, there’s an apologetic point that I just want to kind of just veer a little bit to
the side and pick up on the way, because the resurrection of Jesus is a historical fact
before it’s a theological fact.
It’s an event before it’s a doctrine.
We have to have that in our minds, we have to have that in our hearts.
It’s every year we have to, because every year there’s this survey that, I don’t know
who does these surveys, but they call up the Christians and they ask, hey, if we found
the body of Jesus, would you still be a Christian?
And 85% of people say yes, still be a Christian.
The resurrection of Jesus isn’t a thing that matters, He’s risen in my heart.
That’s wrong. It’s all that matters. Jesus promised on the third day I’ll rise
from the tomb. If he didn’t keep that promise he’s a liar. Paul says if Christ
wasn’t raised from the dead then our hope is futile and our faith is
in vain. Everything in our lives, in our hopes, in our faith, in this
church, and everything for our present and for our future depends on the actual
resurrection of Jesus from the dead, from the fact of the resurrection of Jesus
from the dead. If Jesus wasn’t raised from the dead, we should probably all just
sell the church, turn it into a nightclub or something, go our merry way. In fact,
that’s what Paul says, eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we will die. If in
this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all people the most to be pitied.
No, our faith is a conviction that Jesus was truly dead, truly buried, and truly
raised on the third day. It’s an amazing thing to me that the disciples of Jesus, who heard
him promise his resurrection, didn’t believe it. The twelve, well the eleven, now were
in the upper room, locked away for fear of being executed and crucified themselves, and
the women who came to the tomb were expecting to find Jesus there, so that they could finish
the work of burial. And they’re as astonished as you could be, that when they get to the
whom they find the stone rolled away.
And when they go in, they find an angel sitting there, who, I think all the angels, the angels
are there when Jesus is born, they’re there when Jesus is suffering, they’re there when
now Jesus is raised.
And they are a little bit, in the resurrection, if you’ll let me say this, they are a little
bit sassy.
Like, what are you looking for?
He told you that he was going to be raised.
You seek Jesus of Nazareth?
Why are you looking here?
Why do you look for the living amongst the dead?
He was raised just like he promised.
Look, see the place where they laid him.
John tells us that the grave clothes were there.
This is another apologetic point.
It’s really important because one of the options is, well, maybe the body of Jesus was moved,
but these grave clothes would stick to the skin with the spices.
You couldn’t separate these cloths from the body if you wanted to.
So if Jesus was gone, if he was stolen, the clothes wouldn’t be there, but Jesus
leaves him behind. In fact, the veil that’s over his face, John tells us, was
folded and set to the side. Jesus says, I don’t need this anymore, and he puts it
there. So they see the grave clothes there, the place where they laid him. He’s
not there anymore. Go and tell his disciples that he’s risen just like he
promised. The angel says, you’ll find him and meet him in Galilee. This is what he
told you to do already, and the women left the tomb afraid. It says they’re
afraid. They didn’t know what to think of this. They’re still trying to figure it
out. The Holy Spirit is still working faith in their heart over the fact of
the resurrection. But the fact of the resurrection is only the first part of
our contemplation this morning, because we are here gathered in the conviction
that that fact, that that resurrection, that that empty tomb, that that, that the
The life of Jesus came back into His body on the third day, and He walked out of that
tomb as the Son of Man, victorious over sin and death.
We are here in the conviction that that also matters for us, that it matters for you, it
matters for me.
Now there are in this life three great enemies that we face, sin and death and the devil.
And it is the Lord’s victory over all three of them that we celebrate this weekend.
His death and His resurrection is His forgiving sins and His destruction of the grave and
His overthrowing of the devil.
But I think that there’s something unique in each of the events that Jesus accomplishes
that are in some ways connected to each one.
In other words, when we were thinking on Good Friday about the death of Jesus, we were thinking
especially about our sins, about how Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin
of the world.
We were thinking about how God forsook Jesus because all of our sins were on Him, so that
the cross is the forgiveness of sins.
And now on Easter Sunday, we think about death and how Jesus in His resurrection has overcome
the grave.
He’s destroyed death, that great devourer.
He’s knocked the teeth out of death, oh death where is your sting by his
resurrection from the dead? And I was thinking about this also, this is just a
half-baked idea so just maybe take it for what it’s worth or you guys can help
me reflect on it afterwards, that the Lord Jesus in his dying and rising again
was not thinking simply about himself but for us and he wanted us to have the
benefit of his death and resurrection, and to do that he instituted the
sacraments. It’s not accidental that the Lord’s Supper was instituted by our Lord
Jesus Christ on the night when he was betrayed. In the last minutes of his
freedom before he was arrested in the garden and taken through the trial and
nailed to the cross, in the last minutes of his freedom he took bread and broke
it and gave thanks and gave it to them saying, take and eat, this is my body. And
the cup after supper, and he blessed it, and he said, take and drink, this is the
blood of the New Testament, shed for you for the forgiveness of sins. In other
words, if we think of the cross and the forgiveness of sins, we think of the Lord’s
supper. That’s why Jesus gives it, for the forgiveness of sins. But then, in his
resurrection, he’s giving out the gift of baptism. Jesus, when he goes to the
mountain in Galilee, this is Matthew 28, and he says to the disciples, they come
and they fall down and worship Him, and He says,
go and make disciples of all nations,
baptizing them in the name of the Father
and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit
and teaching them to hold to everything I’ve commanded
and look, I’m with you always, even to the end of the age.
In Mark 16, 16, a few verses after the text
that we read this morning, Jesus says to the disciples,
whoever believes and is baptized will be saved.
Whoever does not believe will be condemned.
So that Jesus is connecting these three things for us.
His death, our forgiveness, and the Lord’s Supper, His resurrection, His destruction
of our death, and our baptism.
And if you want the third, remember, so sin and cross and supper and death and resurrection
and baptism, and then there’s the devil, who the Lord gives the gift of the absolution,
the kind of third sacrament, if you would, when he said he breathes on the disciples
and says, whoever sins you forgive, they’re forgiven.
This is how we fight against the devil in this life, so that the Lord is bringing that
victory of his death and his resurrection to us from the altar with his body and blood
and in the font with the water and in the preaching and the word and the absolution
overcoming sin, death, and the devil.
And that’s for us.
Now, the way this comes to us, particularly on Easter, is that the Lord Jesus, by His
resurrection and by your baptism, sets you free from the fear of death.
It was one of these, it’s the mark of a Christian, by the way.
It’s one of those things that the, remember the old pagans when, like the pagan, the Roman
rulers were trying to figure out these Christians back in the ancient days?
They had heard of the Jews, the Hebrews,
and they kind of knew what was going on there,
but as they’re finding all of these Christians,
they’re like, what are these guys about?
What are they doing?
Who are the Christians?
And so there’s these letters back and forth
between these Roman rulers
trying to figure out who the Christians are.
And what they say about us is that,
well, they believe that there was a man named Jesus
who was risen from the dead,
and they get together every week
To eat his body and drink his blood, weird.
And here’s the thing about them, they’re not afraid to die.
They’re not afraid to die.
You can threaten them with any kind of torture, you can threaten them with any kind of pain,
you can threaten them with any kind of death, and they’re not afraid.
They’ll go and face whatever you throw at them with boldness and confidence in Jesus
because they said He was raised from the dead.
Hebrews says it like this, that just as we partake of flesh and blood, Jesus partook
of the same, so that through His death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that
is the devil, and set all those who were afraid of death free from that fear.
So Jesus this morning has this purpose of setting us free from the fear of death.
Now I want to take two steps back and get a running start right at this point.
Because when we think about death, I don’t know if we do think about death, but when
we stop to think about death, maybe I could ask it this way, how do you think the culture
would consider death. Either death, here’s the first point, either death is the end or
it’s not. And I think that most people in the world and in our secular culture would
like to hold on to that idea. Well, you live and then you die and then it’s over. You just
go to the dirt and that’s it. You stop to exist. But there’s something about that that
It just doesn’t sit with anybody.
Just doesn’t sit right.
We have, well, Ecclesiastes says it like this, we have eternity written in our heart so that
we know that we’re not meant to die, and we know that we’re going to live past death.
Okay, so if we live past death, then what happens?
Now, here’s where I think our world comes in and says, well, you just kind of go to
the light.
It’s going to be great.
It’s just, it’s sort of a blissful, strange existence.
Maybe you get absorbed into something bigger.
Who knows?
But we also know that that can’t be right.
All of us have a conscience, and that conscience tells us a lot of things.
Tells us that something’s wrong in the world.
It says that something’s wrong about everybody else.
It says, when we’re honest, it says that something’s wrong with us.
That conscience points to the necessity of a judgment.
And so this is what we can know about death, philosophically, when we think about it.
That we live past death and that there will be a judgment.
judgment, and that, dear friends, that is frightful.
Because which one of us wants to face a judge, especially a holy judge who made us, based
on our own works, based on our own efforts, based on our own what?
Our own trying to be good?
You know, in the quiet moments when that idea sinks in that I’ve got to be judged and we
We try to play it out in our own imaginations, how it might go, and we try to convince ourselves
that we’re pretty good people, that we’ve tried hard, that we want to help people, but
you know that…
I mean, who are you fooling?
Now, the Bible comes along and not only does it confirm that instinct of ours, it’s appointed
for man once to die and then to be judged, but it tells us something else.
It tells us these two things about death.
It tells us first that death is the punishment, that death is a punishment for sin, and second
that death is an enemy.
The wages of sin is death.
On the day that you eat of it, surely you will die.
So that death is a bringing about of God’s wrath, and not only that, but death is an
enemy.
Death is a devourer.
The grave is this mouth that just consumes and consumes until – and it’s never full,
It’s never, it always wants to have more.
That death is the enemy of humanity and that death is tracking each one of us down.
It’s the footsteps that we hear behind us in the dark.
All of us have to die.
But here comes Easter.
Here comes the news that our Lord Jesus Christ was dead and buried and on the third day rose
from the dead.
Here is the news, that not only has Jesus taken away the punishment of death by the
forgiveness of sins, he also takes away the victory of death by his resurrection on the
third day.
And the picture that we have, I think maybe the most wonderful picture, is this picture
from Isaiah 25.
It’s there, you probably have to look at it.
All right, go back a few pages, because you’re not going to believe it unless you see it.
Page 15 is where I find it.
Make note, Jonathan, that we’re all going back to page 15, so we’re going to be lost
when the sermon is over.
Because here in Isaiah 25 is a picture of the resurrection, and it’s the picture of
a feast, and we’re all sitting at this huge table, and we’re eating all of the best food.
In fact, I think it’s described really well like we’re all eating barbecue.
Tell me if you think it sounds like barbecue.
you.
Verse 6, on this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all people a feast of rich food,
of well-aged wine, of rich food full of marrow.
I don’t know what that means, but I just think brisket.
Of aged wine, well refined.
Can you imagine?
This, by the way, is my prayer for you.
Every Sunday when we gather together, my prayer is that all that the Lord gathers here would
be gathered around His throne on the last day.
And I pray that today, too.
That we’ll all be at this table, eating of this rich food, drinking of this rich wine,
and enjoying eternal life and the threat of death far behind us, enjoying this meal.
And then as we’re looking around the table and so happy to see everybody there, then
we look and we see at the head of the table is the Lord Himself.
And we see that He’s eating, but He’s not eating what we’re eating.
He’s eating something else.
And so we look and we ask, Lord, what are you eating?
And He answers, I don’t think He talks with food in His mouth.
but the Lord answers and he says this all this I’m just eating death with a
side of grave and some fried devil that’s what it says look at verse 7 and
he the Lord will swallow up on this mountain the covering that’s cast over
all people, the veil that’s spread over all nations, He will swallow up death
forever, and the Lord God will wipe away the tears from all faces, and the
reproach of His people He’ll take away from the earth, for the Lord has spoken.”
Grave, this ancient devourer has been devoured by your Lord Jesus Christ.
The fear of death is gone and he now gives you death as a gift to live as Christ, to
die as gain, to close our eyes to sleep the sleep of death, is to open them to see the
face of Jesus, who is smiling the victor over sin, death, and the devil for you.
These Christians are strange. They believe that their Lord Jesus was risen
from the dead. They gather every week to eat his body and drink his blood for the
of sins and they and you are not afraid to die. May God grant it for Christ’s sake.
Christ is risen. He is risen indeed. Alleluia. The grace of our Lord Jesus
Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.