He has risen, as He said

 

1Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. 2And 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. 3His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. 4And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men. 5But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. 6He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. 7Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. See, I have told you.” 8So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9And behold, Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him. 10Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.” (Matthew 28:1–10)

Jesus Christ is risen, as He said…With these words ringing in our ears, we rejoice! We rejoice because Jesus risen from the dead means that death is not the last word. Rather, Christ’s Word is, and His Word He fulfills.We rejoice in Christ’s resurrection because His resurrection means that our faith in Him is not at all futile, vain, or useless, but right, true, and full of worth and significance. Christ risen from the dead means you are no longer in your sins. Your sins do not define you. Christ’s death and resurrection do.

There, on the cross, Jesus conquered sin, death, and hell. His bodily resurrection means that these have really been conquered, defeated, and are no longer your lot. They are no longer yours to bear because on the tree, Christ already bore them in your stead. And because He bore them for you, these no more remain for you to suffer. Instead of these, in Christ, you have forgiveness, life, and heaven. Christ took all that is yours and gives you all that is His. You are complete in Him, and only in Him (Colossians 2:10).

By yourselves and of yourselves, you remain in your sin, your sin that separates you from God, your sin by which you live according to the lusts and desires of your flesh, your departure from God and His ways. By yourselves and of yourselves, and apart from Christ, your sin literally condemns you to hell, with no escape and no hope.

But thanks be to God! Now is the day of salvation. Today is the day to believe. Now is the day to cast off the works of darkness (Romans 13:12), to forsake one’s way, and to repent and believe the sweet Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, that your sin does not define you, that death is not the last word, and that hell is not your final destination.

Christ has overcome death by means of His own death. Good Friday is done. “It is finished” (John 19:30). Easter Sunday is here. The death that Christ died is sufficient sacrifice for your sins and the sins of the world. His blood cleanses you from all your sin. Christ’s resurrection means that His sacrifice was accepted, approved, and meritorious for your salvation.

Now, Jesus is the risen Savior, by whom all will be saved who will be saved, but only as they are found in Him, not having any goodness or merit of themselves, but trusting in Christ’s goodness and merit alone, for there is not other help or hope for sinners.

The gods of this world are useless in offering what the sinner needs, for the real sinner doesn’t need just a remedy to relieve temporary suffering and pain. The real sinner needs a real Savior who placates God’s wrath and truly comforts the tormented and troubled conscience. Real sinners need a real Savior who doesn’t come and go as we please or simply makes us feel good for a moment, or that leaves it up to us to solve our own problems and to come up with our own solutions.

A real Savior is real, getting into the grime and the muck of our lives, who knows our in and outs, who knows what we’re going through, who addresses our real needs and not merely our felt needs of acceptance, momentary comfort, and quick fixes. A real Savior doesn’t just address the symptoms of our sin. He gets to the root of the problem.

This real Savior is, of course, none other than Jesus of Nazareth, conceived of the Holy Spirit, born of a virgin, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and buried, who rose again on the third day. This was He foretold of in the Old Testament and the One revealed in the New Testament Scriptures. Though naysayers and nonbelievers not only doubt, but forsake this One, He is not deterred, nor does He not keep His Word, though sinners fail to.

Jesus is the One revealed in the Bible as God’s Son and our Lord, yet the One that a growing number discount and dismiss as nothing more than a mythological hero and figment of the imagination of a delusional people whom they place their hopes in something and someone neither real or true.

Indeed, according to the Rasmussen Reports polling firm, an increasing number of Americans don’t believe that Christ rose from the dead. In 2012, for example, 7% didn’t believe this central tenet of the Christian faith, whereas that percentage in 2013 has increased to 19% who don’t believe it (“Americans Losing Faith in the Bible,” Christian News, April 21, 2014, p6; see also “Americans Losing Faith in the Bible,” Washington Times, April 14, 2014).

One can certainly question the depth and accuracy of such polls, yet, truth be told, Christianity and the teaching of our Lord seem to be becoming more and more under attack, not only from those outside of the church, but also from those within. Though atheists and gay advocacy groups, as well as activist judges and others attempt to redefine marriage, and the meaning of liberty and tolerance according to their own ideologies, Christians, knowing their Bible’s less and less, support and defend such godless positions, claiming God to be love, but apart from His demonstration of love by means of Christ’s death on the cross to save sinners. And because, for them, God is a God of love, but doesn’t speak the truth according to His Word, they determine that any kind of love that they or others might choose is the end all be all of what defines a proper union, not what God has already clearly said (see Genesis 2:24). Thus, rather than calling “sin a sin,” regardless of political or social consequence, many who call themselves Christian are approving of such ungodliness. But such lovelessness is not the will of God. It is a means of permitting what God forbids, all the while claiming the god of one’s own making to be the true God.

If this be the case concerning the growing intensity of the same-sex marriage “debate” of our day, how much more could be said about the growing number who mock the Biblical account of Christ’s bodily resurrection from the dead, either implicitly by not believing it is as God says, or explicitly, by attributing the account as merely fanciful and of little significance for one’s daily life or eternal well-being.

If we think that the resurrection is of little significance for our everyday lives, we’re placing ourselves above and against the Word of our Lord who spoke according to St. John’s gospel, “These are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name” (John 20:31).

But the resurrection of our Lord is not of little significance, either temporarily or eternally. St. Paul says it this way, “If Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up — if in fact the dead do not rise. For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable”(1 Corinthians 15:14-19).

If Christ is not risen, the Holy Scriptures are not so Holy, they are not exclusively of God, and Jesus is no Savior. If Christ is not risen from the dead, we have no reason to be here in this place, for the message of forgiveness and salvation, of peace with God and of God’s mercy in Christ would then be empty and void of any truth. If Jesus’ body is still in the tomb, the Christian Church is the deceiver of deceivers and only another sect of man’s creation.

But such, thankfully, is not at all the case! The Christian Church proclaims the truth as she preaches loud and clear that Christ is risen—that Christ is risen indeed! Jesus’ body is no longer in the tomb. Christ has ascended into heaven, and you eat His very body and drink His very blood at the Lord’s Table. Because Christ is risen, you have reason to be here in this place, for the message of forgiveness and salvation, of peace with God and of God’s mercy in Christ—is the truth, even the truth of which not even death can make false. Because Christ is truly risen from the dead, the Scriptures are Holy, exclusively of God, and Jesus is your Savior, apart from whom there is no other. Only the Christian faith is the true faith. And this you know because of God’s revelation to you in Christ. This you know because God makes it known to you by means of His Holy Word. And therefore, do you diligently and regularly seek to study, read, and hear this Word, for it is your life, and by it, you live.

Take this Word away, and you will have the confusion that you have in today’s Christendom. Because so many different messages permeate the airwaves that are not of God, though they claim to be of God, many are stranded in the sea of doubt and despair, looking for a Savior apart from the One God has already sent to deliver from sin and death. All religions are not of God, nor do all who claim to speak the truth truly speaking the truth. The only place to find the truth is to look outside of yourself and into God’s revelation in Christ. And there, you will find God’s favor and love, fully and completely for you, in Christ Jesus, who is indeed risen, as He said! Amen.

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