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.

Advertisements

He is risen, as He said; Announcements for the week of April 20, 2014

Jesus.EmptyTomb.John11      “Christ is risen, as He said!” (Matthew 28:6).

 

In the Name of Jesus!  Amen.

 

 

God’s people rejoice that Christ is risen, just as He said.  Christ’s resurrection means that death is not the last word on our Lord, nor on us.  On the Easter Sunday, Jesus rose bodily from the dead, which means that death didn’t “win.”  Christ did.  His resurrection means that death “loses,” for Christ is victorious.  Death is defeated.  “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live” (John 11:25).

Though we still encounter suffering and even death, Romans 6:23, we are not without hope (Romans 5:1-5, 1 Thessalonians 4:13ff).  Christ, by means of His own death, conquered sin, death, and hell.  And by means of His resurrection proclaims His victory over these and the Father’s acceptance of His Son’s sacrifice for the many (Matthew 20:28).  These, in turn, mean that the death and decay of our own bodies are not our end.  The resurrection unto life is also our hope, for Christ’s resurrection is our sure hope that our faith is not futile and that we are no longer in our sin (1 Corinthians 15).

Therefore, walk and live in this hope of Christ.  Believe, as the angel had declared and as our Lord had promised, for as Jesus said, so it is.  Amen.

This week:

Wednesday, 6:30pm-8pm: Study of the Christian Faith @ ALC—The Office of the Holy Ministry (Women Pastors?) and The Sacrament of Holy Baptism

Friday, 1pm: On-campus Bible Study on the Old Testament book of Genesis (Ch3-Adam, Eve, and the Fall)

Sunday, 9am: Divine Service of the Word

            10:30am: Study, “Christian Questions and their Answers” (Luther’s Small Catechism)

14-04-20, Resurrection of Our Lord, BA-2014A

The Resurrection of Our Lord

1When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him.  2And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb.  3And they were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?”  4And looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back—it was very large.  5And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed.  6And he said to them, “Do not be alarmed.  You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified.  He has risen; he is not here.  See the place where they laid him.  7But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee.  There you will see him, just as he told you.”  8And they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid. Mark 16:1–8 (ESV)

Isaiah 25:6–9 (OT Reading)

        6On 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.  7And he will swallow up on this mountain the covering that is cast over all peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations.  8He 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.  9It will be said on that day,  “Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us.  This is the Lord; we have waited for him; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.”

1 Corinthians 15:1–11 (Epistle Reading)

1Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.

      3For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. 7Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. 9For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. 11Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.

 

 

With certain expectation did the women approach the tomb of our Lord on that first day of the week.  They came prepared, bringing spices to anoint Jesus’ body (Mark 16:1).  But what they found, and what they didn’t find, they were least expecting.  Though the Lord Jesus had told beforehand what would be, the believed Him not.  And though He had clearly spoken, His words they did had not remembered.  Therefore did the women approach the tomb, expecting a body to be present, the body of Jesus, laying there in the tomb.

The thoughts of the women were on what they expected, anointing the body of Jesus with spices, and that the stone at the entrance of the tomb would still be there.  These were on their mind as they approached the tomb of our Lord.  Jesus had been  Numbered with the transgressors on the cross, and His grave was with the wicked, but with the rich at His death (Isaiah 53:12, 9).

What the women expected to be was not.  What they had not expected at all, that is what was.  Truly it is God who works this way, surpassing human expectation, and fulfilling that which is according to His Holy Word.  This Jesus did that day, on that first day of the week, the day after the Saturday Sabbath, early in the morning when the women had come to the tomb.

As the angel had declared, so it was, You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified.  He has risen; he is not here.

But who believes such an account today?  Who believes that Christ is physically, bodily, and corporeally risen from the dead?  No man can come back to life of himself after being dead three days.

But it is truly Jesus who in St. John’s Gospel is recorded as saying, The Father loves me, because I lay down my life, in order that I might take it up again.  No one takes it from me, but a I lay it down of myself.  I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again (John 10:17-18, my translation).

Who believes such an account today?  You do, but not because you have seen it with your own two eyes, but because God’s Spirit testifies that it is so by means of Christ’s Holy Word.  And His testimony is sufficient.

Eyes, senses, and reason will all speak differently than the Lord does on this matter.  Like the women of our text, we too have certain expectations of what is and of what will be.  According to what we know from human experience, man remains dead after death.  Corpses remain corpses.  Bodies decay.  But not so with Christ.  His body saw no decay.  Nor did God’s Holy One see corruption (Psalm 16:10; Acts 2:31).

Neither will you remain in the grave into eternity.  As Christ resurrected, so shall we when our Lord returns, for Jesus says, I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die (John 11:25-26)

Those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation (John 5:29).

Pilate did not have authority of himself to put Jesus to death.  Rather was that authority to put Jesus to death given to him.  And on that cross of crucifixion, Jesus bore the sins of all and truly died.  Yet none, not even the devil and death, had power to keep Jesus dead and in the tomb.

On this day of days, we celebrate, we rejoice greatly in the resurrection of our Lord.  The crucified One is no longer in the grave. He is risen!  He is risen indeed!  Alleluia!  Death and grave have lost their hold, for Christ has conquered death and the grave has lost its power.  Sin no more has dominion (Romans 6:14).  Jesus reigns victorious over sin, death, and the grave, now and forevermore.

But in all honesty, it doesn’t appear this way.  We still contend with our own sin and the sin of others.  And in this life, we still must face the reality of our own mortality and death, whether we like it or not, and whether we deny it or not.  Death comes to all of us, unless Christ comes before that time.  Yet for this reason did Christ die, in order to save you from your sin, from your sin that leads you to eternal death.

Jesus had not died on Good Friday on account of any transgression of His own.  On the cross, He died your death, yours and mine, and there crucified and put to death all your sin before our Holy God.  And now, because of Christ, your sin no longer belongs to you, for Christ has taken it away.  Now, because of Christ, you have His goodness, righteousness, and the Father’s everlasting kindness.  And Jesus rose again on the third day to demonstrate His power and authority over sin and death.

Therefore Christ is your life.  Death could not hold Him.  The grave could not keep Him.  In Christ, you have new life and even eternal life, where sin, death, and sorrow will be no more.

Now is Christ’s victory your victory, through faith.  And this is the victory that has overcome the world — our faith. Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? (1 John 5:4-5).

All your sin, your doubt, your faithlessness, and your despair has been swallowed up by His death, and the joy of His resurrection is now your own.

Today, we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord!  In the confession of this faith, we declare to one another and to the world this Christ, crucified and now risen.  But not only this day do we celebrate on this day.  Each day is lived in the resurrection of our Lord.  Each Sunday is a celebration of Christ’s resurrection from the dead.  And in every Lord’s Supper, we proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes, receiving into our very mouths the very body and blood, given and shed for the forgiveness of our sins, confessing too that the same Jesus Christ is no longer dead but risen, risen indeed!  Alleluia!  Amen.

%d bloggers like this: