Cruce Tectum

Cruce tectum, hidden under the cross, a blog for Epiphany Lutheran Church, Dorr, Michigan

Location: Moscow, Idaho

Sunday, March 23, 2008

The Resurrection of Our Lord

The Resurrection of Our Lord (A)
March 23, 2008
Text: Matt. 28:1-10

He is risen! He is risen, indeed!! Alleluia!!!

The resurrection of our Lord is God’s absolution for the sins of the whole world. The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is God’s announcement that the debt of sin has been paid in full, Jesus’ sacrifice is sufficient, the sins of the whole world are forgiven, and sinners are righteous, justified, on account of Christ. For He “was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification,” writes St. Paul (Rom. 4:25; ESV). That is to say that just as Jesus died for you, in your place, for your forgiveness, so also He is risen for you, for your justification, that you might rise in Him. You are justified, righteous in Him now by virtue of your Baptism into Him, and on the Last Day Christ, our risen Lord, will physically raise you from the dead to live eternally.

The women, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary, came early to the tomb that first day of the week, the day after the Sabbath, Sunday. They came seeking not the risen Son of God, but a corpse. They did not know that death’s bonds had been burst. They did not know that Jesus, who once lay in death’s strong bands for our offenses given, had put death to death. For them, the tomb was still sealed. The stone still blocked their vision. They could not roll away that stone themselves. They could neither roll away the stone that sealed the tomb nor the stone of unbelief that sealed their hearts. They had come to see a dead body, not a living one. So it is that the angel had to descend from heaven to roll away the stone for them. And when they looked inside, there was no Jesus. You see, Jesus didn’t need the stone to be rolled away. Remember, in His resurrection body He can walk through stone barriers and locked doors and be present bodily on all the altars of His Church at once. The stone was not rolled away for Jesus’ benefit. He was already out of the tomb. The stone is rolled away for our benefit. Look and see. There is no corpse here. There are only neatly folded grave cloths. The message the angel speaks to the women is also the message he speaks to us: “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come see the place where he lay” (Matt. 28:5-6). Come and see. See for yourself that He is no longer in the tomb. See for yourself that He is no longer in death. Believe the words of the angel. Believe the Word of the Lord. Did He not tell you before He died, that the Son of Man must suffer and be handed over to the elders and chief priests and scribes and be killed, but after three days He would rise? O ye of little faith, be no longer doubting, but believing.

The women came to the tomb in doubt, expecting only a corpse. When they arrived they found an empty tomb and the Word of Jesus’ resurrection. And Jesus does not reject them in their doubt. His resurrection is their absolution. The women are given to be the first witnesses of the resurrection. “Greetings!” says Jesus, as the women are running with fear and great joy to tell the news to Jesus’ disciples (v. 9). The Greek word also means “Rejoice!” There He stands before them, mortal wounds intact. They know Him by His wounds. They fall at His pierced feet and cling to Him in worship. Rejoice, indeed! All is forgiven. Doubt is dispelled. Faith is bestowed. Death is dead, for Christ is risen. And the women are given a message to give the disciples. “(G)o and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me” (v. 10).

Notice that Jesus calls the disciples “my brothers.” Jesus’ resurrection is absolution for the disciples as well. For Jesus’ prophecy was fulfilled on the night of His Passion. All the disciples fell away on account of Him. Judas betrayed Him with a kiss. Peter denied Him three times. All the others fled. And now Judas had hanged himself, fell headlong and spilled his guts. And the rest of the disciples, though still alive, were scared to death. They were huddled together in misery, the doors locked for fear of the Jews. They were not expecting a risen Lord, either. Unlike the women, they didn’t even care to go visit the grave. But Jesus sends them a message. He calls the Eleven, “my brothers.” Rejoice! All is forgiven. Come to Galilee and you will see. Doubt will be dispelled. Faith will be bestowed. Death is dead, for Christ is risen.

The resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ from the dead is your holy absolution as well. Have you ever doubted the resurrection? It makes for a nice story and a nice Spring holiday, but do you really believe it actually happened? And what about your own resurrection, and that of your loved ones who have died in Christ? Have you ever doubted? Do you really believe that you and your fellow believers shall rise from the dead… that you have eternal life in Christ, not only spiritually, but physically? Are you here this morning seeking a corpse, honoring a good man who died on a cross many years ago and who is alive today only in our hearts? Because that is no faith. That’s not Jesus. Have you perhaps betrayed Jesus with a kiss, honoring Him with your lips, while inside your heart is full of treachery? Have you denied Him, pretending you do not know Him so that you do not have to suffer the persecution of the world? Have you denied Him, preferring your own sin and your own idols to the crucified Lord? Have you fled from Him in fear lest you have to die with Him, locked the doors in case someone recognizes you as His disciple and you have to suffer scorn and violence? Repent. And rejoice!

For here is the good news for you on this day and every day. Christ is risen. He does not reject you. He calls you His brothers and sisters. “Greetings!” He says to you. “Rejoice! I have been given into death for your forgiveness. I have been raised for your justification. I was dead, but behold, I live forevermore. And I have the keys to death and Hades. All is forgiven, dear brothers and sisters. Do not fear any more. There is no longer any reason to fear. I have come to dispel all doubt. I have come to bestow faith and breathe my good Spirit into your hearts. I have come to raise you from spiritual death. For death is dead. Behold, I am risen. Your debt is paid in full. You are reconciled to God. You can now call God your Father, for I call Myself your Brother.”

This morning your risen Lord Jesus bestows upon you new life. He has incorporated you into Himself. He has baptized you into Himself. You have died with Christ in Baptism, and been raised with Him. And your life is now hidden with Christ in God (Col. 3:3). So also on the Last Day you will be raised from the dead. Death no longer has mastery over you, because Christ is risen… Death no longer has mastery over Him. Therefore, on that Day when Christ returns to judge the living and the dead, “When Christ who is your life appears, then you will appear with him in glory” (v. 4). You have the guarantee of eternal life, body and soul, in a new heavens and a new earth, because Christ is risen, and in Him you have forgiveness and justification. Do you need any more convincing? Come to the Feast. Come to the Feast and behold with your mouths the body and blood of the risen Lord Jesus. Cling to His wounds, as the women did. The wounds are mortal, yet the body and blood are living, immortal. They are the body and blood of the firstfruits of the resurrection. The Lamb who was slain stands and give life to His Church. The risen Lord Jesus is Himself the Host at this Feast. And what He here places on your tongues will nourish you body and soul for that Day when He calls you forth from the grave and says to you, “Greetings! Rejoice!”

He is risen! He is risen, indeed!! Alleluia!!!

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son (+), and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.


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