The Resurrection of Our Lord: Easter Sunrise
April 24, 2011
Text: John 20:1-18
He is risen! He is risen, indeed!! Alleluia!!!
“This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it” (Ps. 118:24; ESV). This is the Day of the empty tomb. He is risen, as He said (Matt. 28:6). Our Lord Jesus has conquered death in His own death and resurrection. The grave could not hold Him. Our Lord Jesus has conquered sin, for the resurrection is the Father’s divine seal of approval over Jesus’ sin-atoning work. God has accepted His sacrifice on the cross and raised Him out of death. He “was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification” (Rom. 4:25). Our Lord Jesus has conquered hell and the devil, for “He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him” (Col. 2:15). Indeed, this Easter Day is the Day that the LORD has made. How can we not rejoice and be glad in it?
For this is the Day of the exodus of the New Israel, the people of God, the holy Church, from slavery to sin, death, and the devil. We have passed through the water of Holy Baptism, our old sinful flesh being drowned and the new man emerging and arising a new life in Christ. We are on our way to the Promised Land. Therefore we “sing to the LORD, for he has triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider he has thrown into the sea” (Ex. 15:1). This is the Day of the LORD’s victory. He has done it all. It is all by grace. The LORD fights for us. We have only to be silent (14:14), to believe His Word, to rest in His victory. This is the Day the LORD proclaims His resurrection triumph, and in the Word proclaimed, the Holy Spirit bestows faith in Jesus Christ as a free gift. We hold fast the Word of God in preaching and proclamation, and so we are saved (1 Cor. 15:2). By the Word of the LORD, this is the Day that the stone is rolled away from the tomb (John 20:1), that we may behold the empty tomb by faith, believing the Good News (v. 8). This is the Day the angels bear witness: There is no more need for weeping (vv. 12-13). This is the Day that the risen Lord Jesus Himself comes among us. He calls us by name (v. 16). Our names are written on the palms of His pierced hands (Is. 49:16). He has placed His own Name upon us in Holy Baptism, the Name He bears and the Name He has revealed, the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. We belong to our Triune God (Is. 43:1). This is the Day our Lord delivers us from sadness and bestows upon us great joy. And in that joy, He sends us out to confess His resurrection to others (John 20:17-18). We confess it in our rejoicing. We confess it by gathering here around font, pulpit, and altar, to receive the gifts of Jesus’ death and resurrection, to be forgiven of our sins, to gladly hear and learn His Word, to have His crucified and risen body, and the blood He shed on the cross, placed into our mouths for our forgiveness, life, and salvation. We confess it as we listen to God and then speak His Word back to Him and to one another in liturgy and song. We confess it as the Word of Christ dwells in us richly, as we teach and admonish one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in our hearts to God (Col. 3:16). We confess it as the resurrection permeates our daily lives and vocations, as we speak of Jesus to those God places in our lives, as we live lives shaped by Scripture and the holy cross, lives of faith toward God and fervent love toward one another.
Beloved in the Lord, this is the Day the LORD has made for feasting. “This is the Feast of victory for our God. Alleluia” (LSB p. 155). This is the Day the LORD has made for feasting on the body and blood of the risen Christ, Himself our Host, Himself our meal. The Holy Supper is a foretaste of the feast to come. This is the Day for casting out fear, for wiping away tears, for throwing off all anger and malice. This is the Day for reconciliation with your brothers and sisters, for you have been reconciled to God in Christ. This is the Day for forgiving those who have trespassed against you, for you have been forgiven all your trespasses by the blood of Christ. This is the Day for breaking bread together, the bread of Christ’s body here, bread in your homes with great joy as you gather around the family dinner table. For on this Day everything is changed. The old order of things has passed away. The new has come (2 Cor. 5:17). The Lord Jesus is making all things new (Rev. 21:5). Death is dead. Sin is washed away. Satan is crushed. Hell is vanquished. You have eternal life. This is the Day that the LORD has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it. For He is risen! He is risen, indeed!! Alleluia!!! And on the Last Day, your Lord Jesus will raise you, too. In the Name of the Father, and of the Son (+), and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.