Cruce Tectum

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

Location: Moscow, Idaho

Sunday, March 31, 2013

The Resurrection of Our Lord - Sunrise

The Resurrection of Our Lord—Easter Sunrise (C)
March 31, 2013
Text: 1 Cor. 15:51-57; John 20:1-18

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

            Death.  The reality that every one of us must die should lead every one of us to utter despair.  If death is the ultimate reality, then what’s the point?  Then there’s no meaning in life, there’s no greater purpose to it all, and we best eat, drink, and be merry now, while we can, because tomorrow we die.  Note that this is the prevailing worldview of the day.  It is the premise of secularism, the logical result of the theory of evolution which removes any need for God in creation and makes death the controlling factor in the evolution of species.  If that worldview is true, we’re doomed, and everything is pointless.  That’s why Easter is so important.  Jesus Christ is risen from the dead.  Death is not the end.  Death is not the ultimate reality.  Death is not the controlling factor of our lives or our existence.  The Lord Jesus Christ has conquered death in His bodily resurrection, and death’s grip on us is defeated.  Our Lord promises that He will raise us, too, bodily, on the Last Day, and He has the power and authority to do it, because death could not hold Him.  Death swallowed Him up, and He punched and Easter-sized hole right through death’s belly.  As a result, death cannot hold you, either.  Death is not the end of you.  And that changes everything.  In place of despair, there is sure and certain hope.  There is a meaning to your life, a value, the value of the Son of God’s blood and death, and a greater purpose as one redeemed by Him to be His own and to live with Him eternally.  Instead of “eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die,” now it’s “receive, rejoice, and give thanks, and then give to your neighbor in love, for you’ll eat, drink, and be merry with Jesus for all eternity.”  Jesus has unsealed the tomb.  It is impossible for it to keep you in.
            Now, this is not just some spiritual ideal without substance.  It’s a flesh and blood reality.  That’s very important.  Jesus didn’t just rise from the dead in our hearts, whatever that might mean.  He didn’t live on in the spirit of the disciples, another meaningless idea.  Nor did He simply go to heaven in His spirit, leaving His body in the grave.  His is a flesh and blood resurrection.  What did He say to Thomas and the other disciples in the upper room?  Touch me.  Poke your fingers around in my wounds.  Reach your hands into my side.  It’s really me, the very Lord who was crucified for your sins.  I really died, and behold, I really live.  A resurrection that is anything less than that is useless.  So if this is true of Jesus, this is what will be true of you when He raises you from the dead on the Last Day.  Your resurrection will be a flesh and blood reality, a bodily resurrection.  Anything less than that is useless.
            The Corinthians, to whom St. Paul writes in our Epistle, were discussing the resurrection of the dead.  Being Greek, they were enamored with philosophical speculation.  One of the ideas circulating among them was that resurrection was only spiritual at best, figurative at worst.  In other words, some of them did not believe in a bodily resurrection.  They thought that the resurrection had already happened… spiritually.  The dead believers were with Christ spiritually, and that was it.  There is no bodily resurrection.  St. Paul pens the Fifteenth Chapter of his First Letter to the Corinthians to combat this very notion.  He shows just where this theory gets the Corinthians: “if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised.  And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain… if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.  Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.  If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.  But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep” (1 Cor. 15:13-14, 17-20; ESV; emphasis added).  (We’ll get some of this text in our Epistle for the next service.)  St. Paul makes it utterly clear.  We’re talking about a bodily, flesh and blood, resurrection here, both that of Jesus, and your own resurrection from the dead on the Last Day.  And that takes the teeth out of death.  ‘Death is swallowed up in victory.’  ‘O death, where is your victory?  O death, where is your sting?’” (vv. 54-55).
            We sometimes make a mistake very similar to that of the Corinthians.  We speak of death being the end of the body.  We treat the dead body as something that is to be disposed of, as something we’ll never need again.  We talk about the soul of the believer being with Christ in heaven, which is quite true, but we act as though that’s all there is, as if there’s nothing bigger and better to come.  And that’s a grave mistake.  If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised.  And you know from St. Paul what that means.  Thanks be to God, that’s not the case.  But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead.  And He’ll raise you, too.  Bodily.  He redeemed you soul and body.  Death is not the end of your soul, and death is not the end of your body.  That’s why every funeral sermon should be an Easter sermon.  The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and your resurrection on the Last Day should be proclaimed in no uncertain terms.  For this is the promise of the risen Lord Jesus: “the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.  For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality” (vv. 52-53).
            And this makes all the difference when you face death.  Whether it be your own or that of a loved one, you face death with confidence, with hope, and even with joy.  Sadness, to be sure, for death is not what God ever wanted for His people.  Death is the wages of sin.  It’s okay to be sad.  But as a Christian, you, can be full of joy even in the midst of sadness.  Because you know death is not the end.  Christ has taken away your sin and its wages.  And on the Last Day the Lord Jesus will raise all the dead, and give eternal life, body and soul, to all believers in Christ.  That means death is but a slumber, a  nap from which you will wake up.  And how do we know this?  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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