Cruce Tectum

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

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Location: Moscow, Idaho

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Easter Sunrise

The Resurrection of Our Lord: Easter Sunrise (A)

April 20, 2014
Text: 1 Cor. 15:1-11; John 20:1-18

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

            “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared” to many eyewitnesses (1 Cor. 15:3-5; ESV).  First importance, Paul says.  Jesus died for you.  He was buried for you.  He was raised for you.  And if you don’t believe it, I’m telling you there were eyewitnesses, he says.  Many of them were still alive when Paul penned our Epistle.  Go talk to them, if you like, Paul says to the Corinthians.  Not to mention, Paul was one of the eyewitnesses, for “Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me” (v. 8), Paul writes of his encounter with the risen Jesus on the road to Damascus (Cf. Acts 9:1-19).  First importance, for as Paul goes on to write a few verses later in this same chapter, “if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins… But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep” (1 Cor. 15:17, 20).
            The bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead changes everything for you.  Because no matter what you’ve done, no matter what you’ve experienced, no matter who you are or what guilt you bear, no matter the suffering, no matter the heartache, this is now the end of the story for you: Jesus Christ, who is risen from the dead, will raise you, too.  He will do it on the Last Day.  And you will live forever with Him.  Well, knowing that, there is nothing you can’t endure.  For you who are hopeless, now there is hope.  For you who are riddled with guilt, Jesus has taken that guilt away in His death on the cross and buried it forever in His tomb.  The Father has accepted Jesus’ sacrifice on your behalf.  The proof is that He raised Jesus Christ from the dead.  For you who suffer great physical, mental, or emotional afflictions, the Lord Jesus will give you relief and healing when He raises your mortal body.  For you who have been wearied by the changes and chances of this life, there is rest and refreshment in the new life that the risen Christ gives to you.  For you whose heart has been weighed down with grief, depression, or despair, there is eternal consolation in the risen Lord Jesus who has conquered sin and death and cast out fear.
            Now, understand, the reason this changes everything is that it is a bodily resurrection.  There was a dead Body that is no longer dead.  He lives.  The wounds are still there.  We’ll hear Him next week inviting Thomas to poke and prod them with his fingers.  This is a real, flesh and blood resurrection from the dead.  It is not simply that Jesus lives on in our hearts.  The resurrection of Jesus was not only spiritual.  When we speak of the risen Jesus, we don’t mean the legacy He left behind in His disciples and the Christian religion.  Jesus Christ is risen from the dead, bodily.  And that means that the Son of God who reigns in heaven is a flesh and blood man.  Ever since His conception in the womb of the Virgin Mary, there is no Jesus who doesn’t have a Body.  He is not an apparition.  He is not a ghost.  He’s a man.  And wherever He is, He’s there as a man, with a Body that is risen and living.  That means that when you confess Jesus is with you here at Church, in your home, in your car, and wherever you go, you are confessing the real presence of an unseen flesh and blood human being, the man, Christ Jesus.  That means also that we really mean it when we confess the true Body and Blood of Jesus Christ under the bread and wine in the Supper.  We’re talking about a real Body, the Body of Christ.  We’re talking about real Blood, the Blood of Christ.  Unseen and undetectable by human observation, but really here.  The bread is His Body.  The wine is His Blood.  Because He says so.  And how can that be?  How can His Body be present in heaven and on our altar and on all the altars where His Supper is received according to His institution, and everywhere else all at the same time?  This man is God!  So His very real human Body can do things that our very real, but fallen and very much not God bodies cannot do.  You cannot see this to be the reality, but you believe it, because He says so.  And you believe Him, because He is bodily risen from the dead.  That means everything He says and everything He claims to be is true, because He rose, just as He said.  That’s the big one.  No one else in all the world’s history has claimed this and been able to do it: to really die, lay dead in the grave, and then come out of it, body intact and even better than before.  But Jesus did. 
            And there is eyewitness testimony that would stand up in any court.  He appeared to Mary Magdalene (John 20:14), then to Peter, then to the Twelve (1 Cor. 15:5), then to more than five hundred brothers at one time, again, many of whom were still alive when Paul wrote the First letter to the Corinthians (v. 6), then to James, the Lord’s brother, and to all the apostles (v. 7), and finally, as we said, to St. Paul Himself (v. 8).  That’s pretty good testimony.  Especially considering biblically you only need two or three witnesses to establish a matter (Deut. 17:6; 2 Cor. 13:1).  These people saw Jesus Christ alive in His Body.  They heard Him speak.  Many saw Him eat.  Some even touched Him.  And He continued to appear among them for forty days after His Resurrection, until His Ascension into heaven.
            And this is a matter of first importance for you.  Because what Jesus has done in His bodily resurrection from the dead, He will do for you.  He will raise you bodily.  You will live again, and I don’t just mean in our hearts, or spiritually, or in the legacy you leave behind.  I don’t even mean just in heaven, although certainly when you die, your soul will be in heaven with Jesus as you await the Resurrection.  But I mean this.  You will live again in your body, made perfect, in the image of Jesus’ Resurrection Body.  He will raise you from your grave.  And you will never die again.  You will live, flesh and blood, just like you are now, only better.  And when we say, as Christians, that we will see our loved ones again, we don’t just mean in heaven.  We mean in their bodies.  With our eyes.  In the Resurrection.  And then you will be eyewitnesses, along with those Paul lists in our Epistle.  You’ll see it for yourself.  You will. 

            After all, you are baptized into Christ.  You have died with Christ.  You have been buried with Him by Baptism into death (Rom. 6:4).  And if that is true, and it is, you will also be raised with Christ.  You have already risen with Him to new life spiritually.  That is why you believe in Him, and that is why you will go to heaven.  On that Day, you will be raised with Him to new life bodily, when He comes to you on the Last Day, as you sleep in your grave, and He says to you, “Time to wake up.”  And you’ll open your eyes to the New and Eternal Day as you see for yourself the radiant face of your living Lord Jesus.  He will do it.  For 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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