Cruce Tectum

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

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Location: Moscow, Idaho

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Easter Sunrise

The Resurrection of Our Lord: Easter Sunrise

March 27, 2016
Text: John 20:1-18

He is risen!  He is risen, indeed!  Alleluia!
            “(F)or as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that he must rise from the dead” (John 20:9; ESV).  How did they miss this?  It’s not as though He hadn’t told them.  Multiple times, in fact. Just a few days before, He had said to them in the upper room: “A little while, and you will see me no longer; and again a little while, and you will see me… Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice.  You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy” (John 16:16, 20).  Earlier, in the Gospel according to St. Luke, Jesus is even more explicit: “For [the Son of Man] will be delivered over to the Gentiles and will be mocked and shamefully treated and spit upon.  And after flogging him, they will kill him, and on the third day he will rise” (Luke 18:32-33).  In each of the Gospels Jesus announces His death and resurrection multiple times before it happens, and still the disciples don’t understand.  Now Peter and John stand there at the empty tomb, the linens and graves cloths neatly folded on the vacant bench, and they still don’t understand.  John believes.  Perhaps Peter, too.  But they don’t understand.  They don’t get it.  It still doesn’t make sense to them how their Master who was dead is no longer in the tomb, but made good on His Word by rising, as He said.
            But we aren’t much better than Peter and John, are we?  We do have the benefit of hindsight and the testimony of the eyewitnesses: the women, the Apostles, James, and over five hundred brothers at one time.  There is even St. Paul who met the risen Christ along the Damascus road.  But for all this, how seriously do we take it, really?  Do we really understand what an earth-shaking, cosmic event has taken place?  Do we really understand what this means for us and for our salvation?  Does it even occur to us that the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead changes everything for our life and our daily existence?
            Two impossible things happened in Holy Week.  God died.  God can’t die.  But He did, on the cross, in the flesh of Jesus Christ.  And a Man rose from the dead.  Dead men don’t rise.  But this Man did, who was crucified and buried, the Man who is God and our Savior, Jesus Christ.  And this turns everything on its head.  Because God died, you who were dead in your trespasses and sins don’t have to suffer the deadly wages you’ve earned.  God died, so you live.  And because the Man, Jesus, rose from the dead, death lays bleeding and dying at the threshold of His empty tomb.  He will raise you from the dead.  Bodily… as He is bodily risen.  And He’ll raise your loved ones who have died in Christ.  In fact, He’ll raise all the dead when He comes to Judge, and all believers will live with Him forever in our bodies on that Day.  For you see, because these two impossible things happened in Holy Week: God died and the Man, Jesus, rose from the dead, there has now come to pass a third impossible thing: Sinners, you, are declared righteous before God.  Your sins are forgiven.  All of them.  Jesus paid for them on the cross.  And God loves you as His own child.  Well, that changes everything, doesn’t it?  Now you live each day from this perspective: Christ Jesus is risen from the dead.  My sins are forgiven.  I have eternal life.  He will raise me from the dead.  There is nothing, finally, that can harm me.  God loves me.  I belong to Him.
            Now, this is impossible to understand, because humanly speaking these things are impossible from the start.  But thanks be to God, faith is not the same thing as understanding.  John does not understand as he stoops there inside the tomb.  But he believes.  Mary does not understand.  She thinks the gardener has taken Him away.  Even when two angels greet her, still she does not get it.  But then Jesus speaks her name, “Mary,” and all at once she believes what she cannot understand.  He is risen, as He said.  She believes and she announces the Good News to the disciples. 
            And you?  You don’t understand this any better than Peter or John or Mary.  But you believe it.  In fact, you believe it because the same thing happened to you that caused Mary to believe.  Jesus spoke your name.  For her, it happened in the garden.  For you, it happened at the font.  There Jesus named you His own, a child of the heavenly Father, and placed the Name of God on you, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  There He washed you and brought you into His fold and inoculated you against death and hell.  For there, His death became your own.  You died with Him in Baptism.  And there, His resurrection became your own.  You have eternal life now, because you are baptized into Christ.  You live with Him and in Him.  Your life is now hidden with Christ in God, and will be revealed in all its fullness on the Last Day.  When you die, your soul will go to heaven to be with Jesus.  And when He comes again and raises the dead, He will raise you in your body.  And you’ll live with Him forever. 

            That is the new reality in the risen Christ.  The Bible calls it the new creation.  “‘Death is swallowed up in victory.’  ‘O death, where is your victory?  O death, where is your sting?’  The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.  But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 15:54-57).  You don’t have to understand it.  But believe it.  For this victory is yours.  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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