He is risen! He is risen indeed! Grace and peace to you from Him who is, and who was, and who is to come, Jesus Christ, our risen Lord! Dear friends in Christ, what a glorious message Easter is! Today there is nothing that could keep you from having joy fill your heart! For we have once again seen our Lord and Savior betrayed into the hands of sinners, lied about, mocked, beaten, caused to suffer, and finally crucified and died. Death seemed to win, the devil thought he was victorious; it seemed we were stuck in our sins. But then Easter Sunday morning the tomb burst forth, it was empty! Jesus rose from the dead! All was not lost, all is gained! Sin, death, hell, and the devil have been defeated once and for all! They have no power! Jesus won the victory! It changes everything. Alleluia!
Imagine being one of those women who went to the tomb. That Sabbath Saturday must have been terribly awful and horrible. Can you imagine anything worse in life than thinking your Messiah, your Savior is…dead? In their consternation all they could think about was finishing the job of giving Jesus a proper burial. So, as soon as the Sabbath day was over they went and bought certain spices in order to anoint Jesus’ DEAD body. Can you picture the scene?
We’re told that they came early in the morning and the sun was just rising. But there was a detail they seemed to have overlooked. The main thing on their minds was, “Who’s going to roll the stone away from the tomb for us.”
Can you picture a more helpless and depressing scene than this? These ladies trudging out to finish the job of burying Jesus, their Lord. Dashed hopes. Broken hearts. Gloom. Sadness. Tears. The gut-wrenching feeling that they were going to have to anoint their dead Messiah. It must have been utterly painful!
But need it to have been? Not if they had trusted His promises. Remember, Jesus had told His followers time and again: I’m going to suffer, die, and on the third day rise again. In the Gospel of Mark we’re told Jesus said that 3 chapters in a row (Mark 8, 9, 10)! The women (and the disciples of all people!) should have been running to the grave Easter Sunday excitedly saying, “This is the day! This is the day! Jesus is coming out of the grave today!” Instead what’s on their minds? Who’s going to roll the stone away for us? What a pitiful scene! Can you imagine their doom and gloom, their fear and sadness?
We can, can’t we? We can because it’s something all too familiar to our lives too, isn’t it? Too easily we fall into feelings of doom and gloom, helplessness and despair. We wonder, “What good does the future hold? What war is going to break out next? What economic disaster is going to happen next? What bad news is the doctor going to tell me next?” So many questions can leave us with fear, fear for the future, fear for ourselves, fear in our lives. But, need there be any of those questions or fears?
You see, as every doctor knows, symptoms are only surface problems, the problems you see and feel, there’s a much deeper problem. It’s the same for us. Fear, doom, gloom, despair are only symptoms of a deeper problem inside of each of us: sin. Specifically, sin that doubts the promises of God. Fear is a lack of trust in the promises of God. Think about it: God has promised to be with you always, He’s promised to watch over and care for you no matter what, He’s promised to always listen to your prayers and answer them in the best way, He’s promised to work all things out for your good, He’s promised to take you to heaven when you die. Now if God has promised to work out all things for your good is there really anything that can happen in your life that is… bad? If God has promised to take you to heaven when you die is there really anything that important in this life? You see, if we focus on God’s promises, our lives will be full of peace, hope, joy, and excitement!
But so often we lose track of God’s promises like these women heading out to the tomb. And soon doom, gloom, sadness, hopelessness, everything’s-lost-attitude fills our heads. But notice what God did here. He sent these angels to the empty tomb with a message: “Don’t be alarmed,’ he said. ‘You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, JUST AS HE TOLD YOU.’” Notice what the angel did? He has risen! Just like He promised! He pointed them right back to Jesus’ promises!
God always keeps His promises, every single one of them, totally and completely. Think about it. Let’s say I told you that in a little while I would be arrested, sentenced to death, and crucified, and on the third day rise again. You’d probably think I was crazy. But, if I did it? Oh! That changes everything! Then are you going to believe everything else I told you? Absolutely! That’s exactly what Jesus did! The very fact that Jesus rose from the dead is proof positive that Jesus keeps EVERY promise that He’s given you! If Jesus rises from the dead, if Jesus keeps that promise, and He did, then is there any other promise that will be too hard for Him to keep? Jesus keeps ALL His promises!! His resurrection proves it!
We need to know this. Jesus’ resurrection is the key truth in Scripture as ultimate proof that your sins are forgiven- every one of them. Easter Sunday is God’s way of saying Good Friday worked, Jesus paid your sins in full. If Jesus didn’t rise we’d be facing an eternity of doom and gloom in hell, but He HAS risen! He is alive!
And think about what this means for all of God’s other promises to you! God has promised to be with you always. Can you count on that? Absolutely! Jesus rose from the dead!
Jesus promises that in baptism you are washed clean of all of your sins. He’s promised that He’s preparing a room for you in heaven. He’s promised to work out all things in your life for your good. He’s promised that when a believer, like you, dies, you’ll be in glory with your Savior. He’s promised that on the Last Day He will raise your body from the dead and you’ll be given a glorious, amazing, new body fit to live in heaven forever. You can absolutely count on all of these promises because Jesus has kept all of his promises and has the power to keep them all- His resurrection proves it!
But notice one more detail. When the women leave the tomb…they’re still afraid! They’ve just been told the Gospel, just been told the truth, the facts…and yet they’re still afraid! Well, we can understand this too, can’t we? We’ve heard the Gospel message before and yet we still experience fear, we’re afraid of this or that, this problem or that uncertainty. We’re afraid of getting sick or ill, a job loss or financial trouble, afraid of the unknown or the uncertain future. What are you afraid of? What fears did you carry with you through that door this morning?
Why were the women afraid when they left the tomb? Because Jesus wasn’t with them yet. So what did Jesus do, we’re told of it in another Gospel, He came to them and appeared to them and calmed their fears. So also He keeps coming to us. He keeps coming to us through His Word and Sacraments to assure us of His promises, His victory, His guidance, His protection in life and death! Whatever may be causing you fear is answered in this: Jesus lives! The big question mark in your life is taken away: Because He lives, you live! The most important thing in all of eternity has been taken care of: He lives, you live! If He’s taken care of the most important thing, He’ll take care of the rest!
Behold the glory of Easter! Jesus died. Now He has risen and will never die again! Your sin is gone! Hell is conquered! Your grave destroyed! Because Jesus got out of His grave, because death could not hold its slimy grip on Jesus, because Jesus’ grave is empty, because Jesus burst forth from that tomb, because Jesus is alive forever and ever, there is no question, no doubt, no uncertainty, no fear: There IS a seat in heaven with YOUR name on it! YOU’RE going to be there one day, because Jesus lives! This is the Gospel! This is your reason for life! This is your joy in death! This is your confidence in life! This is your hope eternally! This is your victory in life and in death! Jesus lives! He is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia! Amen!