He is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia! Grace and peace to you from Him who is and who was and who is to come, our risen Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, dear friends in Christ,
What is it for you? Spiders, snakes, heights, public speaking. Or is it some kind of loss, or embarrassment, or feeling like a failure, loneliness, losing your health, pain, death. What scares you? Our lives are really full of things that can cause fear, aren’t they? There’s a predominant theme in this text, isn’t there? And it’s fear.
The Sabbath day ended about 6 pm on Saturday and these women went to buy spices to finish anointing Jesus’ body. Why? Well, in a way, they were afraid. They were afraid that Jesus didn’t get a proper funeral. So, early Sunday morning, probably just before sunrise, they’re off to finish the job. So intent were they, so focused on their love for Jesus even in death, that they’d forgotten an important point, the stone. “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?” It’s a stone that took at least two men to roll in place, now it’s in a groove and so even more difficult to roll back, so now they have something else to fear. Can you think of anything more pitiful? They walk out to the tomb and what’s on their minds? Their Savior is dead, they want to finish burying His dead body, and there’s a stone in the way.
But need they have been? Really all their spices were a big waste of money and all their worries were a big waste of time! It was all unnecessary. Spices and a rock were their perceived problems, but not their real problem. Their real problem was that they weren’t really trusting Jesus. A further burial and a rock were not issues for Him. And isn’t that true? Most of our fears in life really boil down to two things. A.) Not believing God is really God or God has the power as God and/or B.) not believing God loves us dearly. If we really believed those things, nothing would really scare us.
Look at how God deals with them through the angel: “Don’t be alarmed, you are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him.” Modern science can do some great things- people who’ve lost their sight can have sight restored, through extensive rehabilitation the lame can sometimes learn to walk. But no one will claim that modern science can restore a dead human body to life. Every person will admit that that’s something only God can do. The fact that Jesus raised Himself back to life unequivocally proves that He is God. And so, as God, He can do anything, He can even reverse what we would normally consider irreversible.
And that’s what makes what else the angel announced so cool. “But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’” Notice what the angel said? “And Peter.” Why “and Peter”? Why not just “his disciples.” If it was just “his disciples” Peter could easily conclude, that doesn’t include him. Not after what He had done. Remember, Peter had not only deserted Jesus but denied even knowing Jesus with oaths and curses! We might think, “How could he?” But, really, how could we? No, maybe we haven’t denied Jesus outright like Peter, but every time we’ve sinned, every time we’ve doubted God or His Word, every time we’ve been afraid or scared, not perfectly trusted in God, we’ve been like Peter, we’ve denied our Lord.
But that’s what’s so beautiful about this! “And Peter.” You see, the gospel is based on God’s undeserved love for us, NOT on what we’ve done or failed to do. You see, through the Gospel God stops being boss and becomes our loving Father. If you fail your boss, you get fired. But if you fail a loving father, he actually loves you…more! That’s what Jesus is doing here with Peter, even though he’s failed, Jesus is loving him more. And who is it who really gets grace? Isn’t it someone who knows how awfully they’ve failed and messed up AND how awesome a Substitute and Savior Jesus is? And so our failures actually drive us further into the arms of our loving Father. God reverses the irreversible, He takes us failures and He turns us into His loved children. The resurrection proves it! For the resurrection proves God not only loved us enough to die for us, but to come back to life to prove that our sins ARE forgiven once and for all. It was true for Peter, it’s true for you and me.
The resurrection proves without a doubt that Jesus is God and Lord – He rose from the dead! And if Jesus is really Lord, then He is Lord over all the earth, that means He is alive and well today, tomorrow, the next day and forever. That means He’s sitting on His throne in all glory and honor and might governing the whole world right down to your life. Jesus is Lord even over the scariest things you will ever face in life.
AND, because Jesus died and rose for you He has brought you in a relationship with God as your gracious, loving Father. For the resurrection is God’s way of telling you that Good Friday worked, that your sins are paid, you are forgiven and heaven is your home. The resurrection proves Jesus’ power and proves Jesus’ love for you, and with that, what else is there to fear?
What fears did you have walking through that door this morning? See how Jesus’ resurrection reverses all your fears: Is it loneliness? Jesus’ resurrection assures you of Jesus’ presence now and Jesus’ presence forever in paradise. What is it pain or sickness or losing your mobility? Jesus’ resurrection assures you that He will raise your body to new, glorified body which you’ll enjoy and dance in… eternally! Is it past sins, hurts, failures? Jesus’ resurrection is God’s way of telling you that Jesus’ payment for sins – all sins and Peter’s and yours- was complete, Jesus’ death paid for your sins in full, for Jesus was raised to life to prove it. Is it an uncertain future? Jesus’ resurrection proves that Jesus is God and has the power to do anything and so He has and will work out all things, as His promise, for your good. What about that thing that everyone will at some point face, death? Jesus’ resurrection proves that Jesus has conquered death and turned death for you into the door way to eternal life!
Today, listen to the angels, “Do not be alarmed! Do not be afraid!” Jesus died. Now he has risen and will never die again! We are redeemed! We are reconciled! Our sin is gone! Hell is conquered! Your grave destroyed! Heaven is your home! He is risen He is risen indeed, Alleluia! Amen.