He is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia! Grace, mercy, and peace are yours from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! In the name of our Risen Lord Jesus, dear friends in Christ,
We all have expectations, don’t we? You drive directly east from here and you expect to find Lake Bemidji. You expect to find the winters in Minnesota to be rather cold. You came to church this morning expecting some joyous and uplifting worship. But what do you expect from Easter? There are really only two options: either you expect a dead savior or a Living Savior. But what you find on Easter has huge ramifications not just for your life but for your eternity.
Now the gospel of Luke was likely written around 30-40 years after the events of Jesus’ life. Now, let’s do a little thought experiment. Let’s say that someone comes out with a new book this year, 2017, claiming that 37 years ago, in the year 1980, Abraham Lincoln came alive taught a bunch of people, showed himself to be alive over a period of 40 days, talked with dozens of people, lists their names, and even says that he appeared to over 500 people at one time, most of whom are still alive. And this all happened in Park Rapids. Now, this is very verifiable. How would you find out if that was true? You’d go to Park Rapids, you’d talk to the people there, you’d interview the people named in the book. You’d find out whether the book was relating facts or if the book was just a bunch of make believe. But if it’s made up, I’ll tell you this, it will not become the most widespread, best-selling book for 2,000 years! Thousands and thousands of people will not stake their very life on that fact unless it is absolutely true. The book, if it wasn’t true, would go nowhere. Now, what do we have in the Bible- the books in the New Testament were written 20, 30, 40 years after the Resurrection and read by thousands upon thousands of people. If there wasn’t an empty tomb, if there weren’t hundreds of eyewitnesses who truly saw Jesus risen from the dead, would there really be thousands upon thousands of people who read these accounts and said, “I’m going to give my life to this, I’m going to die for this.” Thousands and thousands of people did.
You see, what we have in Easter is a fact, a reality: Jesus really physically, bodily rose from the dead. You can deny it, say it didn’t happen, not believe it, but that doesn’t change the fact in the least bit: Easter really, truly did happen. What do you expect to get out of Easter?
Here in our text we have an account of a group of ladies who weren’t expecting it, didn’t expect that Jesus rose from the dead. They’re heading out to the tomb to finish burying a dead Savior. Can you think of anything more sad, more pitiful, more heart-breaking, than having a dead Savior? Think about what the implications would be if Jesus didn’t rise from the dead:
First, we would still be stuck in our sins. 1 Corinthians says, “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.” A dead savior is a dead deception. We’d still be stuck and trapped in our sins and facing the punishment of our sins which is death. Second, if Christ did not rise from the dead, then everyone who dies is lost. Then death itself is the end, funerals are hopeless, and all that’s left is a frightening thought of eternity. And lastly, if Christ did not rise from the dead we would have absolutely no hope for this life either. That would make all of this meaningless, all of life meaningless and hopeless. Our lives would be a constant searching, a constant longing for something more, a constant yearning to find meaning out of the meaningless. A constant looking to earthly things- stuff, relationships, more experiences, for meaning but they never satisfy. Almost like looking for the living among the dead.
There is only one place where our accusing consciences are answered, where death is defeated, and where meaning in life is found. These women found it. The angels proclaimed it: He is not here, He has risen! Jesus truly, physically, bodily, in reality rose from the dead. You know what that means? Notice what the angel says, “The Son of Man must…be crucified.” We were so sinful that Jesus HAD to die. But think about what that means: Jesus was willing to lose the universe rather than lose you, He was willing to lose His Father than lose you, He was willing to be cut off and suffer hell than lose you. Jesus was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification. In other words, Easter is God’s declaration that our sins are forgiven. Turn to His Resurrection seals and guarantees your forgiveness!
And what about death? Death has been defeated! Jesus, by His resurrection from the dead, holds death’s keys and has turned death for a Christian into a sleep- a sleep where we go to sleep here and wake up with our Savior in heaven. Because Jesus lives He is the Resurrection and the Life and all who believe in him really don’t die, they live with him here and go on living with him in heaven forever! Turn to Jesus, His resurrection guarantees your resurrection!
And what about life? Do you know that there will never, ever be a day in your life that Jesus is less risen from the dead? Jesus won the victory! He’s alive. That means there will never be a day when your sins are less forgiven, when death is any less already defeated, when you are any less on your way to eternal life in heaven! Turn to Jesus, His life is your life!
So what are you expecting to get out of Easter today? That depends on what you believe about the reality of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. If the forgiveness of sins isn’t that big of a deal to you, if victory over death isn’t that important to you, then all Easter is is a bunny, some candy, a ham, and a good nap. All life, then, has absolutely no meaning. But if Christ walked out of that tomb- truly, bodily, powerfully – He can’t be just a footnote in your life, just another book on your shelf, just another hobby – He’s everything. If Jesus is alive, and He is, you have every reason to worship Him as often as you can. If Jesus is alive, and He is, today means Jesus is alive and will never die again. You are redeemed, you are reconciled, your sin is gone, hell is conquered your grave destroyed, heaven is your home! It’s true. Believe, Treasure it, live it. He is risen, He is risen indeed, Alleluia! Amen.