Easter Day 2018
Easter Drives out Fear! – Matthew 28:5-10
What is it that makes you afraid? We live in an uncertain life. Any day something could happen to any of us that would completely change everything, something could happen that could completely disrupt our lives, what is it that makes you afraid?
Here we are told about some women and they were afraid. Think about what they afraid of. Were they afraid that everything that they thought about Jesus was totally wrong? Were they afraid that they made a mistake thinking he was the Savior, because now he’s dead? They were afraid Jesus didn’t get a proper burial. They were afraid that the stone was too big to roll away. And then they’re afraid because there are angels at the tomb. All kinds of fears.
And then the angel speaks to them and now they have something else to fear, “Jesus is risen…just like he said.” Oh yeah! Jesus had told them that he was going to rise from the dead…but they hadn’t listened, they were there to bury a dead Savior! They hadn’t trusted him! So now they have something else to fear- would Jesus still love them? Would Jesus still want them to be his followers?
And that’s what makes the words of both the angel and Jesus so beautiful! “Do not be afraid.” In fact, you could translate this, “Stop being afraid and never be afraid again.” Why? Because Jesus is alive. Because Jesus rose from the dead!
See how Jesus’ resurrection reverses all fears: Is it loneliness? Jesus’ resurrection assures you of Jesus’ presence now and Jesus’ presence forever in paradise. Is it pain or sickness or some other health problem? Jesus’ resurrection assures you that He will raise your body to a new, glorified body which you’ll enjoy… 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 you’re forgiven. 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!
You see, Jesus’ resurrection means you never have to be afraid again! Amen.
Easter Guarantees that God’s Word is True – John 2:19-22
We live in a very skeptical society, don’t we? News that’s too good to be true, probably is too good to be true. I don’t know about you but sometimes I like to check my spam email folder just to make sure nothing important slipped in there and you know what’s in there? “You’ve won 5 million dollars! Your long lost relative left you 10,000 dollars. Bill Gates is giving his money away sign up for your share here.” Just ridiculous. Many advertisements work the same way, “You’ve won whatever, come in to claim your prize.” We’ve grown quite skeptical of good news, haven’t we?
But has that transferred over to what God tells us? Are we doubtful and skeptical of what God tells us in the Bible? Are we leery about his promises to us? Not quite sure if He will really keep His Word to us?
The disciples weren’t always sure. Think about it. What if I told you that this Friday before we move, the Bemidji police are going to arrest me, they won’t find any reason to convict me, but I’ll be sentenced to death anyway, they’re going to beat me up, and then crucify me, then on the third day, I’m going to rise from the dead. What would you honestly think if I told you that? You’d think I was crazy, in fact, you might want me to have a psychological exam.
But what if it happened…just like I said! What if everything I told you came true just like I promised! Then what? That would change everything, right? Would you be more inclined to believe everything else I told you as well? I think so!
That’s what Jesus did! The very fact that Jesus rose from the dead is proof positive that Jesus keeps every promise. 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’ resurrection proves that your sins are forgiven- it’s God’s way of saying that Good Friday worked, Jesus paid for your sins in full. He kept that promise and what about all the other promises? Jesus promises that He is with you always, He’s promised that in Baptism all your sins are washed away, He’s promised that he’s preparing a room for you in heaven, he’s promised that he will work all things out for your good, He’s promised that when a believer, like you, dies that you’ll be in glory with him, He’s promised that on the Last day he will raise your body from the dead and you’ll be given a new and glorious body fit to live forever in heaven. Can you count on those promises? Yes! Because Jesus HAS kept all His promise and has the power to continue to keep all of his promises – His resurrection proves it! Amen.
Easter is the Ultimate proof of victory – 1 Corinthians 15:55-57
Imagine the disciples on that Saturday before Easter. Can you imagine? Think about what might have been going through their minds- “Jesus is dead, he seemed so powerless, couldn’t he have stopped it if he wanted? We thought he was going to be the Savior. We thought he was going to be president and we’d be in his cabinet, but now he’s dead. Did we just waste these past 3 years of our lives? And worst of all…our Savior is dead.”
Do you think they felt like losers? I’m thinking so. Have you ever been there? So many things can go wrong in life – you can get sick, you can lose your job, you can lose your money, you can lose family and friends, you can lose your reputation – so many things in life can go wrong and it can leave you feeling like a big loser. Worries, doubts, wonderings, failures and Satan is right there to point his finger and say, “Loser.”
But did you see what verse 57 says? “Thanks be to God! He gives us the victory though our Lord Jesus Christ.” God has given you the victory- and if it’s GOD who has given you the victory, then you’re a winner!
You see, there the disciples were lost and confused on Easter Saturday, but need they been? Not at all! Easter Sunday clarifies things. Jesus isn’t dead, He’s alive! That means He kept every promise, He didn’t lose, He won! He is the Savior!
And that’s true for you and me as well! You see, the Greek word used here for “He gives us the victory” is a present tense, it means He keeps on giving us the victory. It’s an ongoing thing! Think about it, will there ever, ever, ever be a day when Jesus is less risen from the dead? “Well, no, pastor.” Well, then, will there ever be a day when your sins are less forgiven by God, when you’re less loved by God, when you’re less guaranteed eternal life in heaven? Not at all!
Because of Jesus’ resurrection, whether you have a lot of money or no money- you have treasure in heaven where moth and rust cannot destroy worth infinitely more than all the wealth in the whole world! Because of Jesus’ resurrection whether you’re fighting sickness or are disabled or some other health issue, in heaven you’ll have a new and glorified body that will never get old or be subject to suffering. Because of Jesus’ resurrection loved ones who’ve died in the Lord are not gone, we will see them again! Jesus’ resurrection turns every loss in life to eternal gain!
And how does God assure you of the victory? Through His Word and through His sacraments. Every time you hear the Word the Holy Spirit is at work assuring you that you have the victory. So, And so my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm! Let nothing move you! Always give yourself fully to the work of the Lord, for your labor in the Lord is not in vain!