Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Lebanon, OR
Easter Sunrise + April 1, 2018
Text: John 20:1-18
Sermon from Rev. David Juhl, adapted
With glad hearts raised to God, we say Alleluia! Christ is risen! He is risen, indeed! Alleluia!
It takes a special breed to be a morning person. Not everyone can get up before the crack of dawn and feel like they have six hours of activity under their belt. Most of us need a cup, or several cups, of coffee, or some other caffeinated beverage to jump start the day.
Saint Peter was a mo(u)rning person. Please spell it with a “u”. He’s up early and running to the tomb because Mary Magdalene has a strange report. The stone is rolled away from Jesus’ tomb. John is running with Peter and gets there first. But Peter goes into the tomb first. It’s a good thing he did.
Peter promised he would stand by our Lord’s side to the end. He didn’t. We all know he denied knowing the Lord three times, just as Jesus told him he would. The last time we heard about Peter, he was running away and weeping bitterly. He did the impossible. He lied about Jesus when he should have told the truth. Instead of preparing to pay the consequences for his allegiance to the teachings and person of Jesus of Nazareth, Peter wimps out, takes what he sees is the easy way out, and sins greatly.
We also take the easy way out every day. Opportunities abound to proclaim your allegiance to Jesus. But we won’t seize the day and speak up. There are times it’s ok to be a Christian, like around other Christians. But then there are those awkward pauses when your faith comes up in conversation with a jaded atheist. There are those silences after someone makes a statement about the value of life, or what they think God is like. We act embarrassed about the whole situation and hope they doesn’t notice that we are a Christian.
Churches this day are packed of full and part-time Christians. Easter is one of those “can’t miss” holidays where everyone puts on their finest, gets up before dawn, and runs to church to hear the familiar account of an empty tomb, a weeping woman, and a case of mistaken identity. The sorrow of Friday turns to joy today.
But when you walk out those doors, it will be business as usual. You won’t remember why Jesus rises from dead, let alone dies for your sins. Easter is just another Sunday among other Sundays of the year. Why this forgetfulness? There’s just too much sorrow and sadness in your life for the Resurrection to matter. Knowing that your Redeemer lives gives comfort, but it doesn’t pay the mortgage. Hearts waking with gladness to see what the Savior has done won’t fix a broken marriage. Good Christian friends rejoicing and singing will go on fighting and not speaking to each other once they leave this building.
All of us are mo(u)rning persons, or should be. Jesus Christ gives up His life so you may not die. Jesus rests in the tomb on the Passover Sabbath so you may rest in His Word and Sacrament every Lord’s Day. Beloved, count the cost of the Resurrection and what might have been, had our Savior not been born according to the flesh. Today would be just another Sunday. Tomorrow would leave us all, according to Tennessee Ernie Ford, “another day older/ and deeper in debt”.
Today Jesus removes the “u”. Today Jesus makes us morning persons. Spell it now without the “u”. “Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.” (Ps. 30:5) Sorrow is gone with the night. Morning has broken. So has the seal on our Lord’s tomb. So has the power of sin, death, and hell. Satan cannot stand the sight of the sun rising over Jerusalem, much less every place that Christians gather this Resurrection morn. He knows it’s another day closer to the ultimate sentence of residence in the lake of fire.
Today Jesus Christ ensures you, who trust in Him as your Redeemer, will miss the lake of fire. Today death is a thing of the past. Jesus is alive. So are you. Even if you can’t see it, believe the Word of the Lord:
“3Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. 5For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. 7For one who has died has been set free from sin. 8Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 6:3–11)
You are baptized into Christ. You are washed clean from the stain of sin. The Word of God does not lie. Appearances may deceive, Satan tempts us, people disappoint us. But the Word of the Lord endures forever.
What can death do to you now that our Lord has conquered it? Death is nothing. Life is everything. Satan is nothing. Jesus is everything. Sin is nothing. Grace is everything. “9Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us. This is the Lord; we have waited for him; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.” (Isaiah 25:9)
Rejoice in your God. Today Jesus makes you are a morning person. Because He lives, you also shall live and reign with Him to all eternity.
Allelulia! Christ is risen! (He is risen indeed! Alleluia) Amen.