Resurrection of Our Lord (Matthew 28:1-10)

Alleluia! Christ is risen!  Good news beyond comprehension. That’s what Jesus’ resurrection was.  Mary of Magdala and Mary, the mother of James, go to the tomb after resting on the Sabbath.  They come with burial spices to complete what was taken care of with haste as the sun set on Friday.  It wasn’t fitting that their beloved Teacher not be given the honor of a reverent burial and His followers given the dignity of mourning.  But there were the authorities, the seal on the tomb, and the guard posted. What else could they do?

But then something happened which neither of them saw coming: a great earthquake shook the ground and an angel appeared to roll back the stone.  In fear, the Roman soldiers became like dead men, and it was such a fearful sight that the women also needed to be told twice, “Do not be afraid!”

Everything stood against this being possible—the rejection by the highest authorities, the corruption of justice under Gentile dogs, the scourging, the jeering at the cross, how he was marred beyond human semblance as he could barely cry out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Ps. 22:1), and how He breathed His last and was laid into a tomb.  Earthly rulers, natural law, and experience all told the story that death and evil had won the day as Jesus was laid into the tomb. 

It’s such surpassingly good news that it needs to be told very simply and repeatedly.  In short sentences, the Angel delivers the message: “I know you seek Jesus the Crucified One. He is not here. He has risen as He said.  Come, see the place where He lay. And go quickly, say to his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead.’ And behold, He goes ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.”  Short but true messages, “See, I have told you.”  And they do go, filled with fear and great joy.

It takes a while for this incomprehensible news to sink in, until they meet Jesus face-to-face on the way.  Then they can see with their own eyes, and hold Him with their own hands.  This is most certainly true.  This is not a myth to be handed down and closely guarded lest the world find out it was actually just a fable (Mt. 28:11-15).

God does not lie.  Everyone else may be questionable, but not God or His messengers.  With Him, you don’t need to worry if He is only telling you the part of the story He wants you to know.  He deals with us honestly and in love.  Unlike the news media, with God you don’t have to wonder about bias of the author or if outside interests are directing what He says.  When He grants “all authority in heaven and on earth” (Mt. 28:18) to His Son, you don’t need to wonder if this is overreach or a plot to grab power while people are vulnerable.  God does not lie, nor does He commit evil.

So, revel in this good news: Death has been beaten!  Sin has been put away!  There is peace with God through the risen Jesus Christ.  “Set your minds on” (Col. 3:2) this fact, when you hear news of rising death tolls.  Life and death are fully in God’s hands, and for all who belong to the Risen Christ death is no more than departing the toils of this world.   Remember God’s angel who said: “He has been raised from the dead” when you hear of the frantic search for a vaccine, that God has the antidote for death itself in His Son!  When you worry what earthly leaders will do that impacts our ability to gather for worship, remember the seal and the watch which could not keep the disciples out, and remember our Lord’s own words: “You would have no authority over me unless it had been given you from above.” (John 19:11)   And finally, when you encounter those who, out of fear, are acting obnoxiously, set before your eyes the blood of Jesus, the blood of the covenant which was shed for the sins of all, which cries out, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Lk. 23:34)

This good news beyond comprehension is true, even on Easter 2020, when the Church on earth was scattered.  Yet she is forever one in her Lord, who has triumphed forever over sin, death, and all the powers of evil. Amen.

The Resurrection of Our Lord (Matthew 28:1-10)

Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Lebanon, OR
The Resurrection of Our Lord + April 16, 2017
Text: Matthew 28:1-10

Alleluia! Christ is risen!
He is risen indeed! Alleluia!
Mary and the other Mary were at the tomb first.  They saw the angel and heard his words.  But the other disciples didn’t.  We make a big deal of differences and turn it into division.
This world is full of division right now.  Conflict in the Pacific, conflict in the Middle East, conflict in between states and Washington, DC, and conflict between Americans.  Political parties, income level, questions of ethics, and even personal preferences have become battle flags to be waved at one another.
The Christian Church is no exception, because it’s also made of people.  How long have you been a Christian?  What church do you belong to?  Traditional or contemporary?
What our human race needs is some unity.
On Good Friday and the Resurrection of Jesus, God brought about a lasting unity.  In those events, He showed what our human race really has in common—sin and death.  This common disease and enemy afflicts us all.  “They are corrupt,” the Lord declares, “They do abominable deeds; there is none who does good.  The Lord looks down from heaven on the children of man, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God.  They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one.” (Psalm 14:1-3)
So, God, in His mercy and faithfulness sent Jesus to be the Savior for all:
12 Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned…15 But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. (Romans 5:12, 15)
There is one Jesus for all, because all of us have the same ancestry.  With that ancestry came sin and death.  Something every one of us has known is the effects of sin and death on ourselves and the world—and we cannot free ourselves from its power!
All of the struggles over money and power, the men and women lost in war, property destroyed in a vie for supremacy.  This is the work of man, which brings only death and division.  But God on the cross made peace.
He doesn’t make one sacrifice for Jews, another for Gentiles; one Savior for men another for women; a black Jesus and a white Jesus.  There is Savior for all mankind, for the people of every nation, tribe, and language.
14For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.” (Ephesians 2:14-16)
So through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, God has shown His love to all people.  As Jesus said beforehand, “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” (John 12:32)
Now God has made peace and removed the hostility between heaven and earth.  Now the only division that is left is between faith and unbelief.  Yet by the power of His Holy Spirit, He brings near even those who are far off that they might know salvation and peace in Jesus Christ (Acts 2:38-39).  God give you that peace this Resurrection Day!  Amen.