The Resurrection of Our Lord - St. Mark 16:1-8 - March 27, 2016

Order of Holy Communion - Pg. 15
Hymn #200 I Know That My Redeemer Lives
Hymn #192 Awake My Heart With Gladness
Hymn #191 Christ the Lord is Risen Today; Alleluia!
Isaiah 52:13-15
1 Corinthians 5:6-8
St. Mark 16:1-8
Collect for the Feast of the Resurrection of Our Lord
Grant, we beseech Thee, Almighty God, that we who celebrate the solemnities of the Lord’s Resurrection may by the renewal of Thy Holy Spirit rise again from the death of the soul; through the same Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

Sermon on the Holy Gospel

Christ is risen! He is risen, indeed! Alleluia!

Grace and peace be unto you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

1)         Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bring spices to the tomb where Jesus was laid in haste after His death. These devout women want to show one last act of reverence and love for their dead Lord. The door of the tomb had been covered with a stone too large for the women to move. St. Matthew tells us that the stone had also been sealed by the Jews so as to prevent the disciples from whisking the body of Jesus away. A new concern replaces their worry about the stone when they arrive to see that the stone had been rolled away already. Entering the tomb “they saw a young man clothed in a long white robe sitting on the right side.” St. Mark writes, “They were alarmed.” Of course they were alarmed. On the right hand side of the burial slab sits this young man arrayed in white. These grieving women enter the house of death and surprised by life. It is almost as if this young man, this angel, had been waiting for them. He is there to interpret the empty tomb to them, to explain to them exactly what it means. An empty tomb could have meant many things. It could be explained away by human reason. It could be interpreted as a stolen body, a moved corpse, or a just a case of mistaken burial location.

2)         So the young man dressed in a long white robe tells them exactly what this open tomb and empty slab means. “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He is risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid Him.” The angel confirms what these women have already seen but still wondered about. He is not there. His body has not been burgled. He is risen. Jesus is alive. Nailed to the wood of the cross on Friday afternoon, dead and buried, laid on the very slab on which this young man sits, before evening of that day, Jesus is now alive. These women are given the great honor of being the first witnesses to resurrection and the first evangelists, for they are told “Go, tell His disciples – and Peter – that He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him, as He said to you.” The women flee the tomb, trembling with amazement and astonishment, “for they were afraid.” And who can blame them. It is not every day that the dead rise. But this day is different. “The is the day the Lord has made.”

3)         Jesus is alive. This is good news. This is the best of news for these women, for the disciples, and for all humanity. Jesus’ resurrection means that God the Father has accepted God the Son’s sacrifice upon the cross as payment for the sins of all mankind. Christ cannot be bound in death’s prison because He Himself is perfectly righteous. He has no sin of His of own. If the wages of sin is dead, death has no claim on Jesus since He never sinned. This is what St. Paul means in 1 Timothy 3:16 when He writes that, “God was manifested in the flesh, Justified in the Spirit.” Jesus was God revealed in human flesh. Christ was justified in the spirit at His resurrection, meaning that God declared Him to be righteous by His own merit! Christ is raised from the dead as a sign unto the entire world that He was truly the Son of God who had come into the world. The resurrection means that that His doctrine alone was true. The resurrection means that His sacrificial death truly and completely paid for our sins. But this atonement is not limited to those who would believe, for St. John writes that He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world” (1 John 2:2). Christ makes satisfaction for all sins. He endures the full wrath of God against sinners upon the cross. The Father “made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21). That Jesus is alive means that Christ has atoned for all the world’s sins, for each and every individual’s sins, so that all who believe the gospel that in Christ we have a reconciled God, is justified, not by His own merit and worthiness, but by Christ’s perfect righteousness, because faith, not works, is counted as righteousness in God’s sight.

4)         Jesus is alive. Not only does this mean that God the Father has accepted Christ’s sacrifice for our sins, but it means that death’s power is broken for all who believe the gospel. Death entered the world through our father Adam. In the beginning, the Lord gave every tree in paradise to Adam as food, save one. That was the tree of which the Lord said, “In the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Genesis 2:17). When Eve took and ate, and gave to her husband to take and eat, sin entered the world, and with it, the wages of sins, which is death. And although Adam went on to live to the ripe old age of 930 years, Moses is quite clear in Genesis 5:5 that in his 930th year, “He died.” Physical death is often called nature’s debt. In reality it is sin’s debt that Adam paid, and that each and every one of His descendants paid, except two, Enoch and Elijah, and those were extraordinary cases. St. Paul writes in Romans 5:15 that “by the one man's offense many died.” So throughout the generations descended from Adam in Genesis 5, the refrain “and he died,” becomes a monotonous reminder that all who are in Adam by birth will face physical death. For the Scriptures teach that all people born of Adam’s line are conceived and born in sin. Death is the fate of all, because all are sinners, because we are grafted into Adam by physical descent. We are, by birth, “in Adam.” We are reminded of this every time we are confronted with our sins in the Ten Commandments, every time the Holy Ghost convicts us of sins in our heart, and every day as we see that “the good that we desire to do, we do not do; but the evil we will not to do, that we practice” (Romans 7:19). St. Paul calls his body “this body of death” (Romans 7:24) because that is where his own sin leads him, into death. What was true for St. Paul is true for all men.

5)         But Christ, who dies as the only man righteous by His own merit and sinlessness, breaks death’s prison. By rising from the grave, Jesus destroys the power that death has to terrify men’s consciences. St. Paul writes in Romans 4:24-25, “It shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification.” Christ is delivered up for our offenses. He is betrayed into the hands of wicked men so that He might die as the atoning sacrifice for sin. He is raised to new life on the third day for our justification, meaning that He now lives to justify all who believe in Him, all who trust the promise of the gospel, all who flee to Him for the forgiveness of their sins. Being justified by faith alone and not by our works, our own merits, or our own imagined goodness and righteousness, death need not terrify our consciences. All men die because all are “in Adam” by birth. But everyone who believes the promise of the gospel is counted as righteousness by God the Father, for faith puts a person “in Christ.” Being “in Christ” means not only that our sins are forgiven before God in heaven, but we share in all the blessings Christ wins for us, including the gift of the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting. Jesus tells Martha, mourning at her brother Lazarus’ tomb, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die.” (John 11:25-26). So all who believe and are baptized shall be saved from sin and from death. Faith in the promise of the gospel makes physical death into the door that leads into everlasting life. Though you die physically, you shall yet live with Christ in paradise. Whoever believes in Christ will never truly die by suffering the second death, the pangs of eternal damnation in Hell.

6)         Jesus lives. He lives to justify sinners who repent of their sins and believe the gospel that Christ has won the forgiveness of all your sins, and that He wants to forgive the sins of all who flee to Him for refuge. The angel, sitting on the right side of the burial slab, told the women on that first Easter, Go, tell His disciples – and Peter – that He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him, as He said to you.” Jesus wants His good news to be broadcast to the world. He wants the news of His resurrection to comfort His mourning disciples. So the angel sends the women to disciples with the news of Christ’s resurrection. We see in this command Christ’s desire to forgive everyone who mourns over their sins. For the angel says, “Go, tell His disciples – and Peter.” The eleven disciples that remained had all fled from Jesus in Gethsemane. Each of them had abandoned Christ in His hour of need. They all needed the forgiveness of their sins for this sin and for so many others. But Peter is singled out for His comfort and for ours. Peter had vociferously denied Jesus three times on the night in which He was betrayed. At the moment the cock crowed, Peter remembered the words of Jesus and immediately went from that place, weeping bitterly over His sin. Peter was truly penitent for his denial of His Lord and friend Jesus. So the angel, speaking the word of the Lord, singles out Peter so that Peter would not shy away from the risen Jesus, but would seek Him out in trust that Jesus now lives to forgive sins, to apply the blessings won on the cross to sinners, even sinners like Peter who publically deny their Lord and bring shame upon the gospel.

7)         By this, Jesus wants to comfort all who mourn over their sin. There is no sin so terrible that Jesus will look the other way in disgust. There is no sin so grievous that will cause Jesus to retain that sin and cast you into Hell for it. There is no sin so awful, so dark, so menacing, that it cannot be forgiven. Jesus is alive. He lives to forgive the worst of sinners. He lives to justify sinners, declaring them righteous with His own righteousness, whenever they repent of their sin and believe the gospel. He lives to strengthen and uphold His saints, who are still sinners, with the word of the holy gospel each day of their lives. He lives to bring you through the hour of death so that, in death, you enter into paradise with Him. He lives so that He can do all this for all who believe the promise of the gospel, who believe that God is merciful to those who seek Him in Christ crucified, died, buried, and resurrected for the sins of the world. Amen.

Christ is risen! He is risen, indeed! Alleluia!

May the peace of God which passes all human understanding, guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.

Rev. Josh Sullivan (ELDONA)
Holy Cross Lutheran Church (UAC)
Kerrville, TX 78028

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