O give thanks unto the Lord for He is good, His mercy endures forever (1 Chr 16:34). Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church - Winnipeg, MB
You shall have no other gods
You shall have no other gods
Based on Mark 16:1-8
Preached on April 1, 2018
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In the Name of Jesus. Amen.
He raised the widow’s son at Nain. He raised Jairus’ daughter. In fact, Jesus brought the house down with laughter when He said: “She’s not dead – just taking a little nap!” He audaciously and categorically promised Martha: “I am the Resurrection and the Life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in Me will never die,” (John 11:25). He walked to His best friend’s grave and barked out these orders to the already decomposing remains: “Lazarus, come on out!” And he did! Grave clothes and all! But all these people eventually died again.
Now Jesus is dead! Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Salome are off to the tomb. You go to the cemetery to pay your respects to the DEAD! The Lord who preached, “I am the Resurrection and the Life” is graveyard dead!
Can’t get any deader! Joseph of Arimathea wrapped up the dead body and then laid it in the tomb! The least you can do is anoint the corpse with spices. So it’s off to the grave “when the Sabbath was over” to pay their respects to the dead – the dead and buried Jesus!
What’s this? Oh, my …! The tomb … is open! The large, heavy sealed tombstone has been moved! Oh no! It can’t be! But it sure looks like it! That’s the only explanation! A tomb invasion! A break in! Trespassers have violated the tomb! No doubt, they have desecrated and profaned the Lord’s body! He had many enemies! Wasn’t it enough to viciously murder Him? Can’t they leave Him alone even in death? Do we even dare to look?
They do. They step in to the tomb. Someone’s there! The trespasser is still here!
No - He’s no intruder. No desecrator of the grave! He’s a holy angel! Strange! Very strange! You don’t see angels every day. But we did see them at the Annunciation and at Jesus’ birth, after His temptation in the wilderness, and while He prayed in the Garden! Now here too! You’d be alarmed too! Angels are mighty creatures. Every time someone in the Bible sees an angel he is scared stiff!
“Ladies, no need to be frightened! I won’t hurt you,” the angel proclaims. “Looking for the corpse, ladies? The body of Jesus? Jesus from Nazareth? Well, are you? You are, aren’t you? Well, then I’ve got great news for you! Get a load of this, ladies! GRAVE EMPTY! TAKE A LOOK! SEE WHERE JOSEPH LAID THE BODY! IT IS GONE! NO LONGER HERE! HERE’S WHY! JESUS THE CRUCIFIED, DEAD AND BURIED RIGHT HERE IN THIS TOMB HAS RISEN! RISEN FROM THE DEAD!”
This is the game changer! The salvation game changer! The cross is not emptied of its power because He rose! You are no longer in your sins because He rose! You’re faith in Him is not in vain!
Why? Because He did it! Did exactly what He said He would do! In every detail! Betrayed. Condemned to death. Mocked. Spit on. Flogged. Killed. Then the clincher: AND THREE DAYS LATER HE PHYSICALLY ROSE FROM THE GRAVE! Awakened from the dead! Shed the burial clothes! Folded them up and placed them here as He left the cemetery! Never to return! Never to die again! No one else has ever done this! Muhammad didn’t! Buddha didn’t! Not Joseph Smith! No one! These dead and decayed bodies still remain in their graves! But not Jesus! I will trust Him! You can trust Jesus! He does what He says! Does what He promises! He rose!
Many saw Jesus! He really did come out the grave! When St. Paul wrote his first letter to the Corinthians he gives evidence of this fact with witnesses. The resurrected Jesus, he writes, “appeared to Peter and then to the Twelve … he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to [His half-brother] James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.” It is true! We have witnesses! His grave is empty! Hundreds saw Him!
Jesus did what He promised! Therefore -- HE IS WHO HE SAYS HE IS! Who St. Mark and the centurion at the foot of the cross confess: THE SON OF GOD (Mark 1:1; 15:39)! I.E. God in the flesh! Son of God Jesus for you! “WHO DIED FOR YOUR SINS!”
Yeah - you’d be full of awe and fear too! In the First Commandment way, that is! Fearing, loving, and trusting in Jesus above all things! This is always what happens when Jesus does His salvation stuff in the Gospel according to St. Mark! He awed and overwhelmed folks when He taught from the Word and then cast out demons on the authority of His word (Mark 1:21-22, 27). When He calmed the storm and walked on the sea the disciples were “terrified,” “amazed,” and “asked each other, ‘Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey Him!’” When Jesus absolved and healed a paralytic the citizens of Capernaum were “amazed” and “praised God” proclaiming, “We have never seen anything like this!” The snickers turned to absolute astonishment when Jesus raised Jairus’ dead daughter with only a command, “Talitha koum,”! Noisy Peter was left completely speechless – petrified into silence -- at the sight of Mount Transfiguration Jesus! As Jesus led the way to Jerusalem without hesitation for the last week of His life, the disciples were astonished and the others who followed were frightened!
So too here at the empty tomb! First Commandment fear and awe! With even greater intensity! It is absolutely incredible! Another miracle! He did it! He did what He said He would do! HE ROSE FROM THE DEAD! These shaking in their boots women now know what every disciple of the Risen Lord Jesus comes to know – that in Jesus the Son of God - all divine power and mercy is present! For the crucified and risen Jesus is God Himself!
His resurrection means that Jesus is God … FOR SINNERS! Every one of them! Including Peter – one of the worst. Denied Jesus. Wouldn’t be seen with Him in His greatest need! Oh, Peter! He failed so badly. He wouldn’t fear, love and trust in Jesus above all things! But Jesus died and rose for Peter! Jesus wants to tell Peter that He still loves him! Always has! That all is forgiven! Reconciled!
That’s why Peter is singled out: “Go, tell his disciples and Peter. The angel said, He’ll meet you in Galilee as He promised.” To show them His hands and His side! To absolve these sinners! To care for Peter’s hurting soul. For all of them to confess like Thomas: “My Lord, and my God!”
You too! In His death Jesus has redeemed you. Purchased and won you from all sins, death, and the power of the devil. He rose for you too! This is the Gospel – on which we take our stand! This is the Gospel by which you are saved: “THAT CHRIST DIED FOR OUR SINS ACCORDING TO THE SCRIPTURES, THAT HE WAS BURIED, THAT HE WAS RAISED ON THE THIRD DAY ACCORDING TO THE SCRIPTURES!”
However, the crucified and risen Jesus doesn’t meet you in Galilee! He promises to meet you here - in the Divine Service of His Word and Sacrament. To be God - for you! In order to absolve you! You, who are no better than Peter! Perhaps even worse! You too are forgiven! Jesus shed His Blood for you! That’s exactly His promise every Sunday in the Sacrament: “Given and shed for you for the forgiveness of your sins.”
He is the Lord! He is Lord God for you! The only One! The First Commandment One! For now! And forever!
O frightened one. Fear no more. Death does not have the last word. First Commandment God Jesus does! After all, the Crucified Jesus is the Risen Jesus! He is the Resurrection and the Life. His promise still holds true: “He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in Me will never die!”
Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Alleluia! Have a happy Resurrection Day! In the Name of Jesus. Amen.
Rev. Cameron Schnarr