O give thanks unto the Lord for He is good, His mercy endures forever (1 Chr 16:34). Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church - Winnipeg, MB
Wanting to Find a Dead Jesus
Wanting to Find a Dead Jesus
Based on Luke 24:1-12
Preached on April 21, 2019
Click on the Play button
to listen to the Sermon.
Grace, mercy and peace to you from God our Father, and from His Risen Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Fellow baptized saints, why do you go to a grave? That’s right, you to go to a grave to visit the dead. To make sense of what has happened to your loved one. You go to grieve.
The women go to the tomb early Sunday morning. They’ve been waiting since Friday. They want to do right by their Lord and properly bury His body. Friday was a rush job. A disaster. Body desecrated. Tomb sealed. Guard posted. And Saturday was the Sabbath. They had to rest. Couldn’t make the trip to the tomb.
Their hearts have been left hanging. They just want to grieve. They want to be sad. They want to do what little they can do to make sense of their Lord’s sudden and terrible end – so they go to care for His dead body. Washing. Spices. Final burial rites. No more aggravation. They want to be left alone. They just want to grieve in private.
But as they approach the tomb there in the first light of the day, they learn they will not get their wish. NO! The stone is rolled away! They can see it from a distance. They run into the tomb and all their worst fears are realized before their eyes. His body is gone. Someone has taken Him – and with Him their chance to find peace. They will not be able to grieve. They will not be able to show their Lord one last act of love by treating His body. And so they want to find Him. Find His dead body. The women want to find a dead Jesus – but He’s not there.
Suddenly there are two men standing in the tomb with them. Not just ordinary men – their clothes glow. Shine – and it freaks them out. Grief and panic give way to terror as they drop to the ground, eyes cast down in fear.
But these men haven’t come to frighten them. They’ve come to preach. They’re preachers! Sent by God to these grief-ridden, panic-stricken, fear-filled women - to announce what has happened. Angels announced that the Christ would be found in the manger, and now they announce He isn’t found in His tomb. For He has RISEN!
Why do you seek the living among the dead? This is a graveyard ladies. We’re standing in a tomb. And God sent us here because He told us you are looking for Jesus. You’re looking in the wrong place. He’s not here. He has risen! Remember how He told you – the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day rise.”
How could they forget? How do we? But we do. Just like these women, things happen in life, and we forget about the power of our Lord’s resurrection and what its immediate, present lordship over our lives means for our every day. We need preaching. Regular. Weekly preaching to make sense of reality. To hold our view in line with God’s. To remember - how He’s told us – and how it changes everything. Everyday.
The angel’s message hits their ear drum. It fills their minds. It travels down into their hearts – and there they are – the words Jesus had spoken to them, taught them, promised them – and they remember. God be praised! Heaven rejoice! They remember! And suddenly they are flooded with a whole host of emotions.
Oh these poor women. All they want to do is be sad, but Jesus won’t let them. All they want to do is grieve and mourn, but Jesus won’t let them. His preachers break into their sorrow with a total shock. He’s not dead. He’s alive. Joy. Hope. Peace. Burst to life within. Even while all the other emotions are still racing around inside. Jesus did what He said. Jesus does what He says. He was crucified for us, and now He’s risen from the dead.
Just as eagerly as they came, the women run off to tell the others. They’ve become preachers – carrying the victory message of their Lord’s defeat of our enemy death. Jesus beat death! His tomb is empty. Stone rolled away. Angels announcing His glorious resurrection! And they’re not just preaching to anyone – they’re preaching to the future apostles! The future preachers.
Share the news. Tell the truth. You don’t need a PhD or even a high school education. This powerful message is simple. Jesus has conquered Sin and Death for all. We win. He has risen from the dead, creating a new humanity in Himself. He has left your Sin in His grave. Totally forgotten. Totally forgiven. It doesn’t matter who you are. This message is true for you. He wants you to hear it. Be shocked by it. Filled with joy from it. Hope. Peace. Love. Life. All new - in this Word that you hear.
But if at first they don’t believe you – don’t worry – and don’t be surprised – His apostles hear the women and chalk it up as wishful thinking. Nonsense. Impossible. They are so defeated from what has happened, so ashamed of how they abandoned Him, so ready to put up reasons why it couldn’t be, that they will not believe. At least not yet.
But Peter has to look. This message tugs his heart. He doesn’t care how impossible it is. Lord, to whom shall we go, You have the words of eternal life? So he runs to tomb. It’s open just as they said. He slows his pace as he approaches the hole. He stops at the entrance. Lowers his head to look in – and there he sees them. The burial cloths lying there by themselves – but no body – At the manger it was the baby wrapped in cloths that confirmed the angel’s message to the shepherds – but at the tomb it’s the cloths and NO BODY that confirms the angel’s message to his future shepherd and apostle. Because you don’t leave the burial cloths behind when you’re stealing a body – You leave it behind when you’ve risen from the dead and you’ve taken it off – don’t need it anymore – cast it aside – remove the death covering – eyes wide open – feet stepping forward. The preaching is true. Peter believes. And home he goes marveling. Shocked. Astonished.
This isn’t just about one man rising from the dead, is it? No. This is about the destruction of death itself. You heard St. Paul. Christ is the firstfruits. The first harvest. With the promise of more to come. You. Me. Our last enemy has been beaten. Christ is lord of it. He entered to take it captive, and to free all from it. Christ reigns. He rules death. But not for Himself. He rules death for you. This isn’t about one man rising from the dead. This is about humanity rising from the dead with a new head and new lord – even Christ Himself.
This changes everything for you. It means you don’t have to make up excuses for all the things you’ve failed to do. You can be honest about your sins. And you can be honest about what Christ has done for you. It means you don’t have to worry about your life anymore. You can be honest with yourself that Christ is Lord, and you are not, and that clearly His plan for your life is better than yours. It means you don’t have to live in fear anymore – not of anything. For your Risen Lord calls you to live in His resurrection – sharing His eternal life with those He puts around you. It means you don’t have to compete with your neighbour anymore. Your status isn’t determined by you. Its determined by Christ. So you can tell them the truth about what Jesus has done for you and what He has done for them.
And that confession starts right here, this Easter morning, at the Lord’s Table. For whenever we eat this bread and drink this cup, we proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes. When you kneel here before your Lord, you tell the truth about your Sin, and you tell the truth about His great love and forgiveness. You tell the truth about your need, and He feeds His living body in your mouth, pours His living blood through your lips. You are forgiven. Satan is defeated. And death is conquered. For Christ is Risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia.
In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Rev. Cameron Schnarr