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March 31, 2024

Jesus is Still the Risen Lord

Passage: Isaiah 52:13-15, 1 Peter 1:3-9, Matthew 28:1-8

Grace to you and peace be to you from God our Father and from our Risen and Ascended Lord Jesus…

Nearly 2000 years of Easter celebrations are behind us now! It’s hard to imagine 2,000 Easter days with thousands of churches all celebrating this blessed fact. Each year this is done, and can you picture that many opportunities of praise offered to our Risen Lord Jesus each year all at once, relatively speaking? “Christ is arisen,” “Welcome Happy Morning,” “I Know that My Redeemer Lives” sung over and over again on loop every successive church year! It’s a fantastic blessing…

But as the organ music blares, and the Easter trumpets keep heralding this blessed reality, if you’re like me, perhaps you’ve also fallen into the pitfall of discouragement by hearing the same truth repeatedly yet without any seeming significance. Just the same I.O.U in the empty tomb, if you will, is preached to us year after year, Sunday after Sunday even; but when is the payment coming? As we, followers of Jesus Christ, continue living in this world, the “He is Risen, indeed” can often be easily forgotten. We hold to this promise and assurance, but we are constantly challenged by forces from without us and from within us to drop the notion and promise. While we live in this world, we hear people mocking Easter, disregarding Easter, treating Easter like a societal tradition and not an observance of Christ’s love, or misrepresenting Easter by saying it’s just a symbol or figure. We take a lot of hardship from forces outside of ourselves. And while we try to endure these hardships, there are then the forces that come from within ourselves: the doubts of good, the fear of suffering and death, the irrational paranoias that enter our minds.

But even though it’s been preached now for thousands of years, this truth of Easter is still true. Jesus Christ is still risen from the dead. The Son of God sent to live a perfect life for you and die an innocent death in your stead is risen. He has won! Don’t forget that. No matter what external forces conjure up to disturb you, and no matter what your own weakness lets creep into your mind concerning easter, know that this is still the objective truth: Jesus is Risen from the dead. And this truth—The Risen Lord—provides for us the greatest comfort, a comfort made our own through faith.

So, as is our custom on the festivals of Christmas and Easter, we will be splitting our sermon into three parts, each part based upon our three readings for this morning:

Part I—The Risen Lord, a shock avoided by faith. Part II—The Risen Lord, a blessing made our own through faith. Part III—The Risen Lord, a shock and blessings experienced firsthand.

(… We pray…)

So, concerning all those as far away as the media to all those as close as right next door, who treat the Lord’s Resurrection and the rest of the Word like it is a joke; concerning the world, concerning the devil who rules them, and concerning the sinful flesh which makes up the very nucleus of the world, we come to our Old Testament reading which shows us who is in the right: them or the Lord.

(Read Isaiah 52:13-15)

So what do these spiritual enemies, those that we are so often warned about, see? Well, history shows very clearly to them the historical details that we observed two days ago: the details of Jesus’ death. They were astonished, perhaps in mocking laughter, over how bloodies up He was. The world sees the bloodied, bruised, beaten, and torn up Jesus as a religious failure. The sinful flesh, hell bent on following the notions of pridefulness, see Jesus as the weakling who got what He deserved for getting in its way. And then there is Satan, the one of these three with the real foresight. He thought he won…but he knows the truth. So he keeps the truth hush hush so that the world and flesh can parade about in its blasphemous behavior until the rude awakening comes.

And are these foes of ours right in their assessments? We saw it, too. Jesus Christ, our King and leader, was bloodied and beaten on the tree. We too were astonished, but not in the same way. Ours is not an astonishment of laughter, but one of sorrow. This was the Son of God, beaten, bloodied, and crucified. God put on a cross…and why would such a dark deed happen? Our sin, our evil deeds were the reason for His bloodshed. That’s the reason for astonishment. But while our enemies that surround us laugh and we sit in sorrow, there is one key distinction that will make a difference when God calls this world to an end: Faith. Faith, that gift of God created only by hearing His Word, avoids quite the shocker that will come to the unbelieving world one day. Although they too know the famous line, “It is finished” they don’t know quite what it means like we do. Jesus won. He finished His work. He took away our sin, the record of our evil, on the cross. He made us on good terms with our God. And this already striking act of Christ is made even more so! Jesus, the Servant of Jehovah, the Messiah come to save, has dealt prudently. The prudent thing he did was follow the Lord’s will to perfection. He obeyed every command even to the point of death. And this He did for us and the whole world. And if that isn’t striking enough, He rose again, a very wise thing indeed, so that God’s decree is not made out to be foolishness like the world, sinful flesh, and devil claim it to be. Jesus was then exalted, raised from the dead! He was extolled, ascended into heaven. He is very high, interceding for us as our almighty God-Man representative. This is the blessing we as Christian’s receive. These things are glorious and joyous. Jesus is our advocate. Jesus is our alibis. The Devil can’t accuse us anymore. The world’s laughter means nothing. Our sinful flesh has lost its power, and therefore Death has lost its painful and dreadful sting against us. Jesus is Risen, a shock which comes of no surprise to us.

And so, as we endure our enemies—devil, world, and flesh which deserves death—remarks concerning our risen lord, what is the supposed shock that we will avoid and they won’t? Well, as they were so alarmed by Jesus being physically marred to the point of not being recognized, they will once again be alarmed, shocked, but this shock will come as no surprise to us. Isaiah said that Jesus will sprinkle the nations with the next reality. The Hebrew language here does not mean sprinkle as in sprinkle His blood on them. Think of it more as a semitruck tire driving through a rain puddle. Jesus shall stomp on them like a rain puddle, scattering their minds into droplets of despair, rending the prideful oceans of their minds to specks of water. Kings, that is even the highest in power and authority among the world, shall shut their mouths…they shall have nothing to say when they see the Christ risen and exalted, returning from Heaven. For they shall see and understand something that is unheard of: a bloodied corpse rising from the dead in perfection. Nay, a bloodied corpse rising from the dead in perfection and ascending into heaven. Nay, a bloodied corpse rising from the dead in perfection, ascending into heaven, and coming again to bring judgment. Of course, we with faith look forward to this day. We know that our Redeemer lives. This won’t come as a surprise to us. We know that He is risen, ascended, and reigning. And when He returns, we shall be joyful. This will prove to all our spiritual enemies that we are in the Father’s truth. This has been true for all of time, and no matter how many Easter celebrations happen in the future, there will come a day, the ultimate Easter celebration, where we will be raised, exalted, and extolled as well. This is your objective future and reality, it is yours by faith, and this will shock the world that so vehemently berates you and all you stand for.

Hymn 198 “He’s Risen, He’s Risen, Christ Jesus the Lord”

Now, though we have been relieved with the comfort that helps us withstand the pressures from outside, what about those pressures from within? I’m talking about the doubts towards the good that you have in your life, the fear of suffering and death that even the bravest of you don’t want to go through, the fear and pain of the suffering and death of those you love, the irrational paranoias that enter our minds each and every day during our trials on this earth. Concerning these more subjective concerns, we have offered to us the greatest comfort: the Risen Lord—a blessing made ours by faith. Let’s turn to our Epistle reading for this blessing.

(Read 1 Peter 1:3-9)

Well, no doubt all of us have in our minds, whether consciously or subconsciously at the moment, doubts, fears for ourselves, fear for others, and irrational paranoias. Yet despite this somber reality, we are all here for a reason: to praise God and hear His saving word. And so, from my first impression of our epistle, I have nothing else to say than Worthy of praise is God! Worthy of praise is the Father of Christ! Why? There are many ways to answer that, but the one we really cling to is this—He has shown us abundant mercy: sparing us from punishment. On top of that, He has begotten us again, no longer children of sin, but His children who have been born with a living hope—an ever-going confidence that is firmer than stone. This living hope that we have been born into is an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and does not fade away. To express this in a more meaningful way to you, perhaps you’ve received an heirloom from your parents and grandparents once or have been promised one that will bring you many wonderful memories of your loved ones and their love shown to you. One that comes to my mind for me is my grandfather’s communion kit which I carry with me to offer the souls of Redeemer and Zion the sacrament. The contents of this kit are sterling silver, but that’s not even the most valuable quality. The most valuable is the memory of my grandfather that it calls to remembrance in my mind. I love this kit, and I’d worry if I lost it. I have to polish it from time to time as well, considering that silver tarnishes. If you have something like that from your parents or grandparents, it is still not the best inheritance you have. Whereas I had to worry about not losing my kit and had to worry about polishing it, this inheritance given to me by my Heavenly Father will never go away, it will never tarnish, it is always standing. And this is the inheritance: We will receive life eternal. That means no more growing old and the pain it brings, no more sinful life choices and their painful consequences brought on by you or others, and no more time passing by in pain but eternity in Heaven. This is reserved in Heaven, the place of God, for us. How can this be? Jesus Christ rose from the dead! Jesus Resurrection seals this fact to us. It declares to us as it has been doing for over 2,000 years that Heaven is ours now. In this we believe. We believe with trust, faith, the power of God, that this saving act has come through Jesus rising from the dead and will be expressed at the last time.

What a great blessing indeed! We today greatly rejoice over this blessing! But, alas, we will go away from this worship service back to our lives at home, work, school, or wherever else our callings in life take us. And while we go on in our lives, we to varying degrees according to God’s will, will be grieved by various trials in our day to day lives. Some of you have already gone through very difficult trials already. These trials no doubt put us in a situation where we find it all too easy to create within our own minds our doubts, fears, and paranoias. And so, to provide perspective on our lives in a way in which the blessings just preached to us can continue to be a richer blessing beyond the church pew, let’s ask why we endure these trials? So that the genuineness of your faith may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revealing of Jesus Christ—Judgment day. Your faith is holding out and being made stronger through these trials. Your faith is made stronger through trials by teaching you to trust more and more in your Risen Lord. Your subjective concerns through this faith and grace are reduced to simple growing pains, growing pains that can be dispelled by the comfort given in the Savior’s resurrection—the promise of your inheritance. This faith in Jesus and His resurrection that we have is more precious than gold that perishes, for faith never perishes.

And so, when I slip into my emotional malfunctions, my doubts, fears, and paranoias during my trials on earth, sometimes I wish I would have had the same experience that doubting Thomas, the fearful Marys, and the paranoid disciples would have had—Jesus appearing to them. No doubt you’ve thought that too. But, remember this in your hardships, Jesus says, “Blessed are they who have not seen, yet have believed.” Though we have not seen Jesus, we still know that He is Risen from the dead and He is coming quickly. Yes, Jesus is coming, we believe this. Jesus is the one whom we have not seen yet we love Him. Though we have not seen Him, we believe in Him. And through this Jesus you will receive the end of this precious faith: the salvation of your souls. You will be taken from this painful world to your inheritance proven by the resurrection.

So, throwing off all doubt, fear, and paranoia, let us sing our next Hymn, hymn 201 “Jesus Lives! The Victory is won.”

So, now that we’ve seen the shock that we won’t have to endure, and the blessings we get to receive, it’s time to look at the momentous occasion that brought on these blessed truths to us. On the Resurrection Day of our Lord we see demonstrated to us a shock and a blessing experienced by those involved. We read of this in our Gospel Reading.

(Read Matthew 28:1-8)

So, we now see our Risen Lord, and here we see the shock and blessing that He brings as He gives firsthand examples for us. First, shock is seen. Here we see a glimpse of the Old Testament reading. The one who was marred beyond recognition, the one hung on calvary’s cross, is gone. And so, the glory is already being revealed in this. The Son of God is Risen from the dead. So, let the world pay attention, and if we have any doubts about this too, pay attention as well. Jesus is risen. The tombstone is rolled away, and no one is inside. No, no one set up an elaborate prank. Those disciples were too afraid to leave the upper room. No one was getting Jesus out of there that night. Besides, that stone door was extremely large and heavy, and now it lies open. No, something of great power has happened here. This was also accompanied by a great earthquake. The very earth shook when this went down, setting this apart from any other ordinary “cool story.” An angel also sat on the stone and shined like lightning. One of God’s hosts of angel armies, perhaps the most powerful beings that God has created, had the privilege of taking part in explaining this glorious display just like at Christmas time. This then is no grave robbery. This is God’s hand in action. What makes even more glorious is that Jesus was not in there when the angel, with tremendous strength, rolled the stone away! Truly, this man is the Son of God! Remember the Roman centurion saying that on Good Friday? Well, the two Roman guards who passed out of fear, I hope they talked to superior officer about this. Perhaps they could learn a thing or two. They were certainly shocked by this display of glory, shocked to the point of passing out! This is just a glimpse of what will happen on judgment day for those who don’t believe. We only pray that these Roman soldiers learned who it was that they were guarding—their Risen Savior. We pray that all people learn about who it is that these Romans failed to guard.

We pray that this message is preached from the roof tops, for we want all to be able to enjoy the blessings on being on the right hand side of God, who will have the last laugh against devil, world, and death. What a blessing we have then for ourselves then, as we get to watch Jesus shock our enemies so that we no longer need to despair over them. As for Satan, notice how it wasn’t him or one of His demons sitting on the stone. It was God’s angel messenger, sitting on the stone almost like a neon sign marking Satan’s defeat. Satan is shocked. He lost. As for the world, notice how the pharisees’ and romans’ plots were foiled. Jesus overcame them and conquered. He demonstrated that through His resurrection all things work out for good. Any Christian taken in death by the hands of this world, or even at the least is slighted by the world, Jesus demonstrated that He has won. He endured death at the hands of the world and has given the victory by being the first to rise to eternal glory. All of us now will be raised one day too, overcoming the world. And finally, that brings us to death. The stone was punched back, the earth shook, Christ is no longer in there. Neither shall you be one day. Neither shall your brothers and sisters in Christ be. Death is swallowed up in victory. This is the firstfruits of shock and awe.

Now then, if that is the first fruit and sample of shock, what about that of blessing? Here in the Gospel account, we see the epistle so finely expressed. To demonstrate, we turn to the Marys who no doubt had doubts, fears, and paranoias, “Is our Lord really dead, are the soldiers going to get in the way, who’s going to roll away the stone?” But what do they find? An open tomb. And what does the angel say to the women? “Don’t be afraid! This is good news for you. You seek the one that was marred beyond recognition, right? Well, He is not here! He has risen from the dead just like He said! Want proof? Look at His bed! No one here, right? Yes, He is risen and going to Galilee. You will see Him there. This is true, as I, a messenger of God, have told you.” The angel, the messenger of Good News, has given news that will be preached for thousands of years. And the marys ran from the tomb with fear and great joy, and with the Good news! They ran to the disciples of Jesus with the most uplifting word: He is risen! The disciples no doubt had their fears, doubts, and anxieties too. Thomas, Peter, and the like were hidden away because of this, and now they would receive their confidence.

So then, here is the first hand blessings that we see in our Gospel reading. How will you go away then from this Easter service? You saw the angel and what he said, “Jesus is not here. He, the crucified for you, is also risen for you!” The angel’s message is the message we have to provide us with sure hope. And the Lord keeps sending you messengers. Though they are not angels, the Lord has given you pastors and fellows brothers and sisters in Christ to keep telling you, “Jesus is Risen. Heaven is yours.” You also saw how the Marys reacted. They went to the tomb with sorrow and came out with fear and joy. Hasn’t the word done the same with you? Whether it is Sunday preaching or private reading, you too have had the same word preached to you for your eternal comfort and the healing to your pains. May you also run with excitement and joy and fear into your busy lives to share the same with others. And what about the disciples? How many fellow Christians do you know that have locked themselves in the upper room? They need this message as well. Jesus is Risen. Let them know it, too.

Jesus is Risen, a shock revealed and a blessing conveyed. May this pleasantly surprising fact through faith be your mainstay against pressures from evil, may this gracious fact through the same faith be your healing balm in your personal lives, and may this fact ever be with you by faith as it has been with generations of Christians from the Marys and apostles onward, the fact that says, “He is Risen” “He is Risen, Indeed.” Hallelujah. Amen.