He is risen. He is risen indeed. Alleluia! This morning we mock the devil. We stare down death knowing that our last enemy has been destroyed. Our Lord has stormed the gates of hell, unlocked the chains that bound us, and raised us again to new life.
Good Friday was not just some unfortunate and sad event. What sinful man meant for evil God meant for good. It was indeed a Good Friday that Christ – the Son of God – should hang naked – and suffer and die in the place of all sinners – upon the accursed tree. He absorbed the full wrath and fury of God. He consumed sin, death, disease, and hell itself. He bore the sins of the whole world until all of God’s righteous anger was appeased and his fiery wrath was snuffed out.
Hanging between heaven and Earth with outstretched arms, and with blood flowing over His whole body he bore the curse of all human wickedness and blessed and forgave his own executioners – blessed and forgave you. In victory he cried out in Greek “tetelestai” which means “It is finished” – it is done. Paradise is restored as God looks at what he has done and said it is very good. And he rested on the 7th day in the sleep of death in a dusty tomb.
But you see this Jesus was without sin. Therefore death could not hold him. Christ came forth alive from the grave in which He lay and destroyed and consumed both the devil and death, who has devoured him – thinking they had won. But the devil was tricked by Christ. He tore the devil’s belly and hell’s jaws apart and ascended into heaven, where He is now seated in eternal life and glory. “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” This morning we mock the devil and stare down the infernal wolf. We mock death. He is Risen!
When the two Mary’s ran to the tomb on Easter morning they expected to find a corpse but Jesus had risen. They soon saw Jesus for themselves. He later appeared to the Emmaus disciples on the road. Then to all the disciples in the upper room, fresh, and risen from the grave. He would show them his pierced hands, and feet. He showed them His pierced side. He broke bread and ate with them. He would stay with his disciples for another forty days. And not just to them but to hundreds of his followers.
This actually happened. God became man and died and rose for sinful man. All the disciples bore witness to Jesus resurrection from the grave. They saw with their own eyes – felt him with their own hands. And they all died for what they believed – either stoned to death, nailed to a cross, filleted alive, or beheaded.
Dear Christians, nobody would suffer and die for a lie. And the 2 billion Christians in the world aren’t following after a fairy tale either. This truth that Christ has been raised from the dead changes everything. Your life is different. Your best days are actually ahead. Your sins have been paid for. Your failures have been forgotten. Your life has been redeemed. Hell has been closed and heaven has been opened. Best of all it means that God is pleased with you. Jesus did not rise from the grave for himself – but he did so most importantly for you.
The grave of Christ is empty and this means that your grave too shall be empty – when the trumpet blasts – and Jesus comes again with his holy angels to call you forth. You will rise from your grave with him.
Like our Easter lilies and flowers this morning – you too will come to full bloom – and sprout forth from the dust of the earth and be raised incorruptible – never to die again.
Jesus Resurrection is your Resurrection! Jesus told his disciples and he has told you, saying “Where I am going you shall be also.” On the last day, the dead will rise. Everyone out of the grave, alive, will spring forth, like a lily in spring and face the rising Sun. No one will stay in the grave. For everyone who believes in Jesus Christ will live.
Therefore come out into the morning sun and meet the Risen Lord. He is present where he has promised to be in His Word and Sacrament - in His preaching – with his gathered guests. Where two or three are gathered in my name there am I among you.
And this same Jesus, risen and fresh from the grave is with you now. It is he who stands victoriously on our altar as the very Lamb of God. It is he who provides the Easter dinner. His very body and blood for the life of this world.
He gives you the bread of immortality and heavenly drink – which is the antidote to death. He gives you himself. So come feast on the bread of heaven and wet your lips on the chalice of his love.
Join your ranks with the angels and the saints in heaven. Jesus lives and so shall you.He is risen. He has risen indeed. Alleluia!