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Monday, April 1, 2013

Easter Sermon

March 31, 2013
Scripture readings:
Christ, the Life
Luke 24:5-7

And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? 6 He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, 7 that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.” And they remembered His words.
These ladies, Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them, should have known better. They shouldn’t have been surprised to find the tomb empty. They shouldn’t have been perplexed by the fact that body of Jesus was not where it was supposed to be. They should not have been frightened at the appearance of the angels at such a great event as this day would turn out to be.

Jesus had told them and his other followers that he would be handed over to the pagan authorities, he would suffer, be crucified and on the third day rise again.

Jesus had taught them that in many ways that He was the author of life, the one who has ultimate power and control over life and death, and that he would come again on the last day to judge all life.

After Jesus fed more than 5,000 people, miraculously from just a few loaves and couple of fish, He said, “I am the Bread of Life” Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.

Another time Jesus had said, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.”

And just a couple of weeks before, when He had raised Lazarus from the dead He had said, “I am the Resurrection and the Life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live.”

Jesus Christ is the Life. How could death hold Him? How could death win?

Now, we can’t be too hard in a critique of those first people to hear the news of the resurrection. They should have known better, yes. But ask any teacher and they can tell you how often students don’t remember the lessons they have been taught. If you’ve ever taught Sunday school, or midweek or Vacation Bible School you may have been surprised at how the students didn’t retain the lesson that you thought you made clear. If you’ve never taught Sunday school, Midweek classes or Vacation Bible School, you should once so you know what it’s like. You can talk to me about that right after the service.

The women who came to the tomb that Sunday morning should have expected that Jesus might not be there.  But it took the angel to remind them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead?  He is not here, but has risen.”

We each know ourselves how things like that can go. We’ve all had times when we realized that we were slow to learn our lessons. We should just know that it’ll go better for us if we don’t sin. We’ll have a better day if we don’t get angry, don’t lust, don’t cheat or deceive. We should just know that we’ll feel better about life and ourselves if we do good works, showing care toward our neighbor and going even a little out of our way to help someone, even our enemy. It’s good to forgive. Forgiveness is divine. But often we don’t remember our lessons.

Or how about this one: We should know better than to fear. Our negative attitudes and our unhealthy emotions often show that we have failed to learn our lessons.

The women at the tomb who were perplexed, confused and frightened at the sight of the angels, should not have been. So likewise you should not fear. A lot people are deathly afraid of shame or embarrassment. There’s no reason to fear. Jesus has forgiven you all your sins, so now because of Him God loves you. It’s not such a big deal if there a few human beings that think little of you. Your God thinks you’re special and worthy. That’s a lesson to not forget.

A lot of people are afraid of the future because their imagination is way too active at thinking up the worst possible things that could happen. What’s the worst that can happen? You don’t have to imagine it. Just look at the cross, it happened to Jesus. He suffered. He died. He cried out “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me.” Jesus willingly took that cross so you don’t have to.  – so you can hear God say instead, I will never leave you. I will never forsake you.

A lot of these fears we have about the future, about suffering, about shame, stem from that greatest and ultimate fear, the fear of death. And I just can’t tell you, stop it. Don’t be afraid of dying. Because it is real and it is inevitable. Everyone’s doing it. No one seems able to beat it. Except One.
For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. (1 Corinthians 15:22)  

And when you believe that, when you remember His words, when you put your trust fully in Jesus Christ who is your life, the fear evaporates away, like fog when the sun shines through. When you believe that Jesus Christ has forgiven you all your sins, the fear of shame and embarrassment evaporates. When you believe that Jesus lives forever and is sitting at the right hand of God the Father almighty, in control of all things for your good, your fear of the future evaporates. When you believe that Christ is the life, your fear of death evaporates.

 A colleague of mine told me that one of his parishioners once told him, “Pastor, you need to get some new material. It seems like every time I hear you preach, it’s the same old thing: Jesus and His resurrection.”
My pastor friend, kindly and patiently replied to this man, “well, you know, if you came to church more than just at Easter, you might hear that there is more that we talk about.”

But there is some truth behind that parishioner’s criticism. We in the church can’t get enough of talking about the resurrection of our Savior from the dead.

We need to keep this good news in our thoughts all throughout the year and in our daily lives. We like the women at the tomb who heard the angel’s message, need to “remember His words.”

We are surrounded by a world that is seeking a living among the dead.

If you’re looking for some sense for your life in the things that give you pride, you’ll be so disappointed when they pass away.  Your strength, your health, your prosperity, your good luck, your honored position among citizens can give you the false impression that you are worth something on your own. But all of those things don’t last forever. They grow weak, old and succumb to death. If you get some sense of the value of your life and your purpose from those things, it’s like you’re seeking the living among the dead.

If you’re prioritizing your life around those things that give you pleasure, if you make all your choices based on what’s gonna feel good, you’ll be disappointed and you will suffer because such things never last and they never give the happiness they seem to promise. 

By nature we are drawn to love these things most. And all these things we love most are passing away they are dying, they will not last forever. Why do seek the living among the dead?”

Find your sense of life in Christ, the Life.

Find your identity, not in the temporary, dying things that you’d like to be proud of, but in Christ your life.
Seek the living One. Seek Christ the Life.

And He will find you.

He found you and made you His own in the new life of baptism.

He finds you when through His word, you hear that precious Gospel that your sins are forgiven and you will be with Him now and forever, even through the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting.

He finds you when you are fed His body and cleansed by His blood.

He finds you and gives you eternal life. He is Christ, your Life.


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