in veritate lux vitae

The Feast of the Resurrection - Pastor Flamme

The women came to the tomb on Easter morning expecting the leftovers from the violence three days before. Why shouldn’t they? It’s the way of the world. The wicked tend to kill the innocent. Even the righteous are torn to shreds by sin and swallowed by death. The women came to the tomb, heads filled with grief, pain, and thoughts about how to roll the stone away from the sepulcher. They came to fulfill the grim duty of honoring the dead with spices, aloes, and such things that are necessary according to the burial customs of the Jews. They didn’t find death. The tomb is empty. The body of their Lord was nowhere to be found. As always in history, the Lord accompanies his saving works with his Word, that we might trust in him. The angel preached to the women, “You seek Jesus of Nazareth, the crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him.” They ran in fear! The old order of sin, the old dominion of death, had been flipped on its head. They had become comfortable with their slavery under the fear of death. But now something stronger than death has come! If you’ve got to be afraid, be afraid of the man who destroyed death and holds what’s left of his power in his hands. Christ is risen! Death’s power is stripped away. His walls are shattered. His weapons are broken. His crown is manhandled off his cold, pale brow. Jesus wears it! He sets death’s captives free. The prison doors are wide open. The demon guards and their captain, the devil, has fled in terror. Jesus is Lord, over heaven, over earth, over life, over death, over hell, and in mercy over his saints who hear the angel’s words and trust in them. Christ is risen! Life, for the very first time in human history, life has swallowed up death. Hear the angel’s sermon and take heart. Where Christ our head has gone, there we shall follow, to resurrection, and eternal life. IT IS NOT POSSIBLE FOR JESUS TO BE HELD BY DEATH.

I. Jesus’ divinity, his sinlessness, and the perfection of his sacrifice overcame death.

II. Jesus’ Living Word, your possession by faith through Baptism has united you to his resurrected life.

I.

St. Peter, in his first Christian sermon, says that “it was not possible for Jesus to be held by death.” There was never any doubt of the outcome of this strife. Jesus could only be victorious. Why? First, Jesus is true God. Yes, in the incarnation God’s Son becomes man, is born of a woman, and suffers scourges, nails, rejection, and death. But even if death can hold a mutable and fragile human body, it cannot contain and withstand God. Death and Jesus are not equals. Jesus is greater. First, he proved it by raising the widow’s son at Nain, then with Jairus’ daughter, and finally with Lazarus. Now his authority is exercised over himself. Second, Jesus’ resurrection is greater than all the rest. Why? He died to sin. Ended sin. The Scripture teaches that the wages, or just result, of sin is death. What claim on Jesus does sin have? None! The equation of sin and death as God’s judgment is broken in the sinlessness of his own person. Death wouldn’t stick. Corruption couldn’t even touch Jesus’ human flesh as he rested in the grave, says David. This brings us to the third point. Jesus life could not be contained by death because his sacrifice to atone for the world’s sins was perfect and acceptable to God. Jesus was raised for our justification says St. Paul. His blood, his passion, his last cry of giving his soul to the Father, all of it pleased God and was more than adequate to purchase all sinners everywhere from the powers of death and hell. How much more so shall Christ himself benefit from the spoils of robbing the devil blind!

II.

This precious and central teaching of Christ’s kingdom, the adorning jewel of Jesus’ bride the church, is proclaimed today for your faith and hope. In these words, Christ is risen, Jesus desires you to find joy, peace, and contentment in the hour of suffering, pain, sadness, and death. Jesus died and rose not for himself and his own satisfaction. He did it for you. Our living Lord didn’t leave us as orphans. His living Word resurrects the wicked from spiritual death. It gives faith to the faithless and forgives the tormented conscience. This day, and especially in baptism dear Saints, Jesus resurrects your souls from the old way of slavery to sin, fear of death, and trust in the devil’s lies. “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.” Dear saints, you have died with Christ. In your Lord’s crucified death, the penalty of your sins has been paid in full. Sin has no claim on you. You are bound by water and Spirit to Jesus’ resurrected life. Where faith now rests with Christ in the Glory of the Father, our bodies must will follow. “Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead.” Take heart, dear saints. Listen to the preaching of the angels, apostle’s and evangelists. Here is life for your souls and bodies. Here is comfort in a world that knows only wickedness and loss. Christ is risen!