Sermon — Rev. Tony Sikora — Easter Vigil
St. Mark 16:1-8
In the Name X of Jesus. AMEN!
Beloved in the Lord,
Our enemies never cease to assail us. The sight of our sin shames us. The power of the grave frightens us. Death’s pall hovers over us waiting for an opportune time to strike. Such a pall has covered our Lord. The women make their way to the tomb because death has stricken their hope. Jesus is crucified. His blood spilt upon the earth like a dog. His flesh assaulted by his fellow man as though he were less than human. Those who loved him abandoned him.
But the women have not forgotten. Though assailed by the same enemies they take courage. They go to the tomb seeking His body to care for His body. They go assuming that all is the same as the day before, namely that dead things remain dead and dead people stay in the grave. This is the way it’s always been since Adam. The wages of sin is death. Death comes to everyone because everyone has sin, everyone has sinned. Jesus died. Jesus must still be in the tomb because that is the where they laid him and dead people don’t get up and walk away.
Like all who’ve gone before them, these women go to the tomb of one whom they loved. They go looking for the body to anoint it with spices and oils and aloes. They go to work. They go in sorrow. They walk the walk we all have taken and will surely take again. It is the walk of sorrow and sadness. It is the walk of fear. “What will become of tomorrow? What will happen to us, to me, to my family? Life will never be the same. Joy has been ripped from my heart. Tears adorn my check and fill up my soul. Who will roll away the stone? Who will come and deliver us, deliver me from these wretched enemies? Who will finally break the seal of the tomb and let us out?
Looking for the body of Jesus they find no such thing. The stone is rolled away. The tomb is open. Their hearts quicken. Their eyes open. Their hopes ascend. A young man dressed in white greets them. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen, He is not here; see the place where they laid Him!” Today is not the same as yesterday. Christ is not here, not here amongst the dead things of the world, not here in the tomb, not in death, not under the domain of sin. No longer seized by Hell’s legions Jesus is risen!
Hope is resurrected!
The tomb is gutted.
The grave is empty!
Death has no teeth.
Hell’s gates have no bars.
Sheol is vanquished!
Hades is cast down!
Satan is crushed!
Humanity is liberated!
God’s saints are victorious!
He’s not here, not in death, not dead any more. He’s risen. Surely He was crucified. Our enemies gave it their best. Sin railed against Him. Hell encompassed round about Him. Humanity rebelled in their fullest depravity hanging Jesus on a cross. All our guilt, shame, sin, death, and much deserved hell was thrust upon His shoulders. Jesus bore it. Suffered it. Died for it. Yet, He is the Holy One of Israel. He has no sin but our sin. He deserves no death, but receives our death. Sin, death, and devil surely crucified Him but they could not hold Him. His holiness is so great, His righteousness so pure, the grave was compelled to surrender before Him. He’s not here! He’s not dead! Not anymore. He’s risen!
When your enemies advance against you! Look upon Christ! Behold His Cross! Recall His empty tomb! For our Lord Christ has taken upon Himself your sins, suffered them on your behalf, and now, today has become a blessing. Where is your sin now? It is there on the cross. Where is your death? It is there in the crucified Christ! Where is your grave? It is open. The stone has been rolled away. The seal is broken never to bar your exit again. You may go in – for death comes to all people, but you will surely come out, alive, resurrected, to live for all eternity in paradise. Jesus is not in the tomb. Jesus is not dead, did not remain dead. Nor shall you! He’s risen! So also shall you who believe and are baptized.
Therefore beloved seek the body of the Lord where He has promised to be. The angel told the women to go into Galilee and there they would find Him, just as He promised. We Christians are bound to the promises of our Savior. We need not go to Galilee but rather seek Him where He’s promised to be.
We go to the font, for in the waters He delivers me with His death and resurrection. We die with Christ, we are crucified with Christ. Old Adam drowns and we are raised with Christ. We go to the altar. In the bread we eat His body and in the cup we find His blood. The resurrection is placed on our tongue. And the words “for you” speak grace to our heart. We heed the Word, the absolution, the means of grace. These give life, because these give Jesus. Jesus is here because Jesus is risen!
Thus dear Christians you may walk away from the grave with these words ringing in your ears. “He’s not here. He’s risen!” These Words comfort the heart and strike fear in the enemy. For though we continue to be assaulted and afflicted with the enemy’s gruesome display, we have these words, we have such a Christ, we have Jesus. Thus we have the victory and may counter our adversaries’ attacks on the soul with words of boldness, words of faith, powerful words, words that chase the darkness away. “Know then – sin, death, devil, and everything that assails me – that you are missing the mark. I am not one of those who are afraid of you. For Christ, my dear Lord, has presented to me that triumph and victory of His by which you were laid low. And from this very gift of His I derive my name and I am called a Christian. There is no other reason. My sin and death hung about His neck on Good Friday, but on the day of Easter they had completely disappeared. This victory He has bestowed on me. This is why I do not worry about you” (Luther). This is why I depart from you with fear and trembling, not of you, but of the grace and power of my Lord Christ who has triumphed over you by stepping out of the grave. My Jesus is not here. He did not remain long in your clutches. Nor shall I or my loved ones who also believe and are baptized remain long. He is Risen! He is risen indeed! AMEN! Alelluia!
The peace of God which surpasses all human understanding keep your heart and mind through faith in Christ Jesus. AMEN!