April 16, 2017 — The Resurrection of Our Lord
Sermon Text — Matthew 28:1-10
Christ is risen! He is risen, indeed Alleuia!
Our text for this morning’s sermon is taken from St. Matthew’s gospel account the 28th chapter.
Beloved in the Lord,
They Walk our Walk
We have all trod where the steps of these women. We’ve all gazed upon death’s trophy as the oak descends into the dirt. We’ve gathered before the tomb with family, friends, loved ones. We’ve confessed with bitter tears that it’s easier to suffer death ourselves, than to suffer the death of our loved ones. We’ve eaten the bread of affliction. Death’s piper has called the tune and we’ve been compelled to sing its dirge. And we’ve left wanting more, more time, more words, more laughter, more hugs, more smiles, more life.
And we know that what is walked by us today will some day be walked because of us. We too shall die and our loved ones will want more. Death always leaves us empty, numb, wanting more. Because death always takes. These women wanted more. They walked with Him to the cross and watched. They were there when they crucified my Lord. The followed along as Nicodemus and Joseph took down the body and laid it in the tomb, surrendering the Lord of Life to the grave. With Him they laid to rest all hope of redemption. For if Jesus, a man attested to by God with miracles, a man full of love and mercy, a good and righteous man, a friend of sinners, one who showed no partiality, if He could not avoid such a humiliating end, how could any of us. The walk to the tomb this morning to finish what they started on Friday. They come expecting to find death still there, still gloating, still breathing venomous threats to all who draw near.
Guarding the Heart
Fearful of thieves the Jews have set a guard to protect their prize. But they neglected to guard against Jesus. Old Adam never sees Jesus coming. Old Adam isn’t even looking. We too concerned with our own little trophies. We too concerned with protecting ourselves from thieving neighbors, judgmental family, anyone or anything who would steal away our pride and glory that is our works. We don’t see Jesus coming because we’re focused on ourselves, to busy guarding our heart. In our fallenness we refuse to see our sin but rather we and everyone else look upon our righteousness. In pride we mask ourselves like harlots seeking the admiration of others, lying to both ourselves and our neighbors. If we say we have no sin we deceive ourselves and truth is not in us. It exactly our sinfulness that will not let us acknowledge the righteousness of God nor the depravity of our own hearts. We have set a guard and we’re keeping watch for anyone who would steal away our self-esteem. Worse yet, we reward with the devotion of our ears anyone who affirms us, praises us, admires us, encourages us to keep watch, keep vigilant, keep trying. All who say otherwise preach idle tales. Our glory refuses to listen, covers the ears, shouts curses.
But then death comes. For the wages of sin is death. Through one man’s sin all sinned. Death entered the world and all died and all will die. Death undoes all of our false notions of self-help salvation. Death overtakes the strongest among us. Death conquers the wisest of men, the piety of the pious, the life of the sinner. Death is Old Adam’s foundation for life in this world. No one can guard against death. Nothing is more certain than death and taxes. Death is the final tax each of us must pay. And so death snarls and growls and barks and frightens and terrifies and seeks to devour us all every day of our lives.
The Death of Death
They guarded against thieves but they did not guard against Jesus. Jesus is the death of death. The death He died He died once for all! Jesus offered Himself unto death in place of your death. He humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, submitting to death, even the death of the cross. Like a worm on a hook Jesus was fixed to the tree. His body the bait. His blood the chum. His death the lure. Beholding Jesus as the chief of sinners death took the bait. Like a great white shark Jesus was swallowed whole by the great fish. He offered Himself to save you and me from the storm of God’s wrath. He threw Himself into the raging water allowing Leviathan a moment of glory. But Jesus was no sinner. His blood was pure. His body unbroken. Death overstepped his charge and consumed God’s poisonous elixir. Jesus is the death of death and destroyed the power and sting of death by dying. His cross damns death to death. Old Adam never saw Him coming. Satan was caught in his own trap. Assuming to use God’s righteousness against God’s people, even God’s Son, Satan pursued Jesus with all his might and power. He captured Him. Humiliated Him, crucified Him and locked Him away in his trophy case.
But Jesus is the death of death! While sin, death, devil and all hell were guarding the outside no one guarded against Jesus. No one expected the resurrection. No one fathomed anything or anyone could conquer such a mighty opponent, not the Jews, not Pilate, not the guards, not the women, nor even Mary the mother of our Lord. Today is a new day beloved! Today Christ is risen! Today death’s teeth have been shattered. Death has lost its sting. The grave must surrender its power. The wages of sin have been paid, paid in full, for you and me and all people. Today Christ is risen! Today Christ is victor. Today Christ lives and reigns to all eternity. There is nothing more sure in this world, in this life, than the resurrection of Christ from the dead!
Fear Not Christ is Risen!
Stepping up and stepping out of death the earth quakes before its God. And then the soldiers shake before the Crucified One. The Lord of life is risen and the world as we know is undone. And were it not for the angel’s words we too would be afraid, for everything we stood for, stood on, built our lives upon is brought low. But “Fear not! He is not here; for He is risen as He said.” A new foundation has been laid. The stone the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone! Therefore beloved,
fear not the burden of your sin for Christ has borne your guilt.
Fear not the condemnation of the Law, for Christ has paid your debts in full.
Fear not the death your works deserve for Christ has died your death.
Fear not the open grave, for Christ’s three day rest in the tomb has hallowed your grave. Your cemetery has become a dormitory.
Fear not the perils of hell, for hell is undone from the inside. Christ is risen! He has descended into hell and proclaimed victory. Christ has set His banner in the earth and shattered the false hopes and dreams of an empowered humanity. Christ is risen! God has vanquished our enemies. Christ is risen! God has won the day. Christ was crucified, dead, and buried, but Christ is risen! God Himself is your salvation!
Therefore beloved, meet Him along the way. He is risen from the dead and He seeks you in the bushes. “Where are you? What have done?” Confess your sins and fall before Him. There is no hope in your strength. There is no remedy within your own heart. There is no mask you can wear to hide from Him. Fear not and draw near. He delights in mercy not sacrifice. His mercy never ends and His love is steadfast. Meet Him on the way. Walk with Him today, tomorrow, and forever. Rejoice and sing of His victory for you and me and all who follow after Him by faith. Come, and lay hold of His feet. Worship Him as your mighty King. Do not be afraid but boldly cast off the sin that so easily entangles. Throw off the shackles of unbelief that bind your heart. God is our refuge and strength. Though the earth give way, though the nations rage, though the storms of life batter you about, let these all be gone! They yet have nothing won! Let the doctors diagnose their worst! Let the Law shout its accusations. Let the guards shake and the earth tremble beneath your feet. Let the grave snarl and growl, and bark and even bite. He has no teeth. Death has no power. A new day is upon us! The day of Resurrection is now. Christ is risen! He is risen, indeed! Alleluia! AMEN!
The peace of God which surpasses all understanding keep your heart and mind through faith in Christ Jesus. AMEN!