Dear believers in the Resurrected and living Christ. Jesus is risen, He is risen indeed, Alleluia.
Many will be having fun today with Easter bunnies, Easter eggs, and those Easter baskets with the plastic grass. And there is nothing wrong with those things, but if that’s all there is to Easter, people are missing out on the real joy and the real blessings of Easter.
The most important thing about Easter is not the bunny, or the chocolate eggs. Jesus Christ is risen from the dead. And He promises, “because I live, ye shall live also.” Just as surely as He lives, we too will live. Jesus is risen, and that means our sins are forgiven, and eternal life is ours.
The things of this world are only passing and temporary. Even our most valuable earthly possesions, eventually fade away. Yet, Jesus lives forever, and those who believe in Him will live forever. “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.”
His resurrection also removes our fears. We don’t have to fear what will happen to us after this life is over. He already went through the grave to overcome it for us. We never have to go through it alone. He promises that we will rise just as surely as He is risen.
How do we know that? How can we be so sure? God’s word says so, and that is all we need. His spirit works through His Word to bring comfort and assurance into our heart. He calms our fears with the peace of sins forgiven. He shows us that the Father accepted His sacrifice on the cross. The Father is at peace with us for the sake of His only-begotten Son. And if God be for us, who can be against us? There is no need to fear anything since God has accepted us and made us heirs of eternal life through Christ.
Today we hear the account of the women traveling to the grave. Jesus was laid to rest on Friday, and they didn’t have time to prepare His body for burial that day. They couldn’t work on Saturday, that was the Sabbath. So they had to wait till Sunday. And we see their great dedication and their love for the Savior – they came as early as they could. They cared about Him, and they wanted Him to be taken care of properly.
Sometimes we might get to thinking that life was so different back then, and these women, and the disciples too, were so different compared to us. But actually, they were very much the same as we are.
They felt the same emotions, they faced the same difficulties, they confronted the same fears. And they had to overcome the same obstacles. One of the biggest obstacles they faced, was simply, struggling to believe. Despite the fact that Jesus told them many times, He would rise again, the women were expecting to find a lifeless body. They wanted to prepare His body for burial. That’s because they saw Jesus die. They saw Him being placed in the grave. And so what else could they believe? They were following what their eyes told them, not what the Scriptures told them. That is the same problem in our word today – “I’ll believe it when I see it.” Or, “Why doesn’t God just show us another sign, another big miracle, and then I’ll believe.”
But let us consider this: if our bodies were raised the second they were put in the grave, what need would we have to believe? If our problems were solved the second they became a problem, what need would we have for God’s promise to help and to save?
The disciples too, had the same difficulty. Jesus said they were, “slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into His glory?”
But God does not forsake us in our time of need and doubt. They were troubled about who would roll the stone away (for it was very heavy), but when they arrived, the Angel of the Lord had already rolled it away. But was the stone rolled away so that Jesus could get out, or so that they could look in, and see the empty tomb, and remember that Jesus said He would rise again, and so that they would believe His promise?
“He is not here: behold the place where they laid Him.” The angel wanted them to know what that means. The empty tomb means that Jesus finished the work He came to do for us on the cross. It means God accepted His sacrifice for our sins. So that must mean that our sins are forgiven. It must mean we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son.
The empty tomb also means Scripture is true when it says that “death is swallowed up in victory.” That means that our grave too, is swallowed up, it’s been overpowerd and overcome. It’s sting, it’s power, has been removed. Now it is only something we must pass through on our way to heaven.
The empty tomb also means that Jesus’ own words are true. He was able to speak truly when He said “The Son of Man must suffer many things...and be slain, and be raised the third day.” And if He is truthful on these things, then He is truthful also in saying that our sins are forgiven. We can rely on His promise: “I will come again, and receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.”
The empty tomb means that Jesus is truly the Son of God, who is able to do what He promises. The empty tomb means that we will rise from our graves, just as Jesus promised, “Because I live, ye shall live also.”
“I know that My Redeemer Lives, what comfort this sweet sentence gives. He lives, He lives, who once was dead; He lives my everlasting Head.” (TLH 200, "I know that My Redeemer Lives")
Lazarus was raised. The daughter of Jairus was raised. Many others too were raised. But Jesus is the only one who has ever raised Himself from the grave. God alone has such great power. So Jesus must be God, and His promise of eternal life must be true. Since Jesus could raise Himself from the grave, that means He can and will raise us too.
Since He could raise Himself, then surely He finished His work on the cross, and we must be forgiven by God. And since He can raise Himself from the dead, then surely He can raise us to new spiritual life right now, even as He already has, when He gave us the gift of faith through His Word and Baptism.
“I know that My Redeemer Lives,
He lives my hungry soul to feed, He lives to help in time of need.
He lives to wipe away my tears, He lives to calm my troubled heart,
He lives all blessings to impart.” (TLH 200, "I know that My Redeemer Lives")
Although at first, the women, and the disciples, were afraid, and confused, and really didn’t know what to do - In time, God’s Word took effect in their hearts and they believed. They were strengthened, they were comforted, they were forgiven - and they became some of the greatest witnesses for Christ this world has ever seen. And we too are comforted, we too believe, and we too are forgiven, and so we too share the good news. Christ who was once dead is risen to never die again. And because He lives, we too will live. May everyone have a very happy and blessed Easter. In Jesus’ name. Amen.