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Christ is Risen

St. Mark 8.1-10


Easter Family Celebration
Lutheran Senior Services at Meramec Bluffs  
Ballwin, Missouri

Sat, Apr 23, 2011 

Soli Deo Gloria. Amen.

Invocation In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Christ is Risen!

He is risen, indeed.  Alleluia!

1 On the Sunday after Jesus' crucifixion, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome headed off to Jesus' tomb with their sweet spices, that they might anoint Jesus' body.  As they traveled along the path toward Jesus' resting place, there was one thing they knew for certain.  Jesus was dead.  They saw him nailed to the cross.  They heard him cry out to God and witnessed his last breath.  With their own eyes they saw his lifeless body drop to the ground with a thud as they pried out the nails that held him to the cross.  They watched and followed as Joseph of Arimathaea led the way and helped lay Jesus' corpse into the grave.  And perhaps most chilling of all, they heard the stone roll over the entrance to the tomb and seal up the cold, dead body of Jesus.  They might not know much else, but this one thing they could be certain of: Jesus was dead, and that was that.

2 Imagine their surprise, then, when they got to the tomb on Sunday morning and the stone was rolled away.  A young man, an angel in fact, sat in the tomb all by himself.  If I saw that, I'd be afraid.  And so were they.  When the angel spoke, and broke their stunned silence, what he said was so outrageous that it must have shaken the foundations of everything these women believed.

[St. Mark 16.6b-7]

Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him.  But go your way, tell his disciples and Peter that he goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see him, as he said unto you.

3 What glorious news!  Jesus' body wasn't missing.  No one had taken him.  And the women were not somehow at the wrong tomb.  No, the angel said he was raised from the dead.  The Spirit of God had breathed life back into his body, and now he was on his way to Galilee, just as he had said.  There the women and the disciples would see him.

4 In this entire passage in St. Mark's gospel, no one ever denies Jesus was actually, physically dead.  The women bear witness that he died, when they come to anoint his body with spices.  The angel bears witness that Jesus breathed his last when he speaks of him as crucified.  No one denies Jesus' death.  Because Jesus truly died.  You might be thinking by now: Pastor, why do you keep talking about Jesus' death when we've gathered here to celebrate his resurrection?  It's a good question.  And here's the answer.  There is no resurrection without death first.  This day we proclaim the Lord's death because only by dying could he blaze the trail to resurrection life.  And our hope lies in that truth.

5 You and I will all one day die.  We probably won't be crucified, but we will reach the end of our lives.  We will breathe our last.  Our bodies will go limp and cold.  And we, like our Lord will be buried.  But that will not be our end.  For the saints of God, better things are still to come.  St. Paul says:

[Romans 6.3-5, 8-9]

Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?  Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection. . . Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: Knowing that Christ, being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him.

6 By dying, Christ has defeated death.  Not that we won't die.  But when we die, we will die along with Christ.  We got our first taste of this blessed death in Holy Baptism.  At the font, as water was poured over us in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, we died.  And by God's grace and by his action, the Spirit of God then breathed new life into us.  In Holy Baptism we have all received a promise and pledge from God that what he first did at the font, he will one day do at our graves.  In Holy Baptism we have been united with Christ in his death, and on the Last Day we will be united with him in resurrection.  We, too, will rise from the dead.  We will stand up and dust ourselves off and see our resurrected Lord face to face.  Angels will sit in our graves, all alone, where we once lay cold and dead.  Our bodies, once lifeless, will be resurrected at the word of our Lord as the Spirit breathes everlasting life into our glorified lungs.  And all the sorrows, struggles, diseases, and pain of this life will be past.  For we, along with all creation will be made new by the power of Almighty God.

7 While we wait for that great and glorious day, we do not deny that we will die.  We don't have to embrace death.  We do not have to welcome it.  But we dare not deny it or ignore it, because death will come for us all.  But praise be to God, after death, Christ will come.  And with him will come the Holy Spirit.  And together they will do the Father's will and raise us up from the dead and welcome us into the light and glory of the saints of God on high.  Christ has died.  Christ is risen.  Christ will come again.  And when he comes we'll experience what he experienced on the first Easter Sunday.  Resurrection from the dead, life that never ends, and the everlasting salvation of our bodies and our souls.  Praise be to God!  Amen.

Christ is risen!

He is risen, indeed.  Alleluia!  Amen.

Invocation In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

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