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Christ is Risen

St. Matthew 28.1-10/Nicene Creed


Easter: The feast of Resurrection, series A
Lutheran Senior Services at Meramec Bluffs  
Ballwin, Missouri

Sun, Apr 24, 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 In the Nicene Creed we confess with our mouths what we believe in our hearts:

[Nicene Creed, III]

I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come.

2 On this great day, the Holy Spirit holds before us just what we look for in heartfelt faith: The resurrection of the dead.  St. Matthew records the words of the angel at Jesus' tomb:

[St. Matthew 28.5b-6]

Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified.  He is not here: for he is risen, as he said.  Come, see the place where the Lord lay.

3 Mary Magdalene and the other Mary are the first to see what all the saints look for in faith.  They saw the resurrection when they beheld the resurrected Lord.  They heard his voice as he spoke to them:

[St. Matthew 28.9b, 10b]

All hail (he said) Be not afraid: go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me.

4 What the women saw, the disciples will see soon enough.  And not only them.  St. Paul says of the resurrected Christ:

[I Corinthians 15.5b-8]

. . . he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep.  After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles.  And last of all he was seen of me, also, as of one born out of due time.

Jesus reveals himself to his disciples after his resurrection.  He reveals himself to them just as he did to the women at the tomb.  Not as some disembodied spirit floating around like a ghost.  But as the glorified, flesh-and-blood Son of Mary who is the Son of God.  The disciples see Jesus physically raised from the dead, with his body and his soul intact.  The women, St. Matthew says:

[St. Matthew 28.9b]

. . . came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him.

The resurrected Jesus' has feet!  St. Matthew includes this to drive home the point that resurrection is not just a resurrection of the spirit, but a resurrection of the body as well.

5 Today, as we gather together in faith and look for the resurrection of the body, the Spirit calls on us to fix our eyes where the resurrection is to be found: on Jesus and on Jesus alone.  In his resurrection we see our resurrection.  In Christ's resurrection we see what life after death is really like.  In Christ's resurrection, we see what we confess to be true: the resurrection of the body and the life of the world to come.  St. Paul encourages us in our faithful confession of our eternal, bodily future:

[Colossians 3.4]

When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.

When Christ returns, we will rise from our graves.  When Christ returns, we will be raised up by the Spirit of God at the command of Christ our Lord.  When Christ returns, what we look for now we will see in all its fullness and glory: our own bodies raised from the dead: flesh and blood and bones—and souls.  All holy, glorified, and perfect forever and ever.  Our confession of the resurrection is forever linked with Christ: with his resurrection and with his return.

6 When we confess our faith in Christ and in the resurrection, we stand along-side the saints of old who held this same belief sacred in their hearts.  Even in the Old Testament, when they confessed the resurrection, their confession, too was held in an unbroken bond to their confession of the Messiah, the Christ.  The blessed Job confessed the resurrection:

[Job 19.25-27b]

For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another.

And with these words Job confessed that he would see Christ face to face on the Last Day.

King David confessed the resurrection:

[Psalm 16.10]

For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.

With these words David confessed the his body would not end in corruption, and neither would the body of the Christ.

The prophet Daniel confessed the resurrection:

[Daniel 12.2-3]

And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.  And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.

Here Daniel states his heartfelt belief that the blessed of God will rise from the dead, and their glory will be that of the Bright Morningstar, even Christ himself.

7 Time and time again the Old Testament saints confess their faith in the Christ, and in the resurrection he secures.  They confess their belief in the everlasting life of the world to come, where Christ will be the substance of our life, and the joy of our days.  Their prophetic confession reaches its fulfillment in the resurrection of Christ on the first Easter Sunday.  And now with them, we hold fast to the final fulfillment of the faith which we confess: The resurrection of our bodies, and our life in the world to come.

8 To see this final fulfillment of our resurrection hope, we constantly keep our eyes fixed on Christ, our risen Lord.  In his resurrection we see him lead us out of the death.  In his resurrection we see Christ blaze the trail for us to resurrection life.  In his resurrection we see Christ as St. Paul sees him in Colossians, chapter 1, as the "firstborn of the dead."  Christ is the firstborn and we are his brothers and sisters, for he has broken the bonds of death, and promised us a resurrection just like his.  So as he goes before us out of the grave, he calls us to follow him; out of death and into everlasting life.

[St. Matthew 28.10b]

. . . go tell my brethren (he says) that they go into Galilee and there shall they see me.

Today, Christ tells us, his brothers and sisters, that we too shall see him.  Not necessarily in Galilee, but in the life of the world to come.  For he has gone there ahead of us and opened the gate of everlasting life.  And when Christ, who is our life returns, we shall be raised up to glory, and perfection, and everlasting life.  We, along with Job, and David, and Daniel and all the blessed saints who longed to see Christ come, will gather together in glory and see our Lord.  We will join with all the saints of the Age of the Church, who in faith confessed what we confess today: I believe in the resurrection of the body and the life of the world to come: And gathered together we will all receive the promised fulfillment of our hope and our faith.  As we stand together at the foot of our graves angels will come and sit upon our tombstones.  The will say to one another: He is not here.  She is not there.  They are risen, just like Christ.  They are risen, just as God has promised.

9 While we await that glorious day of our resurrection, we hold fast to our confession.  Daily we confess that we do indeed believe in the resurrection of the body and the life of the world to come.  For Christ has promised us resurrection.  And Christ will not fail in his promise, for he is faithful, and he will bring our longing for the resurrection to fulfillment at the culmination of the age.  Christ has died.  Christ is risen.  Christ will come again.  And when he comes, on that great and glorious day we too shall rise and stand upon the earth, and in our flesh, we shall see Christ face to face and live forever in glory with the saints in the light of God.  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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