"Christ Opens Our Eyes"
The Resurrection of Our Lord—Easter Sunrise (Matins)
Christ Opens Our Eyes
April 16, 2006
IN NOMINE JESU
Christ is risen! CHRIST IS RISEN INDEED! ALLELUIA!
It was morning madness. Nothing seemed right. Nothing was as it should have been. Being in mourning (with a "u") certainly can contribute to such madness. The thoughts are not the clearest or most coherent. Sadness rules the heart. It was dark outside and dark in the heart of Mary the Magdalene and the other women who accompanied her to the tomb. She dearly loved her Lord. The Lord had previously cast out seven demons from her. He taught her. She listened to Him. She saw Him hailed as King when He rode into Jerusalem. She saw Him railed as a criminal when He was crucified in a matter of days. It happened so fast—too fast—that she could not understand fully what had taken place. Her heart was heavy. She went to pay her respects to her Lord, whose body lay in the tomb…or so she thought.
When Mary came to the tomb, she "saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb" (v. 1b)! No doubt she was asking herself the Lutheran question: "What does this mean?" If she asked herself the question, she surely did not have any answers. She ran to Peter and John and told them that the Lord's body had been taken. What nonsense this must have seemed to them, two members of the Lord's inner circle of disciples; so they ran to the tomb. They saw no body, but they beheld the linens being neatly folded and set aside. John believed, not necessarily that the Lord had risen, but that Mary was right in saying that the Lord's body was no longer there. They did not know the Scripture, that Christ must rise again from the dead. The Lord had not yet opened their minds to the Scriptures; their minds were still closed, and their hearts were closing quickly.
By now Mary the Magdalene was overcome with raw emotion. Nothing made sense to her at all. She told the angels she did not know where this unknown "they" laid the Lord's body. Through her tears she may not have recognized them as angels; she certainly did not see the Lord for who He is, for she had mistaken Him to be the gardener. No doubt the Lord prevented Mary from recognizing Him until the time He saw fit to reveal Himself. Even as one little word felled the devil on Good Friday, tetelestai, one word lifted up her who was in tears, her own name, Mary, spoken by the Lord Himself. In hearing Him speak her name, she knew and believed that the Lord had risen from the dead.
We are here this morning for the Lord to open our minds to understand the Scriptures, that we too would believe and rejoice that the Lord has risen from the dead. Our sinful minds cannot comprehend the Word of God, for our sinful hearts are also closed to the Scriptures, wanting nothing to do with the Lord and His Word. The sinful nature cares nothing about a resurrected Lord, caring as little about eternal life. In essence, we who by and of ourselves are spiritually blind, dead, and enemies of God despise the Gospel. We in our sinful nature loathe hearing that Jesus Christ died for our sins and rose again for our justification. We shun the message that God loves us, and there's absolutely nothing we can do about it. We who live in this vale of tears find such good news too good to be true.
Yet our denial of the facts by no means deletes the facts. The fact of the matter is that Christ died to win the forgiveness of your sins. Christ descended into hell to proclaim His victory over sin, death, and the power of the devil, so that His victory would be yours. Christ rose from the dead so that you through faith would have life with Him forever. Christ lives! And because He lives, you too shall live! His victory over sin, death, and hell is your victory, too! Jesus has come and brings pleasure eternal, the pleasure of eternal life in heaven, for our Lord will call all the faithful to Himself on the Last Day, and we with our resurrected bodies will behold the Lord in His resurrected body, in all His glory, the glory that awaits us in heaven.
The Lord said to Mary the Magdalene, "Do not cling to Me." She was overjoyed in seeing her Lord, but the relationship was new. Prior to Good Friday, Christ had been her Teacher. Now He is her resurrected Lord, just as He is our resurrected Lord. Just as Mary was not to cling to the Christ, so also we are not to cling to the old rugged cross, for the Lord is no longer there. We thank God that He sent His Son to die there for us, but we do not cling to it. We "Early hasten to the tomb Where they laid His breathless clay; All is solitude and gloom,—Who hath taken Him away? Christ is risen! He meets our eyes. Savior, teach us so to rise" (TLH 159:4). We run to the tomb, but we do not tarry there, either, for the Lord's body is no longer there. Where is Christ? He is right here; He has risen and ascended into heaven, and now has He come down to us in His Word, and in the Divine Service this morning He will also come down to us in His body and blood. To get us ready to celebrate the resurrection of our Lord, He has sent us His Holy Spirit to open our minds and hearts to the Scriptures and to receive the risen Christ who comes to us in Word and Sacrament.
There is no madness now, for Christ has made all things right; He has made all things new. Mary's tears of painful mourning are now our tears of Easter morning. Her gloom and sadness is now our Easter triumph and Easter joy, thanks be to God!
Christ is risen! CHRIST IS RISEN INDEED! ALLELUIA!
In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
SOLI DEO GLORIA
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