Christ is risen!
He is risen indeed!
Grace and peace in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Today is the day! Who knows the song?
Today is the day! Today is the day!
That the Lord has made, that the Lord has made
I will rejoice and be glad in it, and be glad in it
Today is the day that the Lord has made; I will rejoice and be glad in it.
Today is the day! Today is the day! That the Lord has made.
Indeed, every day is made by God. But this day we recognize as made by God, because it is the day dedicated to the celebration of the resurrection of our Lord. The story of the resurrection is the story most important and precious to us
This past week, Holy Week, we remembered the suffering and death of Christ on the cross. Jesus suffered and died in our place. He suffered the scourges of the Romans, the mockery of the soldiers and other people. All his friends abandoned him. Finally Jesus cried from the cross, "My God! My God! Why have you forsaken me? " To be cut off from God is the essence of hell. In this earthly life, whether we believe or not, God surrounds us with His grace, love and providence. Eternal death is to be forsaken by God forever.
Christ died the death that we all deserve. Crucifixion was a painful punishment, reserved for rebels and criminals. We are all rebels and criminals, but Christ died in our place.
However, this is not the whole story. Christ died on Good Friday, Holy Saturday He descended into hell to proclaim His victory to the devil and the spirits in prison and the third day He rose again.
What was the first evidence of His resurrection? Today's Gospel (Mark 16: 1-8) says "And the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, that they might anoint him. And very early on the first day, they came to the tomb, after the sun had risen. And they said among themselves, Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulcher? And when they looked, they saw the stone rolled away; which was very large. And entering into the sepulcher, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment; and they were afraid. And he saith unto them, Be not affrighted: ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified; He has risen, He is not here; behold the place where they laid him. "
Therefore, we celebrate the resurrection not only this Sunday, but every Sunday we celebrate the resurrection, because Christ rose on Sunday, the first day of the week.
The tomb was sealed with a big stone. So the women thought of how to remove the stone, but the stone was removed. Inside the tomb they say a young man dressed in white clothes, ie an angel. And the angel said, Jesus is not here, He has risen. The first evidence of the resurrection therefore, was the empty tomb. This was strong evidence, because women saw it first, then Simon Peter and the other apostles, and eventually everyone knew that the tomb was empty. Pontius Pilate not only sealed the tomb with a stone, the other evangelists testify that he put a guard in front of the tomb, but the soldiers fled a great light.
The empty tomb, however, was not the only evidence of the resurrection. The following verses in the Gospel of Mark say the risen Christ appeared first to Mary Magdalene, who remained behind in the garden of the tomb. She was the first person to see the risen Christ, but not the last. St. Paul says, Christ appeared once to 500 people at the same time.
Christ was not a ghost, but a man of bones and blood. But He had changed. His body was not limited in the same way as our bodies. He entered a room through locked doors, for example. He had the scars of crucifixion in His hands and spear in His side. But He had, and still has a glorified body.
So the resurrection of Christ is not a myth. There were many witnesses. But at last He ascended to heaven to be seated at the right hand of the Father, as the Creed says, and now is not with us in a visible form. He is always with us, but not in a visible way until He returns to judge the living and the dead.
Paul says in our text for today, "But now Christ is risen from the dead; firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep ... But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at His coming. " At the second coming of Christ, the faithful will be resurrected to eternal life and unbelievers to eternal death.
This is the promise. We speak of Christ as the firstborn of the dead because He overcame death with power. Our text says, "For since by one man came death, by one man the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. " Because of the disobedience of Adam and Eve, we have a sinful nature, the old Adam, that has to physically die, but we also have the life of Christ in us that never dies.
So, there are some questions for us. First, if we have the promise of a better life than we have now, why not seek to physically die now? In this life we have many sorrows, difficulties, challenges and problems. When we die physically, then we will live forever with Christ without pains, difficulties, challenges and problems. So why is suicide is a sin?
Because this earthly life is a gift from God. He has a purpose for each of us in this world, each of us is a blessing to our families and our neighbors. We must not leave this world before we fulfill God's purpose. We now enjoy the blessings God gives us in this life in the hope that the best is yet to come.
We should not reject the gift of God, therefore, suicide is a sin.
Another question: If Christ overcame death, why there is still death in this world? Today, 2000 years after Christ, we lose our loved ones to death. Two Venezuelans died in that German plane. There are many other tragedies and every time a person dies, it is a pain to their families. Why do we still have death in our world?
Christ overcame death with his resurrection, but Paul says, "But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming. "We expect to Christ in His second coming in glory for our resurrection. But we now have the confidence of eternal life in Christ no matter what happens in this world. We are the saints of God in this world, but we are still sinners. The sinful nature will die and when it dies, the eternal life will remain. We were born as sinners, but we will live forever as redeemed children of God when our mission in this world ends.
We will physically die, but we have no fear of eternal death. This is our hope that it is craziness to the unsaved world. Unbelievers do not have a sure hope in the future, their celebrations are celebrations of selfish desires. Looking for everything they can acquire and enjoy for themselves. We celebrate in another way, with confidence in God, so we share our blessings and our hope with others.
The peace that passes all understanding be with each of us. Amen.
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