IN NOMINE JESU Christ is risen! CHRIST IS RISEN INDEED! ALLELUIA!
What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we would "seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God, [to] set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth" (vv. 1-2). This means that we look "unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God" (Heb. 12:2). We now have something to look forward to. We have a purpose to drive our lives, and that, fellow redeemed, is the resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We have the joy of setting our sights on the resurrected Lord. We need not look far, for He is here with us. He has come to us in His Word, and in a few moments He will come to us in His body and blood, the very body He gave and the very blood He shed on the cross on the first Good Friday, which we remembered two days ago. Seek those things which benefit your soul, the gifts He gives you in His Means of Grace. Seek the forgiveness He won for you on the cross and now gives to you in Word and Sacrament. Seek the eternal life in heaven He has won for you by His glorious resurrection from the dead. Set your mind on the salvation for your soul that your Lord has given you. Focus on the risen Christ, for He is your life and salvation.
It is only by the Holy Spirit that we may fix our eyes on the heavenly things. Our Lord says, "This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent" (Jn. 6:29). It is God's work to bring us to faith in His Son Jesus Christ. To this end, He has sent His Holy Spirit into our hearts to work in us saving faith in the risen Christ. He began this work in us when we died. Yes, we have died, and we die each day. We died at the font; we died at our Baptism, as the Old Adam in us drowned that day and as this sinful nature drowns and dies each day in the confession of our sins. The blessed Apostle St. Paul writes in our text, "For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God" (v. 3). We have been made alive again, for Christ is alive again in His resurrection. We died and were made alive again on that great day at the font, and we are made alive each day in the forgiveness of sins, as the new man daily emerges and arises to live before God in righteousness and purity forever. As we go back a couple of months, when we celebrated the Baptism of Our Lord, on the First Sunday after the Epiphany, we recall that the Lord became baptized by His forerunner, John the Baptizer. John was puzzled over this, but the Lord assured Him that this was necessary, to fulfill all righteousness. The Lord entered the river clean; He came out dirty, covered with the dirt and the weight of our sins and the sins of the whole world. Christ became baptized into His own death. We too are baptized into His death. His death brought the forgiveness of our sins, but the story does not end there. But now is Christ arisen, and we are baptized into His resurrection. This means that His resurrected life and His victory over death and the grave are ours as well. Paul writes to the Romans: Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. [Rom. 6:4-11].
This is what it means, that our lives are "hidden with Christ in God" (v. 3b). We are not able to see this new reality with our eyes. But "we walk by faith, not by sight" (2 Cor. 5:7). Our eyes of faith, now opened for us by the Holy Spirit on account of the Lord's resurrection, now see that our identity is located in the risen Christ. We see this as the Scriptures are opened to us, as the Holy Spirit has opened our minds to see the risen Christ among us in His Word and Sacraments.
But, alas, the world and, unfortunately, many who claim to be Christians, do not see this. The world is hostile to the risen Christ. For this reason He appeared only to those who believed in Him. The Pharisees, chief priests, and elders would not have believed, anyway. But today the world still does not care for Him. Easter means nothing to them—perhaps very little more than eggs and bunnies. Unfortunately, many who claim to confess Christ have about as poor an understanding of Easter, and in some ways worse. They believe what their false prophets spew from the pulpit. They believe that, even though Christ's resurrection was a nice event, there is still something they need to do. They take the words of our text: "seek those things which are above" and "set your mind on things above" as works of the Law, that they need to do this and many other works as a supplement to the Resurrection, as if Christ did not do enough for us, as if His word from the cross, "It is finished," did not mean that He did it all or did enough for us. They lack the true joy that comes from the resurrection of the Lord! They still sing of clinging to the old rugged cross. What a tragedy this is! Why cling to a cross where the Lord no longer is? He did His work there. It is finished.
The Lord has fulfilled His work, to save us from our sins. In the cross of Christ we glory, for we thank Him for His saving work while He hung there, dying for us. Yet we do not remain there. Like Mary the Magdalene and the other Mary, we hasten early to the tomb, but we behold that He is not there, either. What is this, and what does this mean? They saw an angel of the Lord, who said to them, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay" (Mt. 28:5b-6). They went quickly from there to tell the eleven disciples what they had seen and heard. They did not stay at the tomb, and neither do we. This is why we are here, for here is where our Lord comes to us; here He has promised to be found, hidden in His Word and Sacraments. We do not cling to the cross. Neither do we tarry at the tomb. By the Holy Spirit we come to the Lord's house to be fed by Him. We believe that He shall come to be our Judge, but this Judge does not desire to withhold His nourishment from us. He will not let us starve, but He feeds us today on His Word and in His Supper, that we may look forward to seeing Him on the Last Day, and "when Christ who is our life appears, then [we] also will appear with Him in glory" (v. 4), for we will be made perfect, in His image, at the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting.
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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