Easter Sunday, April 21, 2019 — Deacon Rex Watt

Isaiah 65:17-25 / 1 Corinthians 15:19-26 / Luke 24:1-12



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

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

“Alleluia! Christ is Risen!  He is risen, indeed!  Alleluia!”  We expected to hear those words this morning, didn’t we?  It is Easter after all.  It is the time of the year that the Church talks a lot about the resurrection of Jesus.  It just goes with the territory so to speak.  But it was not always so.  Just look at our gospel text for today.  On that first Easter morning, the women came to the tomb of Jesus not because they thought He was alive; they came bearing spices needed to prepare His body for proper burial.  If you remember what took place on Good Friday, Jesus hung on the cross from about 9:00 am until 3:00 pm when He cries out with a loud voice and dies.  And after He dies Luke goes on to tell us that a man named Joseph of Arimathea asked Pontius Pilate for the body of Jesus, wrapped it up quickly in a linen shroud and placed it in a tomb nearby because, “It was the day of Preparation, and the Sabbath was beginning.”  God forbid that they should do any work on the Sabbath.  No, the women did not come to the tomb that first Easter morning expecting to find a live Jesus, they came expecting to find a dead Jesus.

They aren’t the only ones who had expectations when it came to Jesus.  Take the two on the road to Emmaus, which is the very next story we find in Luke’s gospel following our reading today.  While they were walking along the road, Jesus himself drew near and went with them.  But their eyes were kept from recognizing him.”  After Jesus had asked them what is was that they were discussing along the way, they said they were discussing Jesus of Nazareth, a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how the chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and had him crucified, and how they had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel from its bondage.  They may well have had previous connections to a party called the Zealots, who were all about throwing off the Roman rule in Palestine.  With Jesus of Nazareth’s death, their political dreams were dashed.

And then there was that large crowd of 5,000 who were fed miraculously by Jesus.  After He fed them and left for the other side of the Sea of Galilee, the next day the people got into their boats and followed Him there not because of the sign that He had done, but because they wanted more bread.  They expected Jesus to be their bread basket.

Remember when the people of Capernaum wanted to keep Jesus around as their medical plan after he healed Simon Peter’s mother in law and a bunch of other people in town?

Even His own disciples had expectations of Jesus.  They argued among themselves as to which of them was going to be greatest in the kingdom they thought He was going to establish.  Why even James and John’s mother got into the act by coming to Jesus and asking if her two boys could sit, one at His right hand and one at His left when He came into His kingdom!

People had all kinds of expectations of Jesus.  And on the day that Jesus died, all those expectations died as well.  But all that was about to change.

When the women got to the tomb with the spices they had prepared, they found the stone that covered the opening of the tomb had been rolled away.  They had been wondering all the way from town how they were going to get inside the tomb to finish preparing Jesus’ body according to custom.  They must have been relieved when they arrived and found the tomb open.  But when they went in, they did not find what they expected.  The tomb was empty.  They did not find the body of Jesus.  What they did find were two men, the other gospels call them angels, dressed in dazzling apparel, who said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead?  He is not here, but has risen.  Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified and on the third day rise?”

These words dear saints of Redeemer are among the sweetest words in all of Scripture.  Your Jesus is not in a tomb.  He has risen.  These women who came to the tomb were the first to hear those powerful words that have changed the course of world history, “He is not here, but has risen.”  They couldn’t keep it to themselves so they ran off back to town and told the apostles, and all who were with them, what they had seen and heard.  Unfortunately our text tells us that, “these words seemed to them an idle tale,” which could be rendered in Greek as ‘pure nonsense.’  It was beyond their wildest expectations.  But that’s the way God works.  He doesn’t work according to our expectations; He works beyond our imaginations!

Peter, being Peter, ran to the tomb to see for himself.  Looking in all he saw were the grave cloths, and he went away wondering what this all meant.  Later, Jesus will come to him and restore he who denied his Lord three times, and he will become one of the boldest witnesses to the resurrection of Jesus recorded in the New Testament.

Today, your Jesus works in ways beyond your imagination.  He became flesh to take upon himself all our sins; yours, mine and those of the whole world.  He went to the cross to bear the punishment for those sins, was buried, and as we heard today from the mouth of the angels, raised from the dead.  His resurrection is the beginning of the new creation promised by our Lord, of which we heard in our OT lesson.  Reborn of water and the Holy Spirit you were made partakers of that new creation in your baptisms.  And in a few minutes we will by faith, according to the Word of Christ himself, find His resurrected body – not in a tomb, but right here at this altar in His Holy Supper.  Rejoice dear saints of Redeemer, for He is risen, He is risen indeed!  Alleluia!  Amen.

And the peace of God which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.  Amen.

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