The Resurrection of Our Lord
“Without Any Doubt”
April 16, 2017
Sermon Text: Matthew 28:1-10
Grace to you and peace from our living Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Again, a blessed Easter morning to you. He is Risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!
What joy fills our hearts this day as we consider again our Savior’s victory over death and the grave. His victory over sin and Satan.
Or… was He victorious? I know that is an odd question, but there were (and still are) many who wondered… who were skeptical given what they heard and came to believe. The way some heard it, Jesus’ disciples came at night … as the story goes… and “stole him away.” (Matthew 28:13) They took His body away.
St. Matthew records this hastily conceived cover-up campaign on the part of the Jewish leaders in the verses immediately following our glorious Gospel text. The chief priest’s paid some good money to get that story out there… to have it circulated… made public… made known… all for the purpose of… at the very least… placing doubt in people’s minds about Christ’s resurrection.
If you look in the dictionary, “doubt” is defined as “a feeling or state of uncertainty, especially as to whether something is true, genuine or trustworthy.”
“Doubt” is also the unmistakable signature and stamp… the preferred instrument and tool of Satan himself. And he has most certainly perfected it, given the fact that he has effectively used it since the beginning of time when he placed doubt in the minds of our first parents, asking, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden?’” (Genesis 3:1)
And now, Satan fully aware of the fatal blow which Christ rendered him on the cross at Calvary and the victorious and glorious news delivered at the empty tomb… now the prince of this world in these, his final death throws and thrashing if you will, is bound and determined to take as many people to hell with him as he can… as he is able.
And such will be the case for all who die in unbelief… such will be the case for all who flat out deny Christ and the salvation He won… for all who buy into Satan’s lies, the world’s lies and the opinion of so many who are spiritually blind… for all do not steadfastly believe in the risen Savior of the world, Jesus Christ. It will be the case for all who will not bend the knee and heartily confess that Jesus is Lord… and this, every hour of every day of their lives.
We are talking about the Christian life which permeates all aspects of our life and all avenues we may take in our life over the course of our life. This is not a part time thing… an on-again, off-again think.
By the way, so that there is no “doubt,” do not think for a moment that coming to church in your finest on Easter Sunday… in itself… constitutes the Christian life and what is true faith, saving faith.
That being here a few times a year makes you a Christian.
That living in Him… in His Word and in the Sacraments and worshiping Him sporadically… when it is convenient… when it fits into your schedule, your lifestyle… is in any way a true confession.
What about God’s command that you are to have no other gods… that nothing… no one… is to take precedence over the Lord your God and your living in Him… your regularly, constantly worshipping Him?
And this, all this, not out of obligation or compulsion, but out of a sincere desire, true willingness and hunger for… to especially be here, in the house of the Lord, not to put in your time, but to receive that which you and I so desperately need… that which the Lord our God so freely and fully gives to us in Word and Sacrament.
Dare I ask? Where were you on Good Friday, Maundy Thursday, Palm Sunday, the Sunday before that and the Sunday before that? Where will you be next Sunday and for all the Sundays to come as long as… or as short as… there are future Sundays for you and the entire world?
If anyone believes that the Christian faith… the Christian life is something that they can just dabble in… engage in when and where it is convenient… they are sadly, tragically mistaken.
They have been led astray as so many have before them and now pay the price in regard to what they experience in this world and what they face eternally in the world to come.
Truth is… the reality of it is, my friends… we “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” as St. Paul declares, “and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 3:23-24)
We all do not deserve what was done for us, won for us, by our Savior. Whatever our failures in the past… yes, those dealing with the lack of love, honor, reverence, proper worship and respect shown to our Lord and yes, those dealing with our sins against our fellow man… it is all forgiven… we are forgiven… our sins are no more.
And if sin has been wiped out, blotted out… so have the wages of the same, the consequence of the same, namely death. The grave holds no fear, for as it could not hold Christ… it cannot hold, will not hold us.
His resurrection is our resurrection. His victory, our victory… full and complete. His living forevermore is our living forevermore and this, with Him in paradise.
We celebrate this for what it means for ourselves, but also for our loved ones who are still among us and who daily fight the good fight of faith with us… with the cross of Jesus, going on before.
We celebrate this, all this, also for dear ones who have finished their course here on earth… those who lived the faith and died in the faith… those who certainly worship with us now with angels and archangels and all the company of heaven. Indeed, there is more here… there are more here than what we can see… who we can see… worshiping right alongside of us… praising, glorying of our Risen Lord, saying triumphantly with us, “He is risen!”
And so let us go forth in peace. Today is indeed a new day. God has made it so in Christ Jesus. You are all new today, with a fresh start, a clean slate. God has made it so in Christ Jesus. How blessed we are and always will be in Him… in our dear Savior. Amen.
May the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus unto life everlasting. Amen.
“Without Any Doubt”
4/16/17 The Rev. Mark H. Hein
St. Paul’s Ev. Lutheran Church, Lockport, IL