Easter (1 Cor 15:1–11; Jn 20:1–18; Ex 14:10—15:1)

Photo by Jametlene Reskp on Unsplash

Immanuel Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || VIDEO

INI + AMEN.

Alleluia! Jesus Christ is risen!
He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

((5. Oops!: Church are empty on Easter.))

Rings a bit empty, doesn’t it? I know I’ve been saying it a lot, but just like it stung a bit more on Holy Thursday, so it stings a bit more today. Don’t get me wrong. There’s great joy over the fact that Christ is raised from the dead! But it would be nice to gather on Easter. It is Easter, after all.

We may have rung the bell this morning, but it’s not the same. The pews are empty. The churches are empty. There’s no one here to receive the Gifts, and so the altar is empty, too. The Last Will and Testament of Jesus held back.

((4. Ugh!: Other things are empty, too.))

But it’s not just the churches that are empty because of the pandemic. Granted our situation is a bit different here, but there’s a lot of worry about what this will do to our economy. Lots of places will be empty. Business that won’t make it. People that won’t have jobs. Even our own bank accounts, or retirement accounts, may be a little emptier than we like.

But it’s not just that. Closer to home, closer to each of us are those places that are empty. Places where our loved ones used to sit. There’s no one listening who hasn’t had a loved one who died.

It’s not just those you love. No, you. Someday it’ll be you. Your place, too, will be empty.

If your spot, your chair, your tractor cab, all the places where you go are one day empty of your presence, well, that means something else isn’t empty. Your grave.

((3. Aha!: Christ’s grave is empty!))

Christ’s grave, too. His was full. He was buried in Joseph of Arimathea’s tomb. Wrapped up in a burials cloths. Spices put on. The whole bit. That’s what we’re told at the close of all the Passion Narratives.

First, it had to be filled. Christ had to die. But it also had to be empty! That’s what the Old Testament prophets preached. Paul tells us: “I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.”

Christ’s tomb is now empty. He rose from the dead—came back to life! No empty church buildings can change that. His tomb was empty! That’s what Mary Magdalene iand the other women saw! “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” Peter and John also saw the empty tomb!

But they didn’t just see an empty tomb. No, they saw Jesus! Alive after He’d been dead! Mary Magdalene did. “Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, ‘I have seen the Lord’—and that he had said these things to her.” Not just her but the other women, too. That’s what the other Gospels tell us. But, as Paul summarizes for us, Jesus also “appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.”

((2. Whee! Christ’s grave is empty FOR YOU!))

But this isn’t just some nice historical fact, even though it happened. What Jesus did, He did FOR YOU. “Christ died for our sins.” You’re in on that. You’re in on His resurrection, too. Christ’s grave is empty FOR YOU! Jesus “was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.”

Christ went to Calvary for you. He died for you. He was buried in a grave for you. He came back to life for you, too. Now, He lives and reigns forever for you. He will come again for you. All that Jesus does, He does for you. His life, death, and coming back to life reconcile you to His Father—Good Friday. Forgiveness of sins. Now, on the other side of His death and resurrection, His Father is your Father. “I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God,” He tells Mary and you.

((1. Yeah!: CHRIST’S GRAVE IS EMPTY, AND ONE DAY YOURS WILL BE, TOO!))

But what does it mean that Jesus’ grave is empty FOR YOU? It means that CHRIST’S GRAVE IS EMPTY, AND ONE DAY YOURS WILL BE, TOO! That’s the joy and the meaning of Easter!

The joy is that CHRIST’S GRAVE IS EMPTY. It’s a joy that the Christian Church has been celebrating for 2,000 years. It’s a joy that the Old Testament believers and prophets were waiting for. It’s a fact that no empty church and no pandemic can change. CHRIST’S GRAVE IS EMPTY!

But it means that ONE DAY YOURS WILL BE, TOO! It really will. That’s Jesus’ promise. It’s the promise of His resurrection, the promise of His empty tomb. It’s also the promise of your Baptism. Through the washing of water and the Word you were placed into Christ’s death for you and also His resurrection for you. In Holy Baptism you were crucified with Christ and raised in the power of His resurrection.

One day Christ will complete your Baptism and raise your body from the dead. You’ll be brought out of death, just like the Israelites were led out of slavery in Egypt. On the Last Day you will see what the water and Word of Holy Baptism did for you. Just like the Lord used the water to rescue Israel from Pharaoh, so also your Baptism into Christ, into His death and resurrection, deliver you from sin, devil, death, and grave.

This is also the promise of His Gospel! Through the Gospel, which is the message that Jesus died and rose for you, “you are being saved.” Saved from sin, but also saved from death, and that means saved from your own casket and grave. One day your grave will be empty, too.

It is also the promise of His Supper. There the forgiveness of sins, but also the promise of eternal life. The Supper is that important. It is the medicine of eternal life, where you receive the promise of resurrection on the Last Day. “Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will resurrect him on the Last Day.”

CHRIST’S GRAVE IS EMPTY, AND ONE DAY YOURS WILL BE, TOO! That’s the joy of Easter! Your trust in Jesus clings on to Him who rose from the dead. Faith in Jesus means you won’t just rise from the dead, your grave won’t just be empty, but you’ll be face to face with Jesus, just like Mary Magdalene was, able to cling on to Him them, though.

That’s what faith does. It takes hold of Jesus. The Jesus who takes hold of you, who took hold of your sins, who took hold of your death, who took hold of your grave, and He rose from the dead FOR YOU. CHRIST’S GRAVE IS EMPTY, AND ONE DAY YOURS WILL BE, TOO!

Alleluia! Jesus Christ is risen!
He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

INI + AMEN.

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