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The angel said, “There you will see Him, just as He told you.”
᛭ INI ᛭
Alleluia! Jesus Christ is risen!
He is risen indeed! Alleluia!
What did they expect to see? It’s pretty easy to know what “Mary Magdalene, Mary the Mother of James, and Salome”—Mark’s sources—thought they’d see. We can, of course, put ourselves in their shows. They expected to see a dead Jesus. But we know what they expected to see besides that. They expected to see the stone in front of the tomb. They were saying to each other, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?” Good question, “it was very large.”
But what they expected to see and what they actually saw didn’t match up. “After they looked up, they saw that the stone’s been rolled away.” But that’s not all the unexpected things they saw. Instead of seeing Jesus in the tomb dead and wrapped up, well, “they saw a young man, who was clothed in a white robe, sitting on the right sight, and they were stunned!”
There’s usually a difference between the things we expect to see in our lifetime and what we actually end up seeing. We all have expectations for what’s coming: today, tomorrow, twenty years from now. Plans, time tables, projections. Now, it’s possible to do such things out of love for our neighbor. “When the Sabbath was past, [they] bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb.”
There’s always the false god of our plans, though, as James says:
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”—yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.
“The wages of sin is death.” That’s what the women expected to see, and we’ll all see that someday—death. But that’s all upended by what the women actually end up seeing. “They saw a young man, who was clothed in a white robe, sitting on the right side, and they were stunned!” It’s more than what they saw. It’s what that angel preached to them: “You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He was raised; He is not here. See the place where they laid Him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.”
When it comes to what you see and what you expect to see, a graveside is the place where expectations and reality meet when it comes to how the world works. There’s no surprises there. No happy changes…unless of course, Jesus is involved. “He was raised; He’s not here,” the angel said. But there’s even more comfort: “There you will see him, just as he told you.”
“There you will see him, just as he told you.” That’s a promise not just for the disciples or for peter. It’s a promise for you, too. Jesus lays out what we can expect from Him. He tells us what we’ll see. It’s all about what He tells us. It’s all about His Word. The promise Jesus makes is this:
YOU WILL SEE JESUS, JUST AS HE SAID.
Word of promise, then seeing—that’s the flow of things. The way of Jesus is hearing first, then seeing. “You will see Him, just as He told you.” I fact, the women and all the disciples should’ve expected an empty tomb. He told them that, too. But when confronted with our last enemy, death, we default to our expectations. In no other way is connection of Jesus’ promise and seeing Jesus more important than in how the Lord Himself delivers and assures His promises to each of us. In His Word and Sacraments there’s this paradox between what you see and receive and what the Lord says you’re receiving.
“All that the mortal eye beholds Is water as we pour it. Before the eye of faith unfolds The power of Jesus’ merit. For here it sees the crimson flood to all our ills bring healing.” (LSB 406:7) “Baptism now saves you…as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” (1 Pet 3:21) Whoever is “born of water and the Spirit” will “enter the Kingdom of God.” (Jn 3)
The words which absolution give Are His who died that we might live; The minister whom Christ has sent Is but His humble instrument.” (LSB 614:5) “Whatever you loose on earth, will be loosed in heaven.” The gates of heaven are opened to you by a man with God-given authority. “He who hears you hears Me,” Jesus says of His ministers.
Our eyes see and our mouths taste bread and wine, but, according to Jesus, we are receiving, eating and drinking, much more. The bread and wine are “My body given for you and My blood shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.” “Christ is our Passover Lamb.” As the Israelites ate its flesh as sign they were being rescued from Egypt, so also Jesus says (and He’s the Lamb of God), “Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will resurrect Him on the Last Day.”
We believe His promises on these things, because He kept His promises about Good Friday and Easter morning. And it also happened like the angel said, “There you will see Him, just as He told you.” They did. The women saw Him. The disciples also saw Him. The Gospels record that, and Paul also says, “He 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.” (1 Cor 15) You’ll see Him, too.
YOU WILL SEE JESUS, JUST AS HE SAID.
His cross and His empty tomb purchased that for you. He signs and seals it to you at His Font, through His Keys, in “Preaching (Sermons) and His Word,” and by the Supper of His body and His blood. And so the words of Job 19 will be true for you: “Yet, in My flesh I shall see God, and my own eyes shall behold Him.” As Paul also says: When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”
Or, to put it another way: