Photo by Ilona Frey on Unsplash
Audio: iTunes | Spotify | Download
[The angel] said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. Look! The place where they laid Him.”
᛭ INI ᛭
Alleluia! Jesus Christ is risen!
He is risen indeed! Alleluia!
They knew where to find Him. They weren’t expecting what we’re celebrating today and forever! They were expecting to find Jesus dead. They bought the spices, probably late Friday. They got up early, they knew what needed to be done. They went to anoint Him. They wanted—they needed!—to finish the burial custom of the Jews.
They knew He was dead. They’d seen it with their own eyes. They knew where to find Him, they saw where He was buried. They saw Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus do it! They saw the sepulcher get sealed up with the very large stone. They knew what awaited them. That stone!—“It was very large.” Behind, His body, His dead body. “Wrapped in a linen cloth” and laid in that tomb.
But then the unthinkable! They didn’t expect any of it, but stone was rolled away and Jesus wasn’t there! But there was an angel. “Do not be alarmed,” He said, “You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. Look! The place where they laid him.” Fleeing the tomb, they’d run into Jesus, and so they saw Him again with their own eyes. And He went before them into Galilee, and there they also saw Him, just as the Angel said.
(2. He really has risen for you.)
Today, we’re here not only because of what the Angel said, or what the women said (or maybe didn’t say), or what the Apostles said. We’re also here because of what they saw! We trust their testimony, and we believe what it means for us and for the world. Their testimony is that Christ the crucified has risen from the dead.
He was dead. “Suffered under Pontius Pilate, crucified, died, and was buried.” Earlier in Mark, Pilate had given the Roman equivalent of a death certificate, for “when he learned from the centurion that he was dead, he granted the corpse to Joseph” (Mk 15:45) of Arimathea. He buried Jesus. Another person was there: Mary Magdalene. She was at Calvary, she also sat opposite the tomb, and she went to the tomb on Sunday, and, like I said before, she was expecting Jesus to be dead.
Good thing to expect, because Jesus really was dead. The Romans were good at that sort of thing. Spear-pierced for good measure. But then Jesus wasn’t dead anymore! “I know that My Redeemer lives!” (Job 19) He was alive again! A living, breathing, walking, talking Jesus. He even ate with His disciples! With Jesus’ resurrection we see that the “very large” stone was child’s play. Death is far greater, a far more final thing. Death was very very large! (θάνατος ἦν μέγας σφόδρα σφοδρῶς, Mk 16:18, Gen 7:19) Who can roll away death for us? Christ has! He came back to life.
But He is always Christ the crucified. Living and reigning forever, but always the Crucified. “The Lamb who has been slain.” (Rev) “Christ our Passover Lamb has been sacrificed.” And so we “celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil,” sin and death, “but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth,” and the forgiveness of your sins and the destruction of death.
Christ the Crucified being raised means that you are no longer in your sins! (1 Cor 15) You’ve been redeemed, by the precious blood of Christ. It means you will be raised as He is raised. It means the victory is yours! “The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Cor 15:56-57)
(1. He’s really here for you.)
Standing in the tomb the angel bid Mary, “Look! The place where they laid Him.” He wasn’t there. But now, just like Mary, you do know where to find Him. She expected to find Him buried—safe assumption!—because dead people stay dead. But you can expect and trust and know for certain where He is. He’s here!
For certain, He’s with you always. That’s His promise. “I am with you always,” (Mt 28) He says. The resurrected Jesus makes that promise. It’s tied to Baptism and His Word, of course. Because in the making of disciples through baptizing and teaching, He is there with us. And yet, the promise stands for each of you: “I am with you.” “You are mine.” (Is 43) He is, of course, Immanuel—“God with us.” (Is 7)
But for certain, He’s here! Here in a unique and particular way. It’s promised! “Where two or three are gathered in My name, there I am in their midst.” (Mt 18) Doing what? Baptizing. (Jn 4) Absolving sinners. (Mt 18; Jn 20) He is present here with His Word, even this Sermon. “Whoever hears you hears Me.” (Lk 10:16) He’s here hosting a meal for sinners! His Word blesses the bread and wine so that they are His body and blood.
Faith receives all His promises. Whether that promise is “I am with you always,” or whether that promise is “there I am in their midst.” From Baptism to Absolution, hearing sermons to His Supper, praying at home or devoting yourself to public prayer (Acts 2:42), even hearing the Bible here or reading it at home—all things as gift! Faith rejoices at Jesus’ gifts and rejoices at His presence. It’s only our sinful flesh that would pit Jesus’ promises against each other, rather than pile them one top of each other, like a many tiered cake! Our flesh actually wants to miss out on as many gifts of Jesus as possible. Not so faith! As the Gospel is always more for you, so faith says, “Give me more!”
But Jesus is really here! Like, in the building right now. He’s alive and rules the universe: He can do that sort of thing. We can’t see Him with our physical eyes, but, based on His empty tomb, we know He’s true to His Word about being “in our midst.” This is why we do certain things during worship. Standing for example. Or even why we bow at certain places or at certain times, usually when talking about His glory. Don’t want to catch a glimpse, if He decides to pull the same stunt He did with Isaiah in Isaiah chapter 6.
[The angel] said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See! The place where they laid him.”
He was crucified for you, and He is always the crucified for you. He is always that because He has risen! “Death not longer has dominion over Him.” (Rom 6) But He is still Christ the crucified. Eternally the Lamb looking like He was slain. (Rev) Mary saw Him: crucified, dead, buried, and raised!
The angel was correct: “He has risen; he is not here.” He was no longer in the place where they laid Him. But He is here. Here today. Like in the building! This is the good news of Easter!
CHRIST THE CRUCIFIED HAS RISEN, AND HE’S HERE FOR YOU!
Crucified for you. Risen for you. Here for you. Immanuel, God with Us, for you. To baptize you, to absolve you, to preach to you, to give His body and blood to you. In these ways He’s sharing His crucified-ness with you, His cross with you, His redemption with you. He’s also sharing His Easter with you, His empty tomb, His eternal life, that you, too, would live, never to die again! Just like Him. So that, one day, you won’t be here, but you’ll be with Him forever. So that what the angel said of Jesus will be said of you, “Risen…not here.” All because