The Festival of the Resurrection of our Lord 2024
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud
March 31, 2024
Is. 25:6-9, 1 Cor. 15:1-11, Mark 16:1-8


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            This is the feast of victory for our God. Alleluia!  Alleluia!  Alleluia! The Lamb who was slain has begun to reign!  Alleluia!  Alleluia! Alleluia!  Christ is Risen!  He is Risen indeed!  Alleluia!

            This is the Feast of Victory!  Feel the thrill of victory. 

What does victory feel like?  It feels great to get an A on a test or a promotion at work.  It is a great feeling to win a youth soccer game or watch your kid win.  Victory feels wonderful. 

I am not old enough to remember the feeling when the U.S. won a war, but I imagine the end of World War II must have been just incredible for those at home and those in the fight.  The fighting is over.  The war is won.  The enemy is defeated.  The sacrifices have been worth it.  Victory is ours. 

What does victory feel like?  For avid sports fans it is that feeling when your team wins the national championship. Whole cities lose their minds with the elation of being the victorious champions. 

Try to imagine for a moment that feeling of victory.  The joy…the excitement…the elation…the utter jubilation. Now take that feeling and multiply it by 100…1,000…1 million.  This is the Feast of Victory for our God.  The Lamb who was slain has begun to reign.  Christ is risen!  He is risen indeed!  Alleluia! This is the greatest victory of all time.  Jesus has the victory and He gives the victory to you. 

            For those old enough to remember ABC’s Wide World of Sports, there is the thrill of victory… and the agony of defeat.  And since we are celebrating victory it means someone has been defeated.  Who today suffers the agony of defeat?  Christ is Risen!  He is Risen indeed!  Alleluia!

            Early that Sunday morning 2,000 years ago, Jesus emerges from the tomb, alive and well, and sin is defeated, death is defeated, and the devil is defeated.  The Lamb of God takes away the sin of the world and the Lamb rises from the dead to show total victory.  Christ is Risen!  He is Risen indeed!  Alleluia!

            Jesus defeats sin.  Sin is your enemy and your enemy has been defeated.  Now sin is tricky.  You are a natural born sinner who likes to sin, but as a baptized child of God you are called to struggle against sin.  The struggle often does not go well.  It is very frustrating to realize you are in bondage to sin and cannot free yourself. 

Why are you a sinner?  Are you a sinner because you sin, or do you sin because you are a sinner?  Which statement is better?  I am a sinner because I sin.  Or, I sin because I am a sinner.  Which is the better answer?  It is the second.  You sin because you are a sinner.  And when did you become a sinner?  At the moment of conception.  You inherited sin from your father, who got it from his father, all the way back to great-great-grandpa Adam.  You sin because you are a sinner and that does not seem fair, but it is the way it is. You try to stop sinning, but, as we talked about a couple of weeks ago you don’t know how bad you truly are until you have tried really hard to be good. 

The struggle with sin is frustrating and can lead people to become self-righteous and say, “I might be a sinner, but I am not as bad as that other guy,” Or it can lead you to despair because you can never be good enough.  But neither of these is necessary.  Jesus has defeated sin.  Jesus has cancelled the power of sin.  Jesus has victory over sin.  Jesus has covered over your sin with His robe of righteousness.  While you still struggle with sin and temptation, the war is won.  When God looks at you He does not see your sin, but rather He sees Jesus’ perfection covering you.  Jesus declares you to be righteous, innocent and blessed.  Jesus proclaims your sins are forgiven, and if Jesus declares it, it is true. In Christ you are a saint of God as we hear in 2 Corinthians 5:21 (ESV) 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”  You are forgiven all your sins because Jesus’ death and resurrection has been applied to you. Sin has been defeated.  Christ is risen!  He is risen indeed!  Alleluia!

            Death has been defeated.  Death…is…defeated.  This is huge. Anyone who has stood beside the grave of a loved one knows death is the enemy.  Death feels so absolute, so devastatingly final.  At the grave it really seems that death has the victory, but Jesus’ resurrection changes all of that.  Jesus defeats death.  As we heard last week at Lazarus’ grave Jesus announces, John 11:25–26 (ESV) 25 … “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. …”  In your baptism you have been given the gift of eternal life.  Though you die, yet shall you live.  As Christians we grieve, but not like those who have no hope, because the grave is not forever.  On the Last Day Jesus will call you out of the grave and your spirit and body will be reunited and you will rise up in your perfected, imperishable, immortal body to go and live with Jesus forever, and as St. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 15:54–57 (ESV) 54 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.” 55 “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” 56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”  This is the Feast of victory for our God!  Christ is risen!  He is risen indeed!  Alleluia!

            Jesus is victorious over the devil.  That wily liar has been slithering around since the Garden of Eden repeating his age-old question of temptation, “Did God really say?”  The lying devil calls God a liar and your sinful side loves to think that God is lying because your sinful self wants to pursue all kinds of things that God has forbidden.  On that Friday, the devil thought the cross was the end of Jesus. The devil thought he was victorious, but the devil was wrong.  While the devil did not know it, Jesus conquered Satan on the cross at Golgotha and victory was complete that Sunday morning at the empty tomb.

            That Sunday morning Jesus descended into hell to preach a victory sermon to the spirits in prison.  As we read in Colossians 2:15 (ESV) 15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.” 

        This is the feast of victory for our God.  You have the thrill of victory.  Sin, death and the devil have the agony of defeat. 

            The devil has been defeated.  He has been bound and cast into the bottomless pit.  The devil cannot seize you and drag you away.  He cannot take hold of you unless you invite him in.  Now, the devil is still in the world, and you still need to be on guard against his deceptions and temptations.  You need to stay aware of the devil’s yearning to have you stop loving God and stop loving your neighbor and instead follow your own desires and make sin your lifestyle. The devil is wily, but the old evil foe is like a dog on a chain.  It is easy to avoid a chained up dog, but he will try to get you to come close and pet him by making sin seem harmless and normal.  Do not be fooled.  While restrained, the devil can still tempt, so know his temptations.  As we learn in James 4:7 (ESV) 7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”  You do not belong to the devil.  You do not answer to the devil. 

The devil will try to accuse you of your sins.  Rebuke him.  Martin Luther wrote in a letter to a friend, “When the devil throws our sins up to us and declares we deserve death and hell, we ought to speak thus:  “I admit that I deserve death and hell.  What of it?  Does this mean that I shall be sentenced to eternal damnation?  By no means.  For I know One who suffered and made a satisfaction in my behalf.  His name is Jesus Christ, the Son of God.  Where he is, there I shall be also.”  When the devil tries to accuse you, remind the devil that he has been defeated.  Christ is risen!  He is risen indeed!  Alleluia!

            This is the feast of victory for our God.  You have the thrill of victory.  Sin, death and the devil have the agony of defeat. 

            The victory has been won.  The victory is yours in Christ.  Today we rejoice as we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus and victory over sin, death and the devil.  Today we celebrate Jesus’ resurrection, but this is not a once-a-year celebration.  We celebrate victory each Sunday as we remember Jesus’ resurrection from the dead.  Each Sunday we remember that greatest Sunday, victory Sunday, as we again receive the gifts of God’s forgiveness and eternal life.

            Christ is risen!  He is risen indeed!  Alleluia!