Easter 2023 – Festival of the Resurrection of our Lord
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud 
April 9, 2023
Acts 10:34-43, Col. 3:1-4, Matt. 28:1-10


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            The nails are pried out of His hands and feet.  Jesus’ dead body is taken off of the cross, the crown of thorns is gently removed and his naked body is covered.  He is carried away to a nearby garden be cleaned, anointed with perfume and spices, and wrapped in a clean linen shroud for burial. Joseph of Arimathea has gotten permission from the Roman governor to make arrangements for Jesus’ burial and He has Jesus’ body taken to Joseph’s own new tomb in that nearby garden.  Joseph’s people stoop down to carry the body through a low door into a cool, dark, chamber, and lay the body flat on the rock surface carved out of the stone inside a hollowed out cave.  They exit the chamber and push a heavy rock over the small low entranceway.  All those gathered outside are weeping and mourning the death of Jesus of Nazareth; the one they believed to be the Christ, the Son of the living God.  They had such great hope in Jesus, but now with the rolling of a stone all that hope is dead…sealed in a tomb.  Jesus caused people to have such great confidence that the Messiah had finally come and everything would be fulfilled and that He would bring forgiveness and eternal life.  He would bring victory over sin and the grave.  He would restore all things.  But now He lies dead in a tomb sealed with a stone.  The people begin to disperse.  In a year or so, someone will have to come back to collect Jesus’ bones and put them in a bone box so another body can use the tomb. 

            This is what happens to people.  The Bible is clear.  Isaiah 40:6–8 (ESV) 6 A voice says, “Cry!” And I said, “What shall I cry?” All flesh is grass, and all its beauty is like the flower of the field. 7 The grass withers, the flower fades when the breath of the Lord blows on it; surely the people are grass. 8 The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever. 

            At a tomb, at a grave, it certainly seems that death has the final say; that death has the final victory.  Death is so hard.  It is so, so final.  Most of you have been there, standing by the graveside of your loved one with the casket ready to be lowered into the ground and sealed in a vault.  It feels like the end.

It has been a difficult few weeks for our family as Jeannette and I have spent a lot of time at the bedside of my dying father.  It is a difficult thing to do as many of you know all too well.  But as I sat there I was not filled with crippling grief or overwhelming sorrow.  Those in Christ know that death is not the end.  Christians grieve, but not like those who have no hope.  And why is that?.......  Why do we have hope in the face of death?  St. Paul tells us in 1 Thessalonians 4:13–14 (ESV) 13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. 14 For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep.”  Christ is risen!  He is risen indeed!  Alleluia! ‘      

            The women go back to the tomb on Sunday morning just before dawn.  They approach the group of guards surrounding the grave wondering what they are going to be able to do about the large stone.  Suddenly there is a great earthquake and an angel of the Lord shining like lightening with snow white clothing descends.  He rolls back the stone in front of the tomb and the guards faint from fear.  Matthew 28:5–7 (ESV) 5 But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. 6 He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. See, I have told you.” 

            The angel rolls the stone away to show everyone that the tomb is already empty.  Jesus has already risen and He is no longer there.  Jesus has done what He said He would do a week earlier in Jericho when He told the disciples.  Matthew 20:18–19 (ESV) 18 “See, we are going up to Jerusalem. And the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn him to death 19 and deliver him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified, and he will be raised on the third day.” 

            And that is what He did.  Christ is risen!  He is risen indeed!  Alleluia! 

            People often dispute about who Jesus is.  They want to make Him to be anything but the Christ, the Son of the living God.  They want Him to be just a teacher, a prophet, a helper, a coach, an advisor, a friend.  By rising from the dead on that Sunday morning in Jerusalem 2,000 years ago, Jesus silences all the doubters.  If Jesus did not rise from the dead then He is just another guy… worse, He is a liar. If He did not rise then He lied about who He is and what He will do.  But Jesus did not lie.  Christ is risen!  He is risen indeed!  Alleluia! 

            We know this is true because we have eyewitnesses to His resurrection including Peter whose words are recorded by Luke in the Book of Acts in our first reading today.  Acts 10:39–41 (ESV) 39 And we are witnesses of all that he did both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree, 40 but God raised him on the third day and made him to appear, 41 not to all the people but to us who had been chosen by God as witnesses, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead.”

            What Jesus told Peter and the disciples to do, is what we continue to do to this day.  We proclaim the resurrection.  We preach and teach that Jesus is the Christ who was crucified, who died for the sins of the world, and who has risen from the dead just as He said He would.  Christ is risen!  He is risen indeed!  Alleluia! 

            Jesus appears to the disciples after His resurrection.  And what does Peter report that Jesus tells them to do?  Acts 10:42–43 (ESV) 42 And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead. 43 To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” 

            What Jesus told Peter and the disciples to do, is what we continue to do to this day.  We proclaim the resurrection.  We preach and teach that Jesus is the Christ who was crucified, who died for the sins of the world, and who has risen from the dead just as He said He would.  Christ is risen!  He is risen indeed!  Alleluia! 

            Jesus takes your sin…all your sin… upon Himself.  He pays the price for your sins proclaiming from the cross, tetelestai, it is finished. It is finished.  The payment for your sins is complete.  Jesus’ body rests in the tomb on the Sabbath and then Sunday morning the angel rolls away the stone from the tomb to show that Jesus has risen from the dead.  Christ is risen!  He is risen indeed!  Alleluia! 

            You are baptized into Christ.  You have put on Christ.  This changes everything for you.  Romans 6:1–5 (ESV) 1 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.” 

            The disciples spend the rest of their lives proclaiming that Jesus rose from the dead and because Jesus rose from the dead, those in Christ will also rise on the Last Day.  The disciples proclaim the truth. 

I teach my children and the students in catechism class and at school that not only is it right to tell the truth, but it is easier to tell the truth. It is easier to tell the truth, because if you lie once, what do you almost always have to do?  You have to lie again to cover up the first lie and you have to try to remember all the lies.  If you tell the truth you do not have to remember what you said.

            Chuck Colson who founded Prison Fellowship after being incarcerated for his involvement with the Watergate scandal wrote this, “I know the resurrection is a fact, and Watergate proved it to me. How? Because 12 men testified they had seen Jesus raised from the dead, then they proclaimed that truth for 40 years, never once denying it. Every one was beaten, tortured, stoned and put in prison. They would not have endured that if it weren't true. Watergate embroiled 12 of the most powerful men in the world-and they couldn't keep a lie for three weeks. You're telling me 12 apostles could keep a lie for 40 years? Absolutely impossible.”

            After Jesus ascended into heaven the disciples and other followers of Jesus began to be arrested, beaten, and killed for proclaiming the truth about Jesus.  They continued anyway.  Christ is risen!  He is risen indeed!  Alleluia! 

            As Christ’s church we will continue to proclaim the truth about Jesus no matter what opposition we may face because this is the truth that brings eternal life.  Christ is risen!  He is risen indeed!  Alleluia! Amen.