Easter Sunday 2022
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud 
April 17, 2022


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            It is almost a cliché of broken promises.  A boy wants a dog and will say anything in order to convince his parents that this is a good idea.  “I will take care of everything.  I will walk the dog, feed it, give it a bath.  I will pick up after the dog in the yard.  I will do everything.  I promise. I promise, promise, promise.” 

            “Promise, promise, promise,” Dad mumbles as a cold rain runs down his neck at 5:30 in the morning while he is taking the dog for its morning walk so it doesn’t make another puddle in the house.

            Someone says, “I promise.”  Is this a valuable statement or empty, worthless words?  Depends who is saying it. 

I promise.  How many times have you used these words with every intention of following through, but instead you failed to fulfil your promise.  How often have you said to God, “I promise I will never do that again.”? How many times when you hear someone else promise you something, you doubt them and say sarcastically, “Promises…Promises.”  Promises, far too often, are a waste of breath.  And so, at first, it seems understandable that people doubted Jesus’ promise that He would rise from the dead. 

Right after Peter confesses that Jesus is the Christ of God Jesus tells them, Luke 9:22 (ESV) 22 … “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.”  Jesus spoke clearly and yet the disciples and others do not believe Him or remember what He said. 

            Jesus makes a promise to his disciples but they are not paying attention.  They are so wrapped up in their own ideas and their own expectations that they don’t understand what is happening and what will happen.

Jesus tells them again as they near Jerusalem, Luke 18:31–34 (ESV) 31 And taking the twelve, he said to them, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished. 32 For he will be delivered over to the Gentiles and will be mocked and shamefully treated and spit upon. 33 And after flogging him, they will kill him, and on the third day he will rise.” 34 But they understood none of these things. This saying was hidden from them, and they did not grasp what was said.”

            Jesus makes a promise to his disciples but they are not paying attention.  They are so wrapped up in their own ideas and their own expectations that they don’t understand what is happening and what will happen.

            And while you often have good reason to doubts someone’s promise due to past experience, Jesus’ disciples have no reason to doubt His word.  The disciples have seen Jesus teach with authority and, with His words, take authority over demons, disease, disability, food, weather and even death.  Three of the disciples have seen Jesus transfigured and shine with heavenly light and hear God the Father say, “This is my Son, my Chosen One; listen to Him.”  And yet…they do not listen. 

            Jesus made promises.  He has declared things to be true.  He promised to rise from the dead.  Over and over Jesus shows that His word is good and true and can be trusted and yet that first Easter morning where are the disciples?  They are hiding in fear.  The women go to the tomb, but what are they bringing with them?  Spices, to anoint Jesus’ dead, decaying body so it does not smell so awful.

            When the women arrive at the tomb they find that the stone has been rolled away and they go inside but Jesus’ body is not there. And they still do not understand that “Christ is risen!  He is risen indeed!  Alleluia.” The women are confused and then two angels in dazzling clothing appear and ask the frightened women, “Luke 24:5–8 (ESV) 5 … “Why do you seek the living among the dead? 6 He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, 7 that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.” 8 And they remembered his words,”

            The women now understand.  They remember Jesus’ promise and they believe, “Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!  Alleluia.”  They go to tell the apostles, the ones sent by Jesus to proclaim the good news.  The women tell the good news to the disciples Luke 24:11 (ESV) 11 but these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them.”  The disciples, who saw firsthand the authority of Jesus’ words still do not believe He rose from the dead. 

            Curiosity, however, gets to Peter and he goes to the tomb and sees the burial clothes neatly folded up by themselves.  Peter knows the tomb was guarded and if someone stole the body they would not fold up the burial clothes.  Peter marvels at what has happened.  Peter believes.  Later that first Easter Sunday Jesus appears to two disciples on the road to Emmaus and then to the eleven.  They touch Jesus, and Jesus eats with them, and then they still do not want to believe. So Jesus teaches them again and promises them power from on high; the Holy Spirit.  Then the disciples believe and spend the rest of their lives proclaiming repentance for the forgiveness of sins to all nations beginning in Jerusalem. Finally, they believe Jesus. Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

            The value of a promise depends on who is making the promise.  Jesus’ promise to rise from the dead is a solid promise because He is the one who makes the promise.  While our promises can be pretty iffy, Jesus’ promises are rock solid.  Jesus said He would rise from the dead and Jesus rises from the dead.  “Christ is risen!  He is risen indeed!  Alleluia.”

            When the devil confronts you with your sins and accuses you of not being worthy of forgiveness, he wants you to look to your own faith, your own promises to do better, your own actions.  The devil wants you to rely on yourself, but there is no comfort there because your promises are iffy.  When the devil accuses you, stand on the solid rock of Jesus’ promises because, in Christ, there is true comfort.

            Stand on Jesus’ promise to forgive your sins. Jesus died on the cross to pay for the sin of the world and He rose from the dead to show that He has conquered sin and death forever.  Stand on the solid rock of Jesus’ word that declares, “I forgive you all your sins.” Stand on the solid rock of Jesus’ promise to you in your baptism; that you are His child for eternity. Stand on Jesus’ rock solid promise that in Holy Communion you receive His Body and Blood for the forgiveness of your sins.  When buffeted by the storms of life do not try to live on the shifting sands of your own strength, your own promises, your own good intentions.  Stand on the promises of Jesus. 

            The devil’s first lie is still so very useful to him. “Did God really say?”  There is a great temptation to not want to trust Jesus. It is too easy to think of Jesus as one of us and want to think about His promises like our promises.  The devil wants you to doubt Jesus’ promises and look to yourself for forgiveness.  The devil wants you to despair because of your broken promises. But the devil is a liar.  Salvation is not found in your promises; it is found in Jesus.  The devil is a liar and Jesus tells the truth.  Today we celebrate the truth that Jesus conquers sin and death for you. 

            This bright and festive morning filled with flowers and bells and joyful music is a great celebration.  We celebrate with gusto the resurrection of Jesus from the dead because it changes everything.  Today, and every Sunday, we remember and celebrate that Jesus keeps His promises. Jesus says your sins are forgiven and your sins are forgiven.  Jesus keeps His promises.  You do not need to doubt God’s love for you.  You do not need to doubt God’s promise to you as His baptized child.  You need not doubt your salvation.

            Today, bask in God’s love.  Rejoice in the forgiveness of your sins.  Celebrate Jesus’ promise of eternal life.  Know Jesus drowns your sin so each day you can live a new life in Christ.  In your struggle against sin and guilt know that Jesus has already won the victory. Bask in God’s love and forgiveness for you in Christ and let that love and forgiveness flow out from you into a troubled world bringing the light of Christ into the darkness.

In this life, death is your constant companion…stalking you from the moment of your birth.  This life is indeed lived in the valley of the shadow of death and yet you need not fear; the Lord is with you.  The devil and the world want you to be in constant, crippling fear of death, but you do not need to fear because Jesus has conquered death for you.  Jesus promises, 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.”…  Then Jesus asks, “do you believe this?”  Whoever believes in Jesus, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who believes in Jesus will never die.  Do you believe this?  It sounds too good to be true but you know it is true because… Jesus keeps His promises. “Christ is risen!  He is risen indeed!  Alleluia!

            Live in the promise of the resurrection.  Through all the troubles and struggles, live your life in love and joy knowing that you have eternal life.  “Christ is risen!  He is risen indeed!  Alleluia!” Amen.