Easter 2018
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud
April 1, 2018
Isaiah 25:6-9, 1 Corinthians 15:1-11, Mark 16:1-8


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So, what are you looking for? Why have you come here today?  What has gotten you up on this Sunday morning and brought you to this place?  What are you looking for?  Some of you are here every Sunday, some not so often.  But, why are you really here? What are you really looking for?  Every one of you is on a journey through life and the end of the journey can be frightening.  Where is your home?  What lies at the end of the journey? 

Some of you are here because you are home for the holiday and your family always goes to church together on Easter. Some of you are here because you are unable to be home, and church on Easter Sunday reminds you of your home and family.  For many of you, church and the people here are your home and family. There is something about this day and this place that reminds you of home.

Today you are here, in the right place, looking for home, but sadly, I’m afraid you spend most of your days looking for home somewhere else.  You spend most of your days looking for home in the things of this worldYou look for home in the things around you; in fleeting pleasures and momentary happiness.  Too often you look for home in things of the world as if they are what truly matter.  Far too often you look to this world as if it truly is your home.  

This may seem like it’s not such a big deal, but when you look for home in the things of this world you are like the women in our Easter text for today from the Gospel of St. Mark. The first place you “go” to seek Jesus is a tomb. You look for Jesus among the dead. You focus upon the fleeting stuff of this world.  You are enchanted by things you will soon throw away.  You are excited by the perishable.  You seek comfort and fulfillment in this mortal, dying world. You seek Jesus among the dead!  You look for proof of Jesus in the material things of life and you treat the grave as if it were your home.  You are taught to believe that life is a race against the grave.  We hear this reflected in the way we talk about life.  We say things like, life is short eat dessert first, carpe diem (seize the day), yolo (you only live once), it’s on my bucket list, you only go around once so grab all the gusto you can grab.  All of this talk makes it seem as if this life is all that there is, that, indeed, life is short and then you die. 

Why do the women go to the tomb to see Jesus?  Now we can talk about how the women were doing their duty by going out to anoint Jesus’ body.  We can speak of the women’s bravery because they are out and about while the disciples hide in fear behind locked doors. We can talk about their devotion to the Son of God. But none of that changes the fact that they believed Jesus to be dead. Jesus told them over and over that He would rise from the dead and yet they still went to the tomb to see Jesus because, everyone knows, the tomb is home for dead people and Jesus died just like everyone else.

Why did they seek Jesus among the dead? Because, in this world, death is your home.  In this world you are on a one way journey to the grave.  You have been exiled to death because of sin.  Death is the reality of this life.  What are the two things you can’t avoid?  Taxes and death.  Now, we try to ignore death.  We try to fight it, we deny it, we do all we can to put it off; but the reality of our sin is death. Death is our land of exile; the grave is our wilderness home. You can eat healthily, work out, see the best doctors, eliminate stress, and be in touch with your inner self; yet you will still die.

The devastation of death is brought about by sin in the world and sin in your very being. The grave becomes your exile home.  In the Garden of Eden, man willingly brought sin into this world; but who knew that sin would bring its partner—death.  The devil lied to Adam and Eve when he said, “You will not surely die.”  The wages of sin is death.  And not the sanitized American version of death with all our gentle euphemisms, passed away, slipped away, didn’t make it.  The wages of sin is death.  The brutal, agonizing, eternal fire, weeping-and-gnashing-of-teeth kind of death that is the result of being separated from God. Death that is everlasting condemnation; death that is suffering beyond comparison; death that is the great enemy that no man can overcome. Our sin has sent us to this land of exile, this land of death. We are in an exile that is a death both physical and spiritual; we are in exile with no ability to escape and no hope of return.  Is it any wonder that you live as if the tomb is your home?

For this reason, God sent His Son into this world. Jesus came to rescue you from your land of wandering, from your deadly exile, from the reality of death itself. Jesus came to save you from the grave.  This is the exile from which Christ has freed you and brought you out. Jesus came to accomplish what you had no hope of accomplishing. By the cross, He has redeemed you, restored you, and renewed you. Jesus overcame both sin and death. Jesus hung on the cross to bear your sin—suffering, bleeding holy blood, and dying as the sacrifice for all sin. Jesus conquered Satan as He provided the sacrifice required and cleansed you from all guilt and shame. For this, God sent His Son; for this, Jesus faced death in your place and finished the work God promised He would do; and for this, Jesus was laid in the tomb as a lifeless body—but a lifeless body with a promise!

The tomb is empty! The tomb is not Christ’s home. The grave only holds Him for three short days.  The grave—the pit—is not and will not be His dwelling place.  Satan’s wilderness exile land of sin and death cannot contain Jesus.  The grave cannot contain Jesus.  He is not there. Christ is risen!

The women who went to the tomb that first Easter morning were not focused on the promise. They were focused on the corpse. They went to see Jesus among the dead. They were living as if the grave was their home—the end of their journey. But the angel told them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; He is not here.”

Why do you seek the living among the dead? Why do you seek Jesus in a tomb? He is not here. He is risen!  Christ is risen!

The tomb is empty! The tomb is not Christ’s home. The grave only holds Him for three short days.  The grave—the pit—is not and will not be His dwelling place.  Satan’s wilderness exile land of sin and death cannot contain Jesus.  The grave cannot contain Jesus.  He is not there. Christ is risen!

Do you realize what this means? If the tomb is not Christ’s home, then the tomb is not your home either! You will not remain in the grave.  You will rise from the dead.  Christ is victorious over sin, death, and the devil, and He shares His victory with you. Christ pays the price and overcomes the Ancient Foe, and you are rescued from the wilderness; you are restored to your God; you are returned from the land of your exile. Welcome home!  Welcome home to eternal life with God in the Kingdom of Heaven.

Christ is risen!  The tomb is empty. The grave is no longer your focus because it is no longer your home. You no longer live life fatalistically. You no longer wander through this world with the attitude that you just plug along until you die. You no longer live as one exiled in a land of suffering and death. The tomb is empty! THE TOMB IS EMPTY! Christ is risen!  You do not look for Jesus among the dead.  You do not live your life as one who has no hope. The tomb is empty! Christ is Risen!  He is risen, and you also will rise!

This world is confusing. This world is uncomfortable and difficult. This world is heavy and overwhelming. This world still seeks your attention and your citizenship. But this world is NOT your home. Christ has risen! The tomb is empty, and you live life as a child of God walking through this strange land. You are a living child of God on a journey through this world. You focus not to the right or to the left; you are not distracted by the glamour, you are not sidetracked by the shiny things of life.  You are not overcome by the pain and the darkness. You walk with your eyes focused, not on the tomb, but on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of your faith (Hebrews 12:1–3), the One who has returned you to a right relationship with your Father in heaven. You walk with eyes focused not on the land of death, but on the open gates of everlasting life.

Welcome home!  Welcome home to the Kingdom of Heaven!  What beautiful words I am privileged to speak to you this day. Welcome home! The tomb of Christ is empty—He is not here; He is risen. And you, too, shall rise! Welcome home! Christ is risen!  Amen.